The Georgia Superior Court decide presiding over the trial of the males accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, one of the most high-profile circumstances of the 12 months, normally oversees a court docket almost 80 miles away.
Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Savannah was tapped to preside over the Arbery case in 2020 in any case 5 judges in Glynn County, Ga., the place the taking pictures occurred, recused themselves.
He has appeared largely calm and affected person all through the trial, although twice he has rebuked the legal professionals arguing earlier than him.
The decide described statements by a protection lawyer, Kevin Gough, as “reprehensible” after Mr. Gough urged him to keep high-profile Black pastors out of the courtroom as a result of Mr. Gough claimed their presence was intimidating to the jury. Specifically, Judge Walmsley cited Mr. Gough’s comparability of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s look in court docket with a situation through which “a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks.”
Judge Walmsley repeatedly rejected Mr. Gough’s requests to bar Black pastors, in addition to calls from the protection legal professionals for a mistrial.
The decide additionally chastised a prosecutor for asking a witness if she believed that somebody who stole one thing deserved the demise penalty. He known as the query inflammatory, prejudicial and pointless, and instructed the jury to ignore the query.
The killing of Mr. Arbery, one of a number of circumstances that prompted racial-justice protests throughout the nation in 2020, has introduced vital nationwide consideration to Judge Walmsley’s courtroom. Even earlier than the trial started, protesters had gathered, demanding justice for Mr. Arbery. And after Mr. Gough complained about the presence of Black pastors, scores of ministers convened outdoors the courthouse in protest.
Judge Walmsley himself drew consideration by approving the seating of a nearly all-white jury, drawing criticism from some in the group who have been already involved about the equity of the proceedings. Mr. Arbery was Black; the males accused in his demise are white.
Judge Walmsley was appointed to the state’s Eastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court in 2012 by Gov. Nathan Deal. He beforehand labored as Chatham County Justice of the Peace and was a companion at a Savannah legislation agency, specializing in industrial and actual property litigation.