Courtroom 12T and Judge Marcucci

February 2005

There's a nice profile in the Denver Post today of Denver Judge John Marcucci, who presides over Courtroom 12T, the Denver County Court where new arrestees are brought every morning to be advised of their rights. This is a job that requires patience, humor, and the ability to operate in an emergency room-type environment. Most judges request another assignment after two years. Not Judge Marcucci. He asked to stay on.

"It suits my personality," Marcucci said. "I like the hectic pace of it."

One of the reasons Courtroom 12T runs so smoothly is its youthful but veteran clerk, Karen, who arrives at work around 4:00 a.m. For more than 20 years, Karen has guided young lawyers through the maze of court procedures. Credit also goes to the Denver County sheriffs, who orchestrate the herding of chained prisoners into a large locked room with a glass window into the courtroom. As one case ends and another gets called, the door opens and the sheriffs unobtrusively rotate a few of the prisoners into the courtroom while taking others back into the sealed room.

12 T has different rules because the law requires new arrestees to be brought before a judge quickly, even when formal charges have not yet been filed. Most prisoners are there only for an advisement of rights and setting of bond. Once charges are filed, their case moves on to another court. Rather than post the bond or remain in jail pending the filing of charges, or simply to get it over with, many plead guilty on the spot, and then get sentenced by Judge Marcucci. Some, as the article describes, get angry. Most take their punishment quietly. When a high profile case comes in, the TV cameras line up along one wall of the courtroom. The rows of bench-like seats fill up with family and friends, either of the accused or the victim, and curious spectators. The sheriffs bring the prisoner in, and the proceeding usually lasts less than five minutes. Judge Marcucci, Karen, and the sheriffs have seen it all before and are fairly unflappable. Denver's accused rapist Brent J. Brents appeared in front of a Magistrate Judge in Denver Sunday morning, where bond was set at $25 million. Due to the weekend, and necessity to get him in front of a judge quickly, he didn't appear in Courtroom 12T, where for Judge Marcucci, his courtroom staff and the deputies, it would have been business as usual.