WTAM host Mike Trivisonno interviewed several of the main characters in the courtroom drama. Asked what would have happened if he had told Lane to put his shirt back on, Sheriff Dan McClelland said, “I don’t know that.” He continued: “It is the judge’s courtroom.”
After the hearing, the judge issued a statement saying he had not seen the t-shirt.
Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz said he assumed the judge had seen it. At the end of the hearing, Flaiz asked the court to enter into the record the fact that Lane was wearing the shirt and that he had gestured toward the family with his middle finger (for the sake of the court transcript).
Flaiz later said:
I probably, in retrospect, should have done a better job of pointing it out. Again, when he pulled that stunt, what’s going through my mind is he’s just digging himself in deeper here. And I know that he’s going to have appellate counsel that are going to want to challenge his life sentences.
Defense attorney Ian Friedman said:
May no one ever have to sit in a courtroom again and experience what we experienced today. There’s only so much any of us could do in the courtroom. No one in their right mind would want that to happen. And if there’s anything any of us could have done — and I know the sheriff’s a decent guy — Sheriff McClellandd and his entire group, if they could have done something, they would. If there’s something we could have done we would have. But this young man acted on his own.
And yet, he danced around the question when Trivisonno asked if he told his client to put his shirt back on.
Veteran reporter Paul Orlousky from 19 Action News, who was in the press room during the hearing, said:
Somebody should have slipped a note to the the bailiff or something. Something needed to happen. This shouldn’t have been allowed to continue. … I’ve seen people kicked out of the courtroom for shorts, for wearing a hat, for inappropriate t-shirt — come back when you’re dressed appropriately. Much like Sheriff McClellan said, the judge is in his kingdom, or her kingdom, when they’re on that bench and you can do what you want.
(In fact, wearing a t-shirt is a violation of Geauga County courtroom rules.)
I am perhaps willing to cut the lawyers some slack for being lawyerly and not wanting to give this guy any infinitesimal chance at an appeal. But what about everyone else in the courtroom? There are certain moments in time where decent people need to stand up. I am just stunned that there was not one person in that courtroom who was willing to speak up and say: “This. Must. Stop!”
Images of the packed courtroom show how many people were in close proximity to Lane. They all merely stood by, allowing the attack on the families to continue. That hearing screamed for a Rep. Joe Wilson “You lie!” moment.