VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind (WEHT) – On June 25, much of the nation watched as a judge sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.
During the sentencing, the judge stressed that his decision was not based on emotion, sympathy or public opinion. He said his job is to apply the law to specific facts and to deal with individual cases.
Eyewitness News spoke to Vanderburgh Superior Court Chief Judge Les Shively to get his perspective on the process behind making these decisions. He said there’s a lot more to it than people think.
“The first time I had to sentence somebody at the department of corrections, I shook like a leaf,” said Shively. “It wasn’t a crime quite like this, but I was going to take a 22-year-old man and put him in the department of corrections for a certain amount of time. He was going to lose his liberty. When a judge… I don’t care how many years they’ve been on the bench, if they don’t have that same sort of check valve and realize they’re dealing with a human being here… they still have to follow the guidelines, they still have to follow the law. It’s tough.”
Shively says after a guilty verdict is rendered the judge orders a pre-sentence investigation in which trained probation officers make recommendations to evaluate the defendant and give prospects for reform.