By John P. Gallo, Marion County Public Defender Agency
The annual Gil I. Berry Award is presented each year to an individual within Indy's criminal court community. Winners are selected by nomination alone, with a focus on recognizing the “unsung” individuals who work in the criminal court system. While not explicit, past winners have been non-lawyers, including probation officers and court staff members. Working in criminal courts is a tough, intense and sometimes thankless job. The section’s goal of the Gil I. Berry Award is to spotlight an individual, who may not have received the recognition that he or she deserves.
This year’s winner is the court reporter Jessica Patterson from Criminal Court 8. Presiding Judge Amy Jones, who nominated Patterson, had this to say about her court reporter: “I was very fortunate as a new judge to have someone with Jess’s level of experience come to my court…Jess is truly a backbone of the court office and is always available to discuss issues and help solve problems with attorneys.”
Patterson started working in the Marion Superior Court Criminal Division with Judge Willes in Court 9 before transitioning to work with Judge Clark Rogers in Criminal Divisions 16 and 17. In 2013, Patterson came to work for Judge Jones in Criminal 8.
She is constantly improving herself. According to Judge Jones, “she has devoted herself to becoming cross trained in all aspects of the court’s operation and can fill in for any position. Each day she assists with updating, helping the lawyers and public in the court office and on the phone, all while performing her court reporting duties.” Moreover, Court 8 is a problem solving court. Patterson goes above and beyond, scheduling psychological examinations, communicating with the state hospitals, and coordinating with the Marion County Sheriff, lawyers and Judge Jones. Judge Jones explained that Jessica is “very accommodating to those mental health court program participants who come to our office in the middle of a mental health crisis or while under the influence of substances…many of our participants have no place else to turn to for help – so they come to one of the only safe places they know: the Court 8 office.” Ms. Patterson does an outstanding job aiding these individuals.
Jessica Patterson’s experience, efficiency and humanity make her an exemplar of the spirit of the Gil Berry Award. Congrats, Jessica!
If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Criminal Justice Section, please email Kara Sikorski at email@example.com.