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 Chief Bailiff Fred Smoot from Criminal Court 19. His nominator states, "Fred keeps the courtroom running smoothly and is a very calming influence in a court that can be intensely busy and where tensions can sometimes be a bit high. Fred is always available to assist the attorneys and anyone else who needs assistance, like those persons who want to know if a friend or family member is in court. Fred will even look up the case and, if it's in another court, direct them to where they need to go. He was responsible for transporting inmates to and from the jail, while ensuring the safety of a courtroom. He excelled in a demanding job by exuding professionalism, class and a pleasant disposition to anyone he contacted. He was a pleasure for all to deal with. His demeanor did not change whether he was involved with prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, court staff and, perhaps most importantly, the inmates who he was tasked to monitor. Year after year, he was a ray of positivity in a challenging environment."
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