Me, sleeping? Federal judge offers proof she was taking notes rather than snoozing during drug trial

A Connecticut federal judge set out to address the rumors in a rare denial last Friday.

Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns said she wasn’t sleeping as she presided in the conspiracy trial of three men accused of participating in a large drug-dealing ring, the New Haven Independent reports. She was taking notes, Burns said, rather than sleeping.

“I take copious notes during the testimony of each witness, and I would like to place into the record my personal notes of what happened that afternoon to reflect that I was not asleep,” Burns said. “Indeed, I was listening very carefully to what was going on and making notes of them.”

Burns said she had to confess she was somewhat bored—as well as intrigued—during the playing of audiotapes. “But I want to put this in the record as a court exhibit to indicate what I was doing that afternoon. It was not sleeping. I was not sleeping.”

Several of the defendants’ family members and supporters had complained Burns was sleeping, the story says. The reporter for the New Haven Independent supported Burns, who was visible from the shoulders up from his gallery seat. The judge’s chin did drop as she looked down during the trial but that is consistent with her claim of taking notes, the reporter wrote. Her head did not suddenly jerk as though waking up.

New Haven civil rights attorney Norm Pattis, who is not involved in the trial, also offered a defense of the judge. “Ellen Burns may be 90 years old, but she she’s got more energy than most people half her age, and she is sharp as a tack,” he said.

Burns told the New Haven Register in a 2012 story that she loves being a judge. “It keeps me active, which is a healthy thing for an older person,” she said.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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