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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Description of Judge Mallard

Baker describes the judge who sentenced the protestors in greater detail and talks more about how he ran his court and why he might have acted as he did.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Describe, I am backpedaling a little bit, but describe Judge Mallard. How old was he, what did he basically look like? Did he have a heavy accent?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, he didn't have a heavy accent. He was a reasonably, he was a small man, and if I remember him correctly, gosh you know, I don't really remember a lot about him. I know that he was not necessarily large in stature. He was relatively mild mannered. A bit of a Southern accent, kind of paranoid, he was paranoid because I understand he used to go to the door with a gun in his hand after all of these trials and things, but I don't know, he just seemed to be hostile. And out to punish us.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did he seem very biased on the bench, it wasn't like he—Did he make the decisions, or was there a jury?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, there wasn't a jury, he made the decisions.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
He was the judge and jury.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
He was the judge and jury, there was not jury involved.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And it was obvious, I mean, he wasn't hiding the fact that he was going to get you and while he was on the bench there was not even an attempt at—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, because if you would try to read something, or you tried to do something, he would haul your butt up there in contempt of his court. He told you that you could not read, he laid out the record.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You were expected to sit there and look.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You were expected to sit there and look.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was it easy to fall asleep in this situation when you were waiting for your court date?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You couldn't fall asleep. You couldn't fall asleep, you couldn't read, you couldn't talk, you just had to sit there.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was almost like prison or worse.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
That's right. He created a prison of the court. And we did this for six weeks and if you did anything that he told you that you could not do in the room, he would call you up. He was stern.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did he make multiple bias comments there, or was it just his general actions?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, it was just his actions. He didn't make any bias comments, he just let the facts be presented. I mean, by the time he got to us, he had gone through so many other cases; you were no longer listening to him. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You had heard all of the other cases. You just knew that it was time to go through the motions.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Yeah, yeah, oh, we were ready to jump up for joy finally when he said that we were going to be tried [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You know it's, he wasn't too—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was an unspoken thing, he wasn't like permeating this, exuding this, "I am out to get these people who have caused problems."
QUINTON E. BAKER:
He didn't put himself in any situation that people could—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Accuse him of being bias
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Accuse him of being cruel or being bias
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But everybody knew that under the surface that he had an agenda, and he was going to take care of things.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And you knew that going into this?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, what do you mean going into it?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, I mean knowing that once you were going to go in front of this judge, he had a reputation of doing this kind of thing.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, he had no reputation of doing this as far as—He did this because of the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill. He didn't have a reputation that we knew anything about. Of doing anything like this before the—and I don't recall hearing anybody saying that he did anything after that was similar to what he did during this period.