Virginia Judge and Dog Baby Girl Run Court

Don't you wish this judge would get to preside over some of those really nasty animal abuse cases? I don't think we'd see too many...


Don’t you wish this judge would get to preside over some of those really nasty animal abuse cases? I don’t think we’d see too many wrist slaps in his court!

Thanks to the for this article.

Judge and jury, and dog
Most every Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, it’s Your Honor, his pooch


ROANOKE Standing at the lectern in a Roanoke courtroom, attorney Terry Grimes was arguing a fine point of the law when he was startled by a dog sniffing his pants.

Your Honor, Grimes told Judge James C. Turk, there’s a dog in the courtroom.

Yes, the judge said in a matter-of-fact tone. Please continue.

Grimes resumed his argument, only to learn later that the portly little dog had a name, Baby Girl; an owner, Turk; and an honor bestowed on precious few pooches: free roam of a federal courtroom.

It all started a few years ago, when Turk began to bring his dachshund mix to work with him on Tuesdays, when his wife does volunteer work at a hospital in Radford.

Baby Girl does not appreciate being left home alone, the judge explained. Nor does she care for being cooped up in the judge’s chambers when Turk presides over cases.

“If I go in the courtroom and leave her out, she hollers,” Turk said.

And that is why on most every Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, Baby Girl sits in on the proceedings. Or lies, if the mood strikes her.

Although she’s almost 3, Baby Girl shows no signs of outgrowing her name. She usually gets her way, whether it’s going to court once a week or begging for handouts in the seventh-floor cafeteria of the Poff Federal Building.

In the courtroom, her favorite spot is behind the bench at her master’s feet, where she lies quietly. But before settling down, Baby Girl might check out the attorneys and even the defendant, making sure they all pass the smell test.

“She’ll go around and smell of everybody,” Turk said. “She’s the smellingest dog I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Grimes, who reconstructed from memory his first encounter with Baby Girl, said the dog wandered off after a couple of sniffs, leaving him to continue oral arguments for a motion he no longer remembers. “It was a complete surprise, but I can’t say it was a distraction,” Grimes said.

It used to be that Turk and his wife, Barbara, had five dogs running around their Radford house, one for each child. All those dogs are dead now, the children grown up to become a lawyer, a judge, an administrator, a teacher and a businessman.

A Christmas gift from one of their daughters, Baby Girl is the Turks’ only dog now — and all the more special because of that.

On Tuesdays, “she rides the elevator, and it’s just like a person. She knows when to get off on the second floor,” Turk said. “I don’t think she knows that she’s a dog.”

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