In the Courtroom
Rocky Gitlin Lets Everyone Know – ‘MADD is Watching’
For over 10 years, MADD Missouri volunteer Rocky Gitlin has made his presence known at the Saint Louis County Courthouse. Prosecutors, judges and court employees know him by name. When Gitlin is in the courtroom, MADD is in the courtroom. More often than not, that means a drunk driver is held accountable for the decision to put others’ lives at risk.
Gitlin is one of MADD’s longest serving court monitors, and in 2010 received MADD’s Court Monitor of the Year Award for his service.
“It’s very enjoyable,” said Gitlin, who retired in 2007 after 25 years as a district administrator with the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole. “I need to keep busy and I’m glad to help.”
For Gitlin, every weekday involves duties associated with his volunteer job. On Mondays, he sifts through 500-600 cases on the court docket, looking for drunk driving cases and entering them on his spreadsheet. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, he attends court proceedings on the cases he is tracking. Fridays are for catching up with data entry. Gitlin can easily spend four to five hours a day inside the courtroom and maintaining his spreadsheet. Sometimes, the courts can’t keep up with the pace of the new cases and data entry can be slow.
Gitlin maintains a friendly relationship with judges and prosecutors, meeting with them to discuss his observations. He has seen changes in plea deal discussions because “MADD is watching.”
He knows that in other Missouri counties drunk driving offenders have their charges reduced for the first offense, but that doesn’t happen much in courtrooms he monitors, thanks to prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys all working together. “Maybe just once a month,” he said.
Gitlin, who has monitored hundreds of cases this year and opened 105 new cases in June alone, would encourage anyone who has a few hours to spare to join MADD’s court monitoring program. “Any time in court would be a help,” he said.