Just over two months ago, a sniper's bullet came flying through his courthouse window, striking Family Law Judge Chuck Weller in the chest.
On Monday, he returned to the bench full-time, in what many call a remarkable recovery.
Judge Weller tested his strength by presiding over a few hearings before Monday, August 21st. His return to full-time work now is an indication his recovery has gone well. But of course, the incident has left its mark on the man and the court itself.
Those who work in Family Court always knew the emotions stirred there were a dangerous mix that could lead to violence. The events of June 12th, 2006 left no doubt in the rest of us. Judge Chuck Weller was shot by a sniper through the window of his 3rd floor office.
In the hours and days that followed, he recovered from his wounds as another story unfolded, a grisly discovery at a south Reno home: a woman stabbed to death, her ex-husband sought in an international manhunt, finally surrendering in Mexico.
The windows through which the sniper aimed have a new reflective coating and there are new security procedures inside, but little else appears different. As Weller sits at his desk, the parking garage where his assailant watched is over his right shoulder. Not surprisingly, it is a little unnerving for him.
"It's a little spooky, but it was important to come back," Weller says.
Weller says he's ready to resume his duties, but he says the incident has brought changes. He says he finds himself more reflective on the bench now, making the same decisions for the same reasons, but perhaps taking more time to explain his actions to those standing before him. He says it may never be possible to keep strong emotions out of a court that deals with the most intimate issues in people's lives, but perhaps surprisingly, he says it can and does prevent violence.
However, anger is still there. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Weller was targeted by angry postings on the Internet. That continues still.
Weller says he always felt safe in the courthouse and again, he credits the quick response of the court bailiffs, calling them the heroes of that day. However, he says we can do more. He noted a bill sponsored by Senator Reid following the shooting, which makes millions available for increased courthouse security. A lot of money, he says, but a good start. We have a lot of courthouses.
Ed Pearce News Channel 8.