In general, judges thank or comfort victims when they speak but withhold their opinion until the end. At that point, the judge will offer their overall thoughts on the defendant and victims and deliver a sentence, Slotnick said.
“What (Nassar) did was so reprehensible and so disgusting that everyone shares the judge’s sentiment,” he added. “However, it’s unusual that prior to actually rendering a sentencing, the judge is actually expressing her opinion.”
But judges showing empathy for victims is “totally appropriate,” according to Jennifer Long, the chief executive officer at AEquitas, an organization that offers resources to prosecutors in cases of sexual and domestic violence. “I don’t think that’s any way in contradiction to the rules of the judge. It demonstrates that the judge is understanding of the victim’s suffering. [It] makes a huge difference to victims to think about individually getting up and making a statement.”