A severe to profound hearing loss only sharpens Stanley Glenn's senses and ambitions.
Stanley Glenn loves a challenge.
As an Assistant Public Defender in a high crime rate area of Florida, he found one. His standard caseload is heavy. He handles 140-190 felony cases at any given moment. He must prepare, know all the facts of each case, and anticipate the prosecution's moves. And in the high tension of the courtroom he must grasp every nuance in the interaction of prosecutors, judges, witnesses and defendants and be able to think on his feet. People's lives are at stake.
"Sometimes it's a bit scary," he says, referring to cases with clients charged with drug dealing or sex offenses. "I handle life sentence cases. It weighs heavy on the heart."
Glenn also happens to be severely to profoundly hearing impaired. He can hear only a fraction of what anyone says, even with his state-of-the-art digital hearing aids. Yet, according to his colleagues in the St. Lucie County Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, he never misses a beat.
This is a result of technical aids and all the special skills Glenn has developed throughout his life to overcome his hearing loss. In the courtroom, he reads what is being said on a screen with real-time transcription from the court reporter while he also listens, lip-reads and draws further information from people's facial expressions and body language.
Judges who regularly preside over his cases find Glenn remarkable. Attorneys who work with him find him inspirational. But while his local reputation is strong, the men and women he represents are skeptical when they first meet him, and he is not offended when some ask for another attorney.
"I know it is difficult for people to put their lives in the hands of anyone, let alone someone who can not always hear what is being said. And so I tell prospective clients that I am out to prove to them that I can handle their cases. In the end, I want my clients to say: 'I feel I got the best representation I could have gotten, whether I had a private attorney or public representation'. To me, it is the ultimate reward when someone actually says it."
At the age of 28, Glenn has already taken on more challenges than most people do in a lifetime. He was probably born with his hearing loss. But it was not diagnosed until he was almost four years old. His preschool teacher noticed that he was unresponsive unless he faced her when she asked him a question.
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