‘Miracle on 34th Street’: Judge issues ruling – Yes, there is a Santa Claus

Attorney Richard Herrmann defends the existence of Santa Claus at the Kent County Courthouse Wednesday morning. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

DOVER — The spirit of Santa Claus remains very much alive in Delaware’s courtrooms.

Every year since 2004, Delaware’s court system has teamed with schools and lawyers to show there’s no disproving that Kris Kringle exists.

In a heartwarming recreation of the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street” on Thursday morning, Superior Court Judge Jane Brady dismissed a case against a jolly old fellow with a white beard claiming to be St. Nicholas.

A few hundred schoolchildren in the audience rang bells with every mention of Santa Claus or Kris Kringle during a 20-minute mock competency hearing at the Kent County Courthouse, then they lustily sang “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” at the end of the performance.

Despite the best efforts of prosecutor Charles Coates, Judge Brady found no evidence that the man before her was not Santa Claus. Her verdict came after being presented with several bags of kids letters addressed to the North Pole.

“It’s very disheartening because I lose every year,” Mr. Coates lamented after the third show of the morning.

Moments after receiving hundreds of letters addressed to the North Pole, Superior Court Judge Jane Brady dismissed a case against a man claiming to be Kris Kringle. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Dan Slipetsky has taken the role of defendant Kris Kringle for years now, appearing in courtrooms in Kent, New Castle, and Sussex counties with a genuine twinkle in his eye.

Arguing for the man also known as Father Christmas was retired attorney Richard Herrmann, who hatched the idea of presenting the movie’s courtroom scene right around Christmas time. About 1,500 public and private school students a year sit in on the trial.

“We just have such a wonderful reaction from the children every year,” Mr. Herrmann said with a smile.

A cast of characters played out the competency hearing for the man identifying himself as Kris Kringle for a few hundred students in spacious Courtroom One. The three performances gave no reason to believe that Santa Claus does not exist.

Fourth-grader Katie Molter took the convincing role of the prosecutor’s daughter who still believes, and got her dad to admit he told her of Santa Claus and would never lie to her.

Taking the part of Mr. Kringle’s employer Mr. Macy was Pamela Quail-Brummell and Mary Pat Fitzpatrick. Lisa Parker sat at the table with prosecutor Mr. Coates as a mental health professional. Sean O’Sullivan acted as Postmaster General, testifying to the amount of mail addressed to Santa Claus.

“We just have a magical time at a magical time of the year,” Judge Brady said between performances.

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