Judge Robert H. Dierker's courtroom demeanor is imperious — he once halted proceedings and, schoolmaster-style, instructed a reporter reclining in the gallery to keep her "feet off the furniture." And yet, this judge with the owlish glasses and smart bowties frequently smirks as legal counsel argue before him, as if they've somehow amused him. On paper, he shows an ability to cut through the rhetoric from both sides and present the legal issue before him with stark clarity, even while sprinkling in wry asides. You could almost hear him sigh in a judicial order concerning the lawsuit against developer Paul McKee's master plan to transform north St. Louis: "The Gateway Mall, Mercantile Center, St. Louis Centre, Ballpark Village and now Northside Regeneration, perhaps the most ambitious of all. The 'City of Plans' adopts yet another." Later, after proceedings the developer failed to attend, Dierker wrote, "The Court did not have the pleasure of meeting Paul McKee at trial." Dierker's wit is dry; his analysis, deft. May he endure on the bench, and keep dispensing justice with style.