The Judge-Maxims for All Court Appearences

Often I see inquiries from lawyers asking how to deal with a particular  judge. Having been a United States Federal District Court Law Clerk for my first two years as a lawyer, and having appeared before judges hundreds of times, I am amazed when a lawyer asks about dealing with a particular judge. This post discusses my maxims as far as dealing with any and all judges.

Be Prepared. Never appear before a judge unless you have reviewed the entire pleading file, know all relevant facts, briefed all relevant law, know what you want to accomplish, and how you are going to accomplish it.

Be Organized. Have a neat, organized file. An organized lawyer often beats a disorganized lawyer on organization alone.

Be On Time. Never enter a courtroom late. Be early enough to introduce yourself to the lower bench and set  your presentation.

Look Professional. Always wear a suit or sport coat, shirt pressed, with tie, and decent shoes. Stand tall and carry yourself with confidence.

Meet Lower Bench. On entering courtroom introduce yourself to the bailiff, clerk, and court reporter. Remember their names. Establish a professional repore with them. Never underestimate the importance of the lower bench.

Follow Local Rules. Know the court’s local rules, and follow them. If the judge says ten minutes for argument stay within ten minutes.

Go through the Paces.  Never assume the judge has read the briefs.  Unless the judge directs otherwise, cover all significant facts and the relevant law. In a bench trial make an opening statement.

The Judge is a Juror.  Treat the judge like a sophisticated juror which she is (especially in a bench trial). She has emotions and is moved by a compelling story just like a juror. Look her in the eyes and stay away from reading.

Show Respect. Accept a bad result with professionalism and dignity. Never display  disrespectful distaste for the judge or the process.

Rarely Affidavit a Judge. Never affidavit a judge unless you draw the worst judge in the courthouse and stand little chance of success. The problem with an affidavit is twofold: 1) you may then draw a worse judge; 2) the next judge sees you have affidavited his fellow judge. Judges usually like one another. They do not look fondly on the lawyer who has exercised an affidavit.

Build Your Reputation. Every court appearance win or lose adds or subtracts to your courthouse reputation. Follow the above maxims and win or lose you add to your reputation as a solid lawyer.

 

    14 Responses to “The Judge-Maxims for All Court Appearences”

    1. Another tip is to get to know the judge by visiting the judge’s website. For example King County Superior Court Judge John P. Erlick has published his Rules of Conduct for counsel online http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/SuperiorCourt/judges/erlick.aspx

    2. I like your Maxims for All Court Appearences | Zen counsel Seattle now im your rss reader

    3. You are a blast! I am making an attempt to find something I don’t agree about lawyers, but how do you dispute with a pro? LOL… Fantastic job as usually.

    4. labor law says:

      Excellent indeed. I have been looking for this information.

    5. Ira Mcthay says:

      If you are looking for a lawyer / solicitor in the UK and are struggling to find one with the right specialism to help you with your problem then you could try United Kingdom Lawyers as they have a database of lawyers listed not only by location but also by specialism so you should be able to find the lawyer you need

    6. Charlene Truchan says:

      hehe cool! I like this site

    7. 外遇問題 says:

      Good points. Can be considered a learned thing, ok.

    8. Would you be considering exchanging links?

    9. Antoine Przeniczny says:

      This is an awesome written piece! I’ve book marked and sent to my friends because I know they’ll be interested, thank you very much!

    10. Terrific, this information is exactly what I was searching for.

    11. Arnie NItis says:

      Sweet post! It’s remarkable what you can do with PDA’s, I just got one and your site is one of the first I happened to view, just googled some stuff and clicked your link. Anyways, like I said, fun read.

    12. Very good post. Will you please write much more about this subject.

    13. Magda Battiste says:

      I am glad I discovered a person who shares my view.

    Leave a Reply