Wednesday, August 23, 2017

10 Tips for Better Judges

    During nearly 30 years practicing law, I've sat through numerous seminars where judges suggest tips to lawyers to make them better lawyers.  I've never heard of judges attending a seminar where lawyers are invited (or would dare) to suggest tips to make judges better.  Having tried all kinds of cases in all kinds of courts before all kinds of judges, here is my current "top 10" list of tips for better judges:

10.  Brush up on the the law before ruling on legal matters.

9.  Apply and enforce applicable rules of procedure.

8.  Apply and enforce your own rules (like case and trial management orders).

7.  Set deadlines and enforce them.

6.  Be consistent and diligently treat litigants the same.

5.  Be decisive - make timely decisions and rulings and stick to them.

4.  Use your power to do justice.  You're not a machine.

3.  Don't do the job of a litigant.  You're not a prosecutor or a defense lawyer.  You're the judge.

2.  Issue legible and unambiguous written rulings, the sooner the better.

1.  Resign once you become jaded.