Blog will be slow for a few days. Sorry. I will try and get the comments up as soon as possible.
You ever get the feeling a Judge just doesn't want to pick a jury?
Newly minted Judge Joe Fernandez responded to a complaint:
Joe Fernandez said...
Wow! What an inauspicious way to finally make the blog, huh?
A concerned friend alerted me to the post to which I will respond as follows:
I do not have a policy of not calling lawyers out of turn. I only have one announced policy and that is a policy of accommodation...I haven't had the need to come up with any others. In fact any lawyer can walk up at almost anytime and ask to be called out of turn on any calendar. This is generally not possible when dealing with a trial calendar becasue of the unique logistics of a trial calendar. Sometimes, I know, I fail to announce that private lawyers can come up and call their cases. It's because I simply forget to do so...still getting used to this judge thing, I guess. Some lawyers come in and sit in the audience and never say anything until their case is called. It is a large, poorly lit courtroom. I will often ask my bailiff to approach these folks and ask if they are attorneys and, if so, to tell them to come up and call their case. Some lawyers come to Court dressed informally (which I generally don't mind) so there is no way for me to know until I call the case.
I make an effort to call folks with children or scheduling problems out of turn even if they are pro se. This past friday was unusual because there were 3 infraction trial calendars in a row, with an average of 42 cases per calendar. The majority of these are accident cases with civilian witnesses and police officers. These cases often involve lengthy testimony. I only have 45 minutes for each calendar and everyone wants to get out of there. No one (attorney or pro se party) has ever taken me up on my offer to return after lunch or later in the day. Again, I am still learning.
Regarding the "yell[ing]" at a "defendant" (I usually call them "drivers" in infraction cases, by the way): I don't yell. If, as the poster says, he/she was in the courtroom for an "unusually long" period of time that morning, he/she knows that.
As a lawyer for 17 years (12 as a criminal defense attorney) prior to being elected, I never thought it inappropriate for a judge, when called upon and when appropriate, to make an impression on a party by speaking firmly. To avoid any possible violation of the canons by discussing the case, I invite anonymous to call my office (anonymously, if he/she wishes) to discuss any concerns.
Rumpole says: well done.
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