Scene: Civil Family Courthouse. "Joes Cafe".
Chief Judge Joe Farina is on the phone with some colleagues who are on a golf course: "He did what on the ninth? With a five iron? Get outta here!"
A bailiff arrives with a reporter in tow: Bailiff: "Chief, this reporter wants to know where all the Judges are."
Reporter: "It's 2:15 pm on a Friday afternoon, and there is only one judge in the criminal courthouse, and I'm not naming names, but he's still on his arraignment calendar."
Chief Joe: " I am shocked, shocked to find out Judges are leaving early."
Here is the thing: In our opinion, the worst place a judge can be, from the prospective of a lawyer, is working. Keep them on the golf course and out of our hair we say. They will only cause trouble and mess things up if they start working late and paying attention to their cases. Things are just fine the way they are.
First of all, the worst thing a Judge can do is work late and keep jurors and litigants in court all hours of the night. It makes for a very poorly presented case, and jurors end up too tired to devote the time and energy necessary to do their job properly. We have always criticized judges, usually new county court judges, who think they are demonstrating some kind of macho attitude by working to midnight and taking verdicts at 2AM. If this happens as a result of the story, we will all be worse off for it.
There is a fine line between a Judge who works hard and wants to try cases, and if their calendar is clear and there is nothing to do, leave at 3-4pm, and the judge who treats the job as a 10-2 jackpot, and picks up their kids at 4 so they can shop and cook dinner by six. The former judge does not deserve criticism, while the latter does.
Lets face it: there is a prevalent criticism that says some judges sought the bench because they could not make it in private practice. Like any stereotype, it demeans our profession to deal in anything but particulars. Some Judges are great, some are good, and some stink. Just like lawyers or stupid Football general managers who waste a first round draft pick on a wide receiver who is injured and may not even practice before August. Where was I? Oh yeah- Judges.
As much as we have demonstrated a particular glee when any of our robed readers are taken down a notch or two, we truly hope that the upcoming story does not unfairly target a hard working Judge. We all know the Judges who are hardworking, dedicated, and willing to pitch in to try someone else’s case in a pinch. We hope the media has not happened on one of those and caught the rare occasion they took an afternoon off.
As for our robed readers we have a suggestion: if you want to play golf a few times a week at 3 pm, or spend a lazy Friday afternoon fishing, or wake up at 9 am and go to the gym before ambling into work, do what thousands of other likeminded individuals and great Americans have done: run for Congress.
See You In Court, hopefully not working too late.