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Monday, February 09, 2015

STREET CRED-REP: WORKING LATE.

A reputation. Street cred.  "What do I want people saying about me?" 

Every new Judge at some point sits back and wonders what the lawyers are saying about them; what the lawyers are telling their clients.  And for reasons that baffle us, every new judge seems to strive for a reputation of being tough (there are some current exception, especially Judge De La O, who no longer can be considered new). 

First they go with the alliteration, the most famous being "Maximum Morphonious", the moniker of the late Judge Ellen Morphonious. For those judges not fortunate to have a surname beginning with M, they look for other ways to establish their reputation that they are tough.  Eventually they come up with one, and then they get smug, thinking they have thought of something no one else has. This great idea, they say to themselves, "will quickly distinguish me from the rest of the newbies. I will work way past midnight!" 

The quickest way to tell you're dealing with a new and inexperienced judge (who is worried about how others view them) is when they tell you they want to start voire dire around 3:30, openings at 7, and closings after midnight.  "This" the new judges tell themselves "will get the word out about me." 

Let us disabuse you of that notion. 
First, why strive to get the reputation of being a tough sentencer? After all you have went though to become a Judge, isn't "fair" the reputation you want to have? 
With the advent of minimum mandatories, there are more than enough cases to try. Being known as  tough is not going to get those cases to plea anyway, and quite frankly the lawyers don't discuss your audit numbers, so nobody cares how many cases you have open. 

Second, the unfortunate litigants held hostage to your desire to create a reputation pay the price for your ego. This is the most important day in their lives. They want a fair trial, with prepared and well rested lawyers and jurors who aren't falling asleep. Your desire to work the lawyers on the case past midnight as a way of somehow getting everyone to know that you are not to be trifled with will do nothing more than back fire- everyone will know you are scared of your own shadow with no confidence in your abilities. 

Third. Your staff will resent you to the point of hate. And trust us, a staff that hates you can make you life as a judge miserable. They don't get paid enough to work those hours. Some of them have second jobs. 

You new judges have been on the bench now for a month. You've been to "judge-school" where you were told that when you hold a lawyer in contempt it means you've lost control, and you were instructed on how to bang the gavel ("stiff wrist, bend at the elbow…"). 

People have lives. Trials should end between 5-6 p.m. 

Welcome to the bench. 

See You In Court. 

24 comments:

Claude Erskine- Browne said...

The Chief Judges have told the Criminal Court Judges that Jury trials are to end at 4:30 pm from now on. No late trials unless waiting for a verdict

Anonymous said...

I remember delivering closing arguments on a DUI in front of Hendon back in 1999-2000 at 11PM. We left the courtroom after 1 am without a verdict. I had to drive the prosecutors home because their cars had gotten locked up in the SAO county garage. So stupid.

Anonymous said...

To all the new county court judges, STOP PARROTING Judge Slom's speech, it is repetitious ad nauseam and shows that all you want is to CYA!

Anonymous said...

Well put. The Chief Judge should put out guidelines for the newbies about the number of hours a juror or counsel needs to work in a day.

Anonymous said...

Well said. How any court can consider itself other than a kangaroo court, when they allow newbies to keep parties and jurors till midnight, is beyond me. Disgraceful, unprofessional, and abusive. Judge Soto should put a stop to it. Anything past seven, come back tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Funeral today for Judge Marshall Ader at 2:00 pm in Aventura. Riverside Gordon.

Anonymous said...

"have went though"?

Proofread, spell- and grammar-check. Nothing worse than an uppity illiterate.

Anonymous said...

aren't those the cases you remember? why you wanted to be a trial lawyer? hey dad, I did this trial and we stayed to 9pm when the jury came back. or would you rather say you have an 8-5 job?

Rumpole said...

Sick. Calling the shumie. SHUMIE time. Heading home.

Anonymous said...

As a prosecutor from the late 80's, I have nothing positive to say about Ader. All these people complain about idiosyncrasies and quirks of the current judges, but , quite distinguishably, Ader was an elitist that exclusively used the robe for his own agendas. Ader, Sepe, Baxter...those guys were not straight shooters...reflective of a bygone era that I say "good riddance".

Anonymous said...

Hey 3:15, if you are a trial attorney you'll know that your time in the office doesn't end when the trial is in recess. Jurors have been in the building since around 7 a.m., and to ask them to go past 5 is a violation of the defendant's rights. But just because the jurors have been sent home at 5 p.m. doesn't mean you get to go home and watch Better Call Saul. That's if you are a trial attorney.

Anonymous said...

I would try cases until the late hours and I never minded. Lawyers who complain are just lazy.

Now, I do feel for the jurors. They don't want to be there and there is something to be said for a concern that they will decide one way or the other just to get out and go home. That is the ONLY reason that trials should adjourn no later than 7 pm.

Anonymous said...

Whot does dees says?

Anonymous said...

Hendon never worked past 4 pm as a PD. Ever.

Anonymous said...

402...........whatever you may think of Ader, he did have family and friends. The man just passed........was it really necessary for you to bash him at this time? Don't you think his family and friends have enough to deal with at this time? Couldn't you have shown them enough respect to have waited a couple of weeks?

BTDT

Anonymous said...

lawyers whining about this are a bunch of crybabies. man up. Jurors dont want to be here for days and days so you can have time to relax at home. we are seriously disrupting their lives and only arrogant jerkoff lawyers think there time is more valuable.

Anonymous said...

The Professor said:

4:02 - Didn't your mother teach you not to speak ill of the dead, and that if you don't have anything nice to say about them, don't say anything at all (excepting if it is about Bob Levy)?

Was it really necessary to slam the guy? Did it make you feel better or like a better person? You should let us know who you are, so we can make sure that when you pass, we all publish nasty comments about you for your spouse, children and other relatives to read.

Anonymous said...

This is how pets starve to death. When people can't get home on time to feed them.

Anonymous said...

441 pm. yes i was a trial lawyer and did enough trials to know that juries get the instructions at all different times and if they are discharged to deliberate at 3 or 4pm, and most want to get their service over with and out of this shithole building, and if they take till 7 or 8 that is what most prefer as opposed to coming back another day. it is amazing how easily young angry inexperienced bitter attorneys misinterpret or just don't know. when you get nominated by judges and your peers repeatedly for awards then challenge people like me, asshole. now go back to your ticket clinic.

Anonymous said...

Ending trial at a reasonable time has nothing to do with having time to "relax at home." After recessing for the night, there's still a million things to do before beginning again the next day. Preparing for directs and crosses the following day, making contact with witnesses and following up on lingering questions, following up on pieces of physical evidence that must be brought, jury instructions, prepping for closings which might include creating or finalizing demonstrative aids. This is why ending at 9pm is an issue, because that means it's very likely that counsel on both sides has had the briefest of lunch breaks (if any), no dinner, and still has at minimum an hour a work ahead but quite likely more. As much as one tries to prep the majority of this stuff before trial begins, things change as testimony comes out so there are always additional tasks. I don't think it's helping either side if all the attorneys are exhausted. And it's unnecessary. I am very thankful for conscientious judges who release jurors by 630pm and attorneys no later than 7pm.

Anonymous said...

I once was in a trial for 3 weeks with a total of 8 lawyers, my longest trial. (now someone will right in and say they had a longer trial in federal court). the judge overworked us so we would finish in time for his christmas vacation. 5 defendants, 3 prosecutors. some of you now know the case. one defense attorney told me there was case law that overworking attorneys is an issue that can be raised. depriving us of lunch, we worked 12 or 13 days in a row, that's right, we worked on sunday and 2 saturdays. anyway- working attorneys so hard that they are sleep deprived and perhaps food deprived could be raised as a right to competent counsel issue, 5th and 6th amendment. of course for clients where the evidence is overwhelming, the more errors the better, right?

Anonymous said...

12:03 said "of course for clients where the evidence is overwhelming, the more errors the better, right?"

Yes because I'm sure our forefathers wrote the Constitution with the idea that defense attorneys could play the system and get murderers, rapists, and other fine citizens off on technicalities.

Anonymous said...

thank you 858 for your prosecutorial mindset. let me guess, white and work at sao.99% of prosecutors eventually realize that they are prosecuting the poor, victims of parentless upbringings and victims of a racist white dominated society. everytime a minority who is guilty gets off by what defense attorneys do pays back 1/100 millionth of the pain european whites inflicted on blacks by bringing slavery to the caribbean and then u.s. now go out and get drunk you 28yr. old from the upper middle class.

Anonymous said...

11:06 AM--I'm not white, I've dealt with racism myself, and you have no idea what my life has been.

I guess according to you, every crime committed by someone black should be forgiven? By virtue of the past, everything is excused? No one has the responsibility to try to be a good person, try to make good decisions, try not to murder, rape, and steal? The way you think doesn't help the poor and ignorant. Getting people off for crimes they've committed doesn't help them. It doesn't teach them, rehabilitate them, uplift their existence in any way. They will continue to think that what they are now is fine and they can get away with doing bad. They will bring misery upon other innocent people. They will continue the cycle of misery by having and abusing their children. What you do and how you think helps no one and heaps further negativity onto an already struggling part of society. If you actually cared about these minorities, you should be involved in charity, education, or mentoring. Something that actually contributes to society, not to pointless reverse-racism that does no one, ESPECIALLY us minorities, any good.