Judge's Corner

Article Index

Judicial Challenges The Honorable Janet Stauffer, 7th Judicial Circuit (August/September 2017)

Use of Fictitious Names for Parties in Civil Litigation in Oregon The Honorable James Hargreaves (Senior Judge, retired), Lane County Circuit Court (June/July 2017)

The Judge's Pledge The Honorable Susan Tripp, Marion County Circuit Court (May/June 2017)

Organizing for the Courtroom The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (March/April 2017)

A Two Year Journey with Odyssey in Juvenile Court The Honorable Lindsay Partridge, Marion County Circuit Court (January/February 2017)

Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project The Honorable Curtis Conover, Lane County Circuit Court (November/December 2016)

20 Ways to Further Justice The Honorable Ilisa Rooke-Ley, Lane County Circuit Court (October/November 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving Your Judge Crazy (and maybe even making it easier for everyone) The Honorable Henry Kantor, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving the Judge's Staff Crazy The Honorable Eve L. Miller, Clackamas County Circuit Court (August 2016)

Do's and Don'ts in the Courtroom The Honorable Lisa Greif, Jackson County Circuit Court (June/July 2016)

Preparation for a Status, Case Management, or Pretrial conference - or how to get more out of a non-evidentiary proceeding in criminal and family court cases The Honorable Kirsten E. Thompson, Washington County Circuit Court (April/May 2016)

Postponements The Honorable Richard Barron, Presiding Judge, Coos/Curry County Circuit Court (March 2016)

Consider Trying More Cases The Honorable Suzanne Chanti, Lane County Circuit Court Judge (February 2016)

Professionalism - It Counts Both In and Out of the Courtroom The Honorable Brian Dretke, Union County Circuit Court Judge (January 2016)

Changes to Sex Changes The Honorable Beth A. Allen, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge (December 2015)

Top 25 Tips from a Senior Judge The Honorable Michael C. Sullivan, Senior Judge (retired), Deschutes County (November 2015)

How to Succeed at Power Point In the Courtroom The Honorable Michael McShane, US District Court (October 2015)

Effective Use of Evidence At Jury Trial The Honorable Matthew Donohue, Benton County Circuit Court (September 2015)

Making a Record for Appeal, The Honorable Charles M. Zennaché, Lane County Circuit Court (August 2015)

Access to Civil Justice in Oregon's State Courts, The Honorable David Brewer, Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (July 2016)

What Jurors Want: A Look Into the Minds of Jurors, The Honorable John V. Acosta, United States Magistrate Judge (June 2015)

Handling the "Half-se" Hearing, The Honorable Mustafa Kasubhai, Lane County Circuit Court (May 2015)

Effective Voir Dire, Judge Thomas Hart, Marion County Circuit Court (April 2015)

The New Judge on the Block, Judge Lung S. Hung, Malheur County Circuit Court (March 2015)

The Gift of Finality: One PJ's Perspective, Judge Karsten H. Rasmussen, Lane County Circuit Court (February 2015)

ORCP 68 Attorney Fees - when, why and how to seek them, Judge Deanne L. Darling, Clackamas Juvenile Court (January 2015)

Difficult questions must be answered before they are asked, Judge Edward J. Jones, Multnomah County Circuit Court (December 2014)

Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences, Judge Jamese L. Rhoades and Sr. Judge Don Dickey, Marion County Circuit Court (November 2014)

Working together to make discovery more efficient, The Honorable Youlee Yim You, Multnomah County Circuit Court (October 2014)

Court Trials - A Jury of One, The Honorable Katherine E. Tennyson, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2014)

Making the Most of Short Evidentiary Hearings, The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (August 2014)

Vouching, The Honorable Jay McAlpin, Lane County Circuit Court (July 2014)

Appropriate Jury Instructions Can Help Litigators Win Trials, The Honorable Paula Brownhill, Clatsop County Circuit Court (June 2014)

Evidentiary Hearings and Motion Practice in the era of Oregon e-court, The Honorable Benjamin Bloom, Jackson County Circuit Court (May 2014)

Motions in Limine - Tips for "Newer" Litigators, The Honorable Jodie Mooney, Lane County Circuit Court (April 2014)

The Honorable Lisa Greif
Jackson County Circuit Court
(June/July 2016)

Do's and Don'ts in the Courtroom

I have been a circuit court judge in Jackson County since January 2009. In these seven plus years, I have, like many of my colleagues, developed preferences for what I do and don't like in my courtroom. What follows is a short list of some of my "pet peeves" and "delights."

DO be on time. If you are going to be late to court, a phone call to one of the clerks or judicial assistants with a heads up is much appreciated. I would program all of the judges' clerks and/or judicial assistants' extensions into your cell phone so the numbers are readily accessible. Or, another option is to have another attorney who is going to be in the same courtroom let the judge know your status when the case is called. When I can't move forward on the docket due to attorneys who are MIA, it is quite frustrating.

DON'T forget to silence your cell phone when you are in the courtroom and please tell your clients to do the same. It's bad enough when a party, witness, or spectator's cell phone goes off in the middle of a session (I particularly enjoy the loud rap or heavy metal music ringtones); it's even worse when it's an attorney sitting near or at the counsel tables.

DO talk to your clients about how to dress for/appear in court. It can be hard for me to take a person seriously who is wearing a baseball cap, smacking gum loudly, has a Budweiser t-shirt on, or who literally looks like they just rolled out of bed and are wearing pajamas. I don't need a suit and tie (although, let me tell you, this does stand out), but at least have your clients come to court looking semi-presentable. When I was an attorney, I used to tell my clients to wear what they would to church or to a job interview. Most of the time they showed up looking pretty respectable. Remember that decorum is about aligning one's conduct and appearance with the matter at hand. Everyone is reminded of the importance of the work we do when your client dresses as if Court were an important matter to him or her.

DO prepare exhibit lists for the judge. Try to show your exhibits to opposing counsel in advance if at all possible and definitely bring a copy for the other side. That way we don't have attorneys spending court time reading a 50 page document in the middle of a trial or hearing. If you can get your hands on a stash of exhibit stickers, it is very helpful to have them pre-marked. All of these facilitate the introduction of any physical evidence occur in a timely manner.

DON'T forget to brush up on character/prior bad acts evidence. I think a lot of attorneys (and judges) struggle with this area of the law. I had a pretty awful criminal trial my first year as a judge involving Measure 11 sex offenses. I allowed some prior bad acts evidence to come in against the defendant and the case was ultimately reversed by the Court of Appeals. I still wish I had ruled differently (yes, even judges perseverate about decisions they make).

DO submit trial or hearing memorandums when appropriate. I don't handle any jury trials in my current caseload of juvenile, probate, domestic relations, and treatment courts, so I make all of the decisions in the cases that come before me. It's great to know what is at issue, get a condensed history of prior court proceedings, and be referred to the pertinent statutory provisions and case law. I have come to appreciate the memorandums and find them to be very effective "road maps."

DON'T object just for the sake of making an objection. Does it harm your case or your client? Then don't object. When I preside over trials with veteran lawyers, they hardly ever seem to object to the evidence. The overuse of objections drives judges (and juries) crazy in my opinion. And when you do make an objection, stand up and clearly say "objection" and then follow immediately with the basis for the objection. Finally, don't argue with the judge or overreact if you don't agree with the ruling. Simply saying "thank you, your honor" is greatly appreciated.

DO know your judge. Is he/she an evidence guru? How formal is he/she in the courtroom? Does the judge enjoy humor from time to time? Are there any quirks you need to know about? Ask other attorneys who regularly appear before the judge for tips in advance. I have also seen attorneys post questions about judges on some of the e-mail list serves (OWLS, OSB sections, etc.). Just be careful to not reply to the entire list publicly, as judges are on these lists too. If you have time, go watch the judge in session to observe for yourself his/her mannerisms, personality, etc. As an attorney, I often went to visit with the judge after a trial or hearing to get feedback. This proved to be quite helpful for future cases. In my county, the judges have an open door policy. We all enjoy chatting with the lawyers and getting to know them better. The judges I work with are happy to give an attorney who comes by our offices an honest assessment of his/her court presentation.

And lastly, DON'T overlook the importance of professional courtesy and respect. And, not just towards the judge. Courtesy and respect should also be extended to opposing counsel, the other parties, witnesses, and court staff. You are not going to make a good impression on me if you are belittling other people in the courtroom or if you are rude and condescending to my clerks or judicial assistant. If you are cordial and maintain an appropriate demeanor, it will go a long way.

 

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