Judge's Corner

Article Index

Summary Judgment Motions - To File or Not to File? The Honorable Danielle J. Hunsaker, Washington County Circuit Court, Jason Kafoury, Kafoury & McDougal, and Joel Mullin, Stoel Rives, LLP (April 2019)

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)

Court Trials - A Jury of One

The Honorable Katherine E. Tennyson, Circuit Judge
Multnomah County Circuit Court

(September 2014)

Early on in my legal career, I heard a lawyer say that the biggest mistake made in trials to a judge is the failure to prepare those trials with as much care as trials to a jury. After 12 years on the bench and many, many court trials, I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. There is no doubt that it is a professional privilege to preside over a well tried case. There is also nothing more embarrassing than an unprepared lawyer with a client counting on that lawyer to let their voice be heard. The four steps below are a guide to the most effective presentation and ultimately, the best outcomes.


Whole seminars focus on jury selection; when lawyers want to know about a judge, they invite discussion on a public listserve. A better plan might be to do a little research into your judge's legal background, to observe your judge actually presiding over a case other than yours and to locate any information your judge has posted on the court's website or through a local bar association about preferred trial practices. Careful lawyers also try to find unreported opinions written by the trial judge in similar subject areas. This type of research will let you know the best ways to help your trial judge understand your case. You must be flexible enough in your methods to tailor your message to the judge hearing your case. Lawyers do well to remember that judges' decisions are only as good as the information we have when we make them and lawyers are responsible for getting us that information in a legally sufficient form.


All trials include certain rituals. You must have command of the technical requirements of each of those rituals. Examination of witnesses, offering exhibits and asserting objections all have a rhythm of their own. Good lawyers are not all the same, but all good lawyers know those rituals cold. Not only do they help you look like you know what you are doing, they minimize distractions so that the judge can focus on the information you are presenting. Where possible, stipulate to exhibits as early and as often as you can. The sooner a trial judge has the exhibits, the more able that judge is to listen with an understanding ear to the testimony of the witnesses. If an interpreter is needed, follow the rules to ensure that one will be present and understand how to work with an interpreter to streamline the time interpretation adds to the proceeding.


Your trial memorandum will help set the stage for the legal issues the trial presents. It is vital that you know the statutes, case law, or evidence rule upon which you intend to rely. If you are not prepared to give the legal authority for an assertion you make, you may find yourself like a young lawyer I know (me) 30 years ago making a perfectly logical argument (to her) completely contrary to case law (if she'd only bothered to look). Judges hear a lot of different cases in a lot of different subject matter areas. Not only is it your job to make us an expert on your case, the outcome may depend upon it.


This area is more nuanced than the others and probably requires more adverse experiences to develop than some lawyers would like to admit. In any case, it is important to get a clear view of what is actually "driving the train" of the dispute. In some cases, especially those involving family disputes-business, probate or divorce-the reason for the dispute has little to do with the law. As a result, the solution for that case may not be a trial at all. It is up to the lawyers of the case to understand what method of dispute resolution may best fit the case and use the abilities granted you by RPC 2.1 to get your clients to use that method.


Oregon State Bar Litigation Section
Copyright © 2007-2019, All rights reserved

Web page design and hosting by Appaloosa