California family law attorney Thurman W. Arnold, III, CFLS, offers tips and advice for lawyers and self represented parties dealing with family law judges.
The article is titled, “Pointers for Dealing with Family Court Judges (Difficult and Otherwise) – What Every Lawyer and Pro Per Should Know!“ and can be found at: http://www.thurmanarnold.com/Family-Law-Blog/2011/June/Pointers-for-Dealing-With-FAMILY-COURT-JUDGES-Di.aspx
NOTE: This article is NOT meant to replace or substitute legal advise. If you need help for your legal situation, please contact a professional.
“..judges like the rest of us can be difficult and reactive at times, and it can be quite challenging for attorneys and pro se litigants to know how to prepare for, and best behave within, the sometimes edgy or emotional atmosphere of family courtrooms. This tension, if not understood or managed correctly, can have negative consequences in terms of outcomes and more.
My intention is not to imply criticism of our bench officers…Here are some pointers for how not to aggravate your family court judge or commissioner and a few thoughts about what to do if that happens, despite your best efforts. I also want to start a dialogue about how to make the job of family law judges easier for them, or – to put it another way – to discuss a bit about how we might help them to help us.” — Thurman W. Arnold, III, CFLS
(in brief, the article goes into greater depth, and covers more topics)
*Come prepared to court
*Be prepared for your judge (which may involve some research or court watching. Getting advise or insight from other attorneys or family law professionals may also help).
*Give proper notice to the court if a continuance is needed
*Be familiar with court procedures and rules. Utilize legal assistance agencies or self-help service centers if needed. Never submit late paperwork or filings. Make sure your paperwork is properly served, and the notice of service is filed with the court in accordance to the court rules.
*Be professional and controlled in the court. Do not talk to the other party or engage them in any way. Instead, address the judge when it is your turn to speak. If you have people come into court to support you, make sure they are people who will be calm, and professionals –those creating a distraction could hurt your case.
*Start your presentation as if the judge has never read the court file. At the same time do not imply the judge has not read the file, and do not ask. Outline the most relevant aspects of your case in a way that is clear, concise and short (do not go through the entire case history or bring up point that are not relevant).
*Make it easy for the judge to read your filings, and make sure the filings and exhibits comply with the court rules.
*Be mindful of how you convey your message. Avoid arguments with the judge. You can be assertive and make your point in a calm, polite manner.
*Don’t tell the judge that it is obvious that the case is already decided. Be prepared to be polite, brief, and educate the court about what you are asking for, and why you are entitled to it.
*Be prepared to cite recent statutes and laws (authorities), and bring copies to court if what you are referencing is so new that the judge may not be familiar with it.
There are also tips on how to deal with specific situation such as a judge who hates family law, a judge who comes off as hostile and a judge who won’t let you argue your case.
This article is insightful, easy to read and offers invaluable tips. I highly recommend, and it can be especially helpful if going to court without an attorney.
Have any other tips or ideas? Please post in the comments below!