Judging Judges: The Three Fs – Firm, Fair and Friendly

I recently appeared in front of a judge whom I have known for 4-5 years but have never appeared in front of or otherwise been in his court.   I got a chance to listen to him handle a bunch of matters before he got to mine.  It was a good experience.  My impression of his conduct on the bench was excellent.

I was thinking of what I am going to tell him the next time we speak and came up with Firm, Fair and Friendly.

The worst judges are those who are indecisive, who change their minds, treat everything like a settlement conference, who look for ways to avoid making a decision, let everyone talk on and on.  This is often caused by being unprepared but just as often are just indecisive people.  But in being firm, the judge must be fair.  The parties have the right to be heard.  Their issues, concerns and interpretation of the facts must be considered by the judge, meaning he must read what has been filed, and listen to what is being said.  Finally and probably the least important is friendly.  I’ll take the jerk if I get the other two but friendly helps.

Judge Judy to me is a disgrace.  She makes the show about her, the court experience is about her.  Look at me! Look at me!  It is a disgrace that people watch that show and think that is how our system works.

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