There was a time, not so long ago, when judges were “potted plants.” The judicial role was widely reserved, somewhat withdrawn, apart from public statement or positions, and any work to change the legal system was considered improper. Changing standards and challenging times seem to have changed all that.
As COVID-19 numbers descend, we are left with a plethora of mixed feelings. Many are overwhelmed with joy and giddiness. Some are still numb and can’t feel anything — yet. And others are trying to make sense of the past two years and the lasting realities that lay ahead. Our courts and judges fit into the latter category.
What do Saint Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers, and Indiana’s commercial courts have in common? They both made history by the effective streamlining of business law cases.
Last year, the National Judicial College surveyed judges regarding their recommended books. Some were expected, but others were surprising.
Everyone is now familiar with the ongoing effects of COVID-19 upon how the world is working, and some possible future scenarios both in the legal profession and beyond. The question for judges at every level is, “Do we ever need in-person proceedings?”
Despite serious travails during our history, presidential inaugurations seem to allow for a pause and some national confidence. Noting this recently, it is perhaps well that we set briefly aside our current concerns and allow some reflection to lighten us up and to observe the critical importance of the judicial branch.
Character is not an aspiration for lawyers, it is a requirement. It is not an exception, it is the rule. No other profession in the world carries such a heavy obligation because the consequences are so great if we fail.
The pandemic has become a mother of invention. But when we return, as we are all committed, to whatever “new normal,” let’s pledge as much “in-person” as the ongoing 21st century court system will allow.
As his judging life comes to a crossroads, Judge John Baker sees similarities between his first days in small claims court and his last days now on the Court of Appeals.
I have always wanted to be a basketball referee. Throughout my sports fan life, I have often seen refs that were good, and some that were not so good. As a new lawyer many years ago, and through 16 years of pre-bench practice, I also saw judges who were good and some who were not so good. I always made mental notes about the essential qualities of both kinds of judges for my future reference.
The Judicial Nominating Commission in August reappointed Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush for another term. It was hardly a surprise. Chief Justice Rush is a special kind of judge. Recently, she took time to reflect on her work and remarkable career.
In 2017, the Legal Services Corporation found 86 percent of civil legal problems of low-income Americans receive no or inadequate help. So what, if anything, should judges do when faced with people in court day after day without lawyers?
Marion Superior Judge David J. Dreyer channels his inner James Joyce for observations about a day in the life of a trial court judge.
As we complete a long, complicated year, my great judge journey leads me to a wish list. While wish lists are not uncommon for gift-giving season, or the start of a new year, this one is intended for regular rumination.
What do people think about judges? And what do judges think about them? In the nonstop information age, whatever the public thinks about the courts, it may not matter if nobody, including judges, can actually notice and think about it for any meaningful length of time.
In 2010, three Columbia University researchers worked with the Israeli justice system and looked at over 1,000 rulings made in the courtroom, over almost a year, about probation and parole. The results showed, as blogger Alex Mayyasi wrote on the website Priceonomics, that “the judges’ decision-making ability was as lousy as a kindergartener’s focus right before a snack break.”
Every trial judge must balance the letter of the law with the conscience of the community. A judge must be able to put any case in a full social and human context before applying the technical rules of the law. To do otherwise is to lose the most important and powerful tool upon which every judge must rely: the ability to feel.