Appellate Briefs - February 2013: Dealing with a Difficult Judge


Dealing with a Difficult Judge
I find it difficult to believe that February has come roaring in, but here we are in the month of hearts and flowers. According to Wikipedia, Saint Valentine has been associated “with a tradition of courtly love” for hundreds of years, and by the 15th century, the Feast of St. Valentine “evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards.” So much for my theory that Valentine’s Day was cooked up by Hallmark, or an association of florists and jewelers. So what exactly is “courtly love?” Somehow I suspect it is not actually related to courts, but reading this little blurb about the origins of the February 14 ritual started me to thinking about a lawyer’s professional relationship with the courts, and particularly with judges, and the frequently asked question of the month: what can I do about a judge who appears to be hostile, or at least plainly does not like me?
Always have a court reporter, remain professional and courteous at all times and remember that in most such situations, judges simply are trying to do their job and reach the right result, and the perception of ill will or animosity is incorrect. Having a court reporter present for all court appearances will ensure a record in the unlikely event that judicial conduct rising to a level that might afford relief occurs. Remaining professional and courteous will respect the dignity of the office and its holder and ensure that you do not give the court reason for an unfavorable personal reaction.  And keeping in mind the function of the judge, and the weight of the responsibility to get the law and facts right and to do justice, will help you keep a more accurate perspective. 
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Marie Tomassi is Florida Bar Board Certified in Appellate Practice. She has been an attorney with Trenam Kemker since 1988 and serves on the firm's three person Management Committee. She can be reached at or 727-820-3952.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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