Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How Much Litigation Experience is a Lot Nowadays?

Hypo: Lawyer 1 has tried about 25 felony jury trials, a c tojagornottojag02/09/18
All of them have enough experience to be a judge. Trial expe jorgedeclaro02/09/18
Probably all of them. You only need a minimum amount of tria isthisit02/09/18
They all do, which one has connections? That's the person wh trollfeeder02/09/18
Not true. The last judge who joined my bench won because of jorgedeclaro02/09/18
Jorgedeclaro, awful in as in old hacks? I'm trying to figur tojagornottojag02/10/18
Jorgedeclaro, awful in as in old hacks? I'm trying to figur tojagornottojag02/10/18
Awful as in five tool terrible candidates. First, a cont jorgedeclaro02/10/18
I might have to steal "five-tool terrible." Thanks for the tojagornottojag02/10/18
Only people who played baseball growing up will understand i jorgedeclaro02/11/18
I agree with those who have said that all are qualified. In onehell02/12/18
Onehell, thanks for the opinion. Why do you think felony ju tojagornottojag02/13/18
tojagornottojag (Feb 9, 2018 - 12:32 am)

Hypo:

Lawyer 1 has tried about 25 felony jury trials, a couple of civil jury trials (federal court), and maybe 30 admin hearings (mini trials).

Lawyer 2 has about 60 misdemeanor trials, maybe 5-10 felony trials, and a handful of civil trials in state court.

Lawyer 3 has tried a handful of big civil cases as first or second chair, and worked on tons of other cases that have settled.

Let's say each of these lawyers has been out of school 15ish years and they all have the same credentials. Do any of these candidates have enough litigation experience yet to be a judge?

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 9, 2018 - 12:53 am)

All of them have enough experience to be a judge. Trial experience is important but not the most important qualification of a judge. Competence and legal ability are the big qualifications. There are trial attorneys with 30 years experience I wouldn’t let defend a traffic ticket for me. Anyone who has fifteen years of a civil litigation practice that is not all PI has enough experience on the civil side.

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isthisit (Feb 9, 2018 - 7:47 am)

Probably all of them. You only need a minimum amount of trial experience to be a judge. The rest of what you need you'll learn at the judicial college and on the job.

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trollfeeder (Feb 9, 2018 - 8:20 am)

They all do, which one has connections? That's the person who becomes a Judge.

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 9, 2018 - 4:03 pm)

Not true. The last judge who joined my bench won because of how god damn awful all of the other applicants were.

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tojagornottojag (Feb 10, 2018 - 12:44 am)

Jorgedeclaro, awful in as in old hacks? I'm trying to figure out whether it's better to have a gaudy number of little trials or if you have a shot to get a merit appointment with a smaller number of serious felonies short of homicides (let's say crim sex trials), and a modest amount of experience in other areas. And while I'm asking, among the 3 lawyers in my hypo, does it really matter if any of those fake lawyers got their experience in, say, 10-12 years rather than 15 or 20? Thanks.

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tojagornottojag (Feb 10, 2018 - 12:50 am)

Jorgedeclaro, awful in as in old hacks? I'm trying to figure out whether it's better to have a gaudy number of little trials or if you have a shot to get a merit appointment with a smaller number of serious felonies short of homicides (let's say crim sex trials), and a modest amount of experience in other areas. And while I'm asking, among the 3 lawyers in my hypo, does it really matter if any of those fake lawyers got their experience in, say, 10-12 years rather than 15 or 20? Thanks.

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 10, 2018 - 12:40 pm)

Awful as in five tool terrible candidates.

First, a contract defense attorney who also practices family law. Between 40-50 years old. Saw her in a special proceeding once and concluded if I was ever voluntarily committed I would be better off representing myself. Nice person, but incompetent.

Next, an administration hearing officer (prosecutor). Trifecta of lazy, incompetent and completely unethical. Underrepresented minority and the biggest thing he had going for him would have been most of the legal community didn’t know who he was. Fortunately, he has put his name in for every judgeship in the past 10 years so the appointing authority is well aware of how bad he is.

Third, complete vanilla prosecutor. Uninspiring, no connections, couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.

All things considered, more trials is better if you have a couple to hang your hat on. People’s eyes will glaze over on the details past that. Murder trial, six figure verdict, etc.

If you want to be a judge without donating to politicians, start getting involved in the local legal community. Figure out the biggest civil CLE in town and get on the planning committee for it. Attend your local bar meetings, take an officer position where you meet everyone. Most of all, start telling people you want to be a judge at some point. Get your name in the mix so that when something opens, people ask you if you’re putting your hat in the ring. Don’t be the perennial also-ran who is always on the candidate list though. You have to build the foundation first.

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tojagornottojag (Feb 10, 2018 - 11:24 pm)

I might have to steal "five-tool terrible." Thanks for the helpful response!

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jorgedeclaro (Feb 11, 2018 - 8:23 pm)

Only people who played baseball growing up will understand it.

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onehell (Feb 12, 2018 - 11:19 am)

I agree with those who have said that all are qualified. In terms of "most" qualified, I think you just have to compare the experience with the court's typical docket, but I'm going to assume you mean a state trial court of general jurisdiction.

For those courts, lawyer 1 is the most qualified because felony jury trial experience trumps everything else. That's because civil trials are rare so the court involvement is mostly limited to resolving discovery disputes and motion practice. And the misdemeanor experience, while certainly relevant, is less important than the felonies because in most places, many low-level criminal offenses are heard by lesser "limited jurisdiction" courts. Magistrates, police courts, justices of the peace, etc. Many states don't even require judges in those courts to even have a JD. I see a lot of retired cops on those benches.

But, as others have said, all of them are certainly qualified. So it's going to come down more to popularity (if elected) or connections (if appointed), as well as partisan leanings relative to the orientation of the state as a whole.

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tojagornottojag (Feb 13, 2018 - 9:38 pm)

Onehell, thanks for the opinion. Why do you think felony jury trial experience trumps all? Because that's a feature in every trial court of general jurisdiction?

Also wondering how much it matters if someone relocated and got much of their trial experience in another state, or maybe worked in a national firm with constant travel to jurisdictions nationwide. If someone has good qualifications, how important is it that their experience be from the judicial district or state where they're trying to get appointed?

Thanks again.

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