Practical Tips for Judges

By Rodgers, Frederic | Judicature, March/April 2009 | Go to article overview

Practical Tips for Judges

Rodgers, Frederic, Judicature

Practical tips for judges Wearing the Robe: The Art and Responsibilities of Judging in Today's Courts, by James P. Gray. Square One Publishers, Inc. 326 pages. 2009. $28.95 ($19.95 paper).

At its February 2009 meeting in Boston the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates approved Resolution No. 113. As it did so, the House endorsed the creation of a "voluntary preselection/election program" for lawyers interested in serving as judges. The idea behind this program is to encourage local bar associations and the highest courts of the states to cooperate in providing training to give judicial aspirants a better appreciation of the role of the judiciary and assist them in making an informed decision about whether they ought to pursue a career on the bench. Any state that decides to sponsor prejudicial education under this newly created policy should consider assigning Judge James Gray's new book as mandatory reading.

Wearing the Robe will appeal primarily to an aspirant for a judgeship, although in a cover note the author promotes it both for sitting judges and those considering applying for the bench. Incumbents with limited experience in a particular area of law or judicial ethics may find portions of the book helpful, and an experienced reader will skip around the chapter headings. The book has a subtitle of "The Art and Responsibilities of Judging in Today's Courts," and a promotion line of "A Guide to the Practices and Principles of a Judge." The book will fulfill most readers' expectations and the author's promise.

Early on, Gray sums up his project:

Part I [entitled "Getting to Know a Judge's World"] is a comprehensive discussion of judicial 'calendars' or assignments... including Criminal trials and sentencing, Civil, Juvenile, Family, Probate, Mental Health, and Adoptions. [It] offers a wealth of information about these judicial roles, and it also gives me the opportunity to offer my professional advice and opinions along the way.

Part I does fulfill this promise. Its chapters address (1) criminal felony, misdemeanor, and traffic cases, with tips on how to sentence; (2) civil cases involving large, medium, and small claims; (3) "relationship cases" in juvenile dependency, delinquency, and family law, divorce, and child custody cases; and (4) mental health, adoptions, and court administration for a chief judge in a multijudge court. The substantive areas of law are addressed comprehensively, laced with tips and short-cuts, and are followed by two more chapters: one on how to conduct a trial from early motions to post trial matters, including assessing costs at trial's end; and another on judicial involvement in settlement negotiations in civil cases and, where permitted, in criminal sentencing.

Practical tips

Gray has served as a California municipal and superior court judge since 1983, and during his two dozen years on the bench (with two breaks in tenure to run for political office) he has filled all the assignments that are available; those various assignments supply the chapter headings. He is a good reporter of his experiences, and in his survey he offers a number of useful ideas relating to each calendar. His tips are practical for the most part, with a few digressions into the author's personal philosophy.

Judge Gray, a one-time Libertarian Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, reveals that in civil cases when he encounters plaintiffs who blame others for their problems, he will look them "squarely in the eye and remind them as adults, they are responsible for themselves and their actions, and they should pay their own way and stop making excuses... and get over whatever the problem is and get on with their lives." This may not be every judge's idea on how to use the power of judicial speech to heal, restore, or correct. However, most of Judge Gray's suggestions are less controversial and are based on practices that have proved workable during his time as ajudge. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Practical Tips for Judges


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.