Zealous Advocacy, without falling into the trap of incivility
Going to court is not like participating in a tennis match. It's not like hitting a ball back and forth in front of the judge. In fact, bickering in front of judge may lead the judge to direct the parties and their attorneys to wait in the courtroom until later in the day, when others' cases are handled and the judge has time to listen patiently.
I prefer to watch carefully what the judge is focusing on. There is no need to respond in court to every statement or criticism by the other party or attorney -- only those that seem important to the judge. It's very easy for a party to let personal criticism and comments by the other side derail a discussion of what's important. Better to be prepared with facts, documents, and a clear theory of the case -- a truthful story of the progress of the case, the actions of the people involved, and a clear goal for the outcome. In my experience, judges are happy to see attorneys and litigants working diligently to reach agreement on whatever issues can be agreed, and to prepare to present facts, documents, testimony and other evidence on the contested (not-agreed) issues, so that the judge has the tools he or she needs to make a good decision.
Cook County Circuit Court (where I mainly practice in Chicago) has its own rules of 'Civility,' as follows.
- Kevin R. Johnson
Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County: