Chapter 60 – What We Want From Judges

We are all in one way or another consumers of public services, Accessing judicial review of a matter such as through a lawsuit is cheap, when you represent yourself. The cost of court is very cheap by design. Our judges have risen from the ranks of other practicing attorneys and by and large have a calling for this sacred role in our society of laws. And we believe fundamentally that the “First Duty of Society is Justice.” We can’t accomplish justice unless access is reasonably priced.

Representation is not reasonably priced. In the not so distant past it was half the price it is today. Why? There are too many lawyers, a topic of a different blog. But basically in the last 25 years the number of attorneys have tripled in America and that is even worse in Oregon. Some 25 years ago we had about 3,000 attorneys and today have about 14,000. Law firm admissions are down substantially because 50% of law school graduates can’t find a job as a lawyer.

As a result of the increase in lawyers, a portion of the lawsuit event has increased substantially. A material part of a lawsuit is motion practice, generally ad broadly defined as motion to dismiss a lawsuit or to limit its reach as to both claims and discovery. By comparison, discovery is relatively cheap. And so what we see is an explosion in motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment and it costs a ton.

The primary reasons we have some many dismissal motions is that we have for the last ten years at least been in a time when there’s just not enough work for all these lawyers and the way this gap is made up is through a robust motion practice. The lion share of lawsuits are either fraudulent as to the stated facts and damages. Yet, it takes a ton of time to get rid of them.

So we get to what do we want from our Judges. Too little and we bitch about it. Too much and we bitch about it. It’s a fine line in a role that requires a fair degree of sophistication by Judges to maintain a respected reputation.

I want a judge to not just sit back a referee the evidence and presentation by the Plaintiff and Defendants. Rather I want a Judge who is actively engaged in evaluating the evidence, asking questions of the witnesses and holding the attorneys accountable for truth. This is a decidedly more difficult role in a jury trial then a bench trial. In a bench trial the Judge can let you have it and should.

We want Judges to protect the moral and ethical values of our society. Each individual has a unique value directive but as a society we incorporate values into our legal system in the form of laws. And so we want Judges to maintain the laws of our society recognizing that judging is not always a question of  black and white. We are much more a society of grey.

One of the things I liked about Judge Jones was his focus on evidence, meaning he wanted to get to the crux of a matter and get it decided. I also appreciated that he knew many of these lawsuits are being brought by attorneys for their fees as opposed to any really damage to a Plaintiff. Judge Jones sentenced based a combination of moral and our societal laws. The attached article is about one of his sentences of a criminal child pornographer, basically giving the person 50 years in prison for his heinous crimes. Bravo Judge Jones.Portland judge tells pornographer that his _acts are unforgivable_ _ OregonLive

We want our Judges to do their jobs, to fulfill their roles, for the betterment of society. But we do not want them to reach beyond the case over which they have jurisdiction and interfere with the lives of those that have become before them or could come before them. We don’t want Judges to be or see themselves as demi-gods We don’t want is a Judge who takes a small amount of misinformation, substantiated or unsubstantiated, about a person, and makes a commitment to a lifetime indictment of that person, to interfere with that persons life and economic success just because he can.

Most Judges respect the limits of their duties and roles. Some do not. The fact that attorneys repeated try to attack a persons character, even more than they attack the facts, not only suggests but actively confirms that Judges are receiving this misinformation and acting on it. That’s not what I want in a Judge.

I was on a scheduling conference call on the Defamation lawsuit this week. The opening statement by opposing counsel was to comment on the fact that he had been sued and the Oregon State Bar has been sued by me, Tim Rote, in County Court. The Judge said, ” I don’t care about that case. I care about this case. How much time do you need to reply to motions to dismiss filed by Mr. Rote.” And a decision was made. I appreciated that comment. Then the Judge told me he didn’t want me to file any more motions. I appreciated that. What I didn’t appreciate was that opposing counsel has now been given two 30 day extensions to file a reply (3 times the normal amount of time) and is only giving me one week to Respond. He may have his reasons. I don’t understand them now, but do have faith in his fairness, at least at this time.

In 2001 I contacted Judge Jones after a case, not about the case itself as much about his ongoing influence with the other side while we tried to settle out the unsecured debt. A few weeks before the letter I had for the first time seen Judge Jones at my church. The Judge had a hearing in his Chambers, at which time he referenced the letter I sent and recused himself from the case. He also took the time to yell and carry on and convey that he utter contempt for me and also called me a hypocrite. I found the contempt over the top. Judge Jones is free to yell at me at any time, now or in the future. If he asked me to come down now so he could yell at me, I’d be happy to do so. But to have so much disdain for someone over a letter, well that’s more than a bit over the top. And to call me a hypocrite suggests he had reached a conclusion about me as the owner of a company under attack by a person who stole my mail, acted on it, caused us some legal trouble and ultimately sued us because he was fired. How does that make me a hypocrite? Over the last 15 years that hearing and recusal has been referenced by every attorney seeking something from one of my companies, recognizing their cases were meritless. It’s in lawsuits under way even now.

And Marshall asked Crow to do it. And he did.

Lawsuits should stand on their own facts. A lifetime of unfair accusations, targeting and influence is not just unethical. It’s not just immoral. If taken too far it’s a crime.

Until next time,

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