Tuesday, May 25, 2004
You know, Your Honor, when you are trying to work with lawyers to promote the settlement of a matter, it is not helpful when you tell one of the lawyers in caucus that you are going to make an adverse ruling on an issue in the case. The message that this sends is not the message you think you are sending. It is possible that you think you are being helpful, by focusing counsel's attention on a possible weakness in his case, but what you are really saying is, "I am an asshole. I will bully you, and I am indifferent to my role as a neutral presiding over this matter." It surprises me when this happens, and it happens quite a bit. I understand that you have a crowded docket, and that you pride yourself on being able to move your calendar, but you will not move me by telling me that you are prepared to create an appellate issue if my client refuses to evaluate her case the way you do. What you are actually doing is encouraging the parties to take a shot, and see what a jury will do. We already know, now, what you are going to do: you are going to screw up. It will cost us time, and it may cost us money, but you have taken the uncertainty out of the process, because now we know that if the case goes forward, and you do as you promise, we will all be coming back to do it again.