Medina County Courthouse

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Keeping Judicial Support Staff Happy

I used to give a talk once a year to University of Akron Law School students enrolled in a clinic program. The talk was titled "The Care and Feeding of Judges". One of the points that I made was that judges see their support staff every day while they see attorneys much less frequently. Even if you are an attorney whose practice takes you into a courtroom on a daily basis, for example, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to a particular courtroom, you are still seeing that judge much less frequently than his or her support staff.

What this means is that if you are arrogant, mean, or uncivil towards support staff, it is likely that the judge will learn of such behavior. Such behavior could influence how you are treated by that support staff. Such behavior might also affect how a judge handles discretionary matters like a motion for continuance or scheduling around an event on your calendar.

Over the course of the almost 21 years now that I have been a judge, I have had very few attorneys be rude to me either in or out of a courtroom. I have had many more, although certainly a very small minority, be rude to my support staff. Personally I find such behavior toward support staff more aggravating than such behavior toward myself. It strikes me as bullying to treat support staff in a way that you would never treat a judge.

Treat support staff the way you would want to be treated. Practice the Golden Rule: do onto others as you would want to be done to you. It was good advice over 2000 years ago and it is good advice now.

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