As we posted earlier, our own partners Bill Thayer and Scott Staples led an NBI judicial forum discussion with three Clark County Superior Court Judges last Friday, December 4, regarding what judges would like attorneys in the community to know.
Being a young attorney, I was eager to attend to see Bill and Scott in action, and to hear from the judges I might one day try cases in front of: the Honorable Judge Gregory Gonzales, Judge Suzan Clark, and Judge David Gregerson.
Here are some brief observations and takeaways:
- The Clark County Superior Court is in good hands with these judges, as they are clearly knowledgeable, professional, and personable.
- It sounds like very few civil cases are ending up in trial (which is something we always hear about), but the court dockets are seeing many criminal cases go to trial.
- Some attorneys forget they are not permitted to contact the judge directly without copying opposing counsel (referred to as ex parte contact). Generally speaking, according to the judges, it is best to contact the judge's judicial assistant and copy opposing counsel in every instance.
- Many attorneys are forgetting to check the Local Court Rules and it is showing when they present to the court.
- Some under-utilized tactics attorneys may be overlooking:
- Scheduling orders.
- Settlement conferences.
- Requests for admission.
- Partial summary judgment motions.
- Highlighting and marginal notes bringing key aspects clearly to the court's attention.
- Evidence Rule 904 notices.
- Generally, the judges seem to prefer that motions in limine be made 35-to-60 days in advance of trial by the attorneys.
- Technology in the courtroom, when done well and planned out in advance, is highly effective in the judges' estimation.
- Young attorneys, like myself, should make it a priority to go and watch more experienced attorneys in action at the courthouse to learn what is effective advocacy and what is not.
Finally, the judges were highly complimentary of our firm, and particularly partner Scott Edwards for his effective technology-based trial efforts, so that made me personally thankful to be learning from and working with the attorneys here at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples and Edwards PS.