Continuing my occasional series of revisiting posts I’ve done over the last (nearly) five years, I look back to one I did during the first month of blogging.
In a post on September 14, 2007, I looked at an online resource often overlooked — the chambers practices of federal judges which is found on the District of Connecticut court website.
I noted that each described the way they handled certain things and that two of the judges went further by describing how they approached an employment discrimination case. “For employment law practitioners, two of the judge’s chambers practices refer to the judge’s views on discrimination cases and the use or overuse of dispositive motions on such claims.”
As I reviewed those practices again in 2012, another item jumped out at me this week. In an era where civil discourse is a seeming lost art, U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill made a specific reference to the importance of civility in his courtroom. At the very end, the practices state:
At the end of the day, Judge Underhill steps down from the bench and shakes hands with counsel. He finds that this practice promotes civility in the courtroom.
Why should employers care what happens in the courtroom? Because, as much as clients want their lawyers to be bulldogs, the ethical rules and professionalism demand something differently. I talked about that in a January 2008 post as well. Indeed, the uncivil attorney risks being viewed as outcast by judges who, like Judge Underhill, expect the attorneys to behave.
If a handshake can promote greater civility, its time to put your hand out and respect the judicial system.