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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 6, 201412:00 PM EST

Veteran judges offer advice for new colleague

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Circuit Judge Tyrie W. Boyer

How long have you been a judge?: 14 years

What was the most difficult part for you about transitioning as a practicing attorney to a judge? Lawyers are advocates and may have tunnel vision. Judges must keep an open mind until all sides are heard. Then a judge must rule with the law and not with the heart.

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? Remember that the people who are before you may be nervous – even the lawyers. Be patient with everybody.

County Court Judge Gary Flower

How long have you been a judge? Since January 2000

What was the most difficult part for you about transitioning as a practicing attorney to a judge? Not spending as much time with my lawyer friends.

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? Start on time, be consistent, be creative within the bounds of discretion, rule promptly.

County Court Judge Charles Cofer

How long have you been a judge?: 16-plus years

What was the most difficult part for you about transitioning as a practicing attorney to a judge? One of the most difficult things was the transition from being surrounded by all of my colleagues, and getting to know my new colleagues on the bench. A bit of separation anxiety.

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? Take time to prepare for your hearings before they begin — identify the issues that are likely to be heard and discussed — if you aren’t familiar with the issues to be heard, do some research so that the parties can have an effective hearing. If you don’t know much about an issue, invite the parties to educate you on the matter rather than trying to finesse your way through it.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper

How long have you been a judge? I started as county judge in January 1997 and circuit judge in January 2006

What was the most difficult part for you about transitioning as a practicing attorney to a judge? I really had no difficulty transitioning. My office as an assistant state attorney was also in the courthouse, so all I had to do was move to a different floor, and our bench here is so welcoming and collegial, there was always someone ready to help a new judge, and it is still that

way.

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? I would encourage any new judge to take advantage of the vast judicial experience surrounding you ... ask questions, observe and spend time with as many different judges as possible as you develop your own judicial style.

Judge of Compensation Claims Ray Holley

How long have you been a judge? I was appointed a judge of compensation claims in December of 2010.

What was the most difficult part for you about transitioning as a practicing attorney to a judge? When I received the call from the governor’s office regarding my appointment, I was told that I had to immediately cease practicing law. It was difficult for me to just “let go” of my cases. I also disliked telling my clients that I could no longer provide them legal advice.

Although I spent a considerable amount of time briefing my replacement, I wanted to do more to assist during the transition period.

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? Judges are role models and leaders of our profession. They set the tone for professionalism through their actions and words toward attorneys, their clients, and even their support staff.

Thus, professionalism, civility and patience must start from the bench. I also firmly believe that judges have a critical responsibility to participate in efforts and organizations that strive to improve and enhance the profession and community.

I would urge judges to get involved where they are permitted to do so. My final advice is to keep your sense of humor and remember you were also an attorney once.

Chief Circuit Judge Don Moran

How long have you been a judge? Since 1977

What’s the best advice you have for a new judge? Strive to have a good demeanor and temperament. It’s sometimes very difficult in an adversarial system to control the litigants and the courtroom itself. But it’s very, very important to do that.

If one does it, the trial goes more smoothly. It is incumbent upon the judge to make sure you do that. I can’t emphasize that enough. I’ve seen judges allow lawyers, rather than rein them in at an appropriate time, to let it go on and on.

Then it gets difficult to bring it back to a professional level. A weak judge can allow it to get out of hand. That’s why a judge is so important. Not to be a part of the game, but to be the referee.

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