By Attorney Howard Iken: There are many people that just seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot with the judge. It would be the judge got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning and immediately hated your face. You may have been caught in a lie in court. Or a judge may have had a day of annoying cases that seemed exactly like your case. Whatever the reason, if the judge does not like you – you probably are not destined for an excellent outcome (sarcasm intended).
Can you change judges?
The short answer: probably not. Judges are assigned to cases at random in an effort to preserve integrity in the court system. There is a pretty good reason for the process. It keeps people from gaming the system. Following up on that concept is the lack of ability to change judges. You must live with the judge once your judge is assigned. That could be for forever, or at least a really long time. Every case is assigned to a section. Every judge presides over a section. And if the section coincides with the case – you will be seeing a lot of that judge. The bottom line: you cannot normally change your judge.
Ways to change your judge
Did I just contradict myself?? Sounds like I just got through saying you cannot change your judge – but the header of this paragraph promises ways to change your judge. There are a couple very limited, very rare ways to change your judge. One of them is if the other party picked the wrong court location to file the case. There are ground rules where someone must file their case. If those ground rules are ignored there is a procedure to have the location changed. That will also change your judge. The ground rules are complex and involve some technical rules. Ask your attorney.
The other possible way to change your judge is to file a Motion to Recuse. That is a procedure where you believe the judge is biased and cannot possibly rule fairly in your case. Don’t take that procedure lightly because it has potential to fail and also the potential to insult the judge. Again, ask your attorney.
Finally, you can change judges by simply having your case survive a really long time. Many jurisdictions regularly rotate judges between various sections. If your case is alive long enough – your judge may rotate out before the end. Whichever judge inherits your section becomes your new judge.
OK – You Are Stuck. Now What?
You can always become an expert in sucking up. Unfortunately that is not frequently effective in court. That leaves some time-tested techniques. The technique you must use involves some pretty basic things.
Try the following:
1. Dress nice for court
2. Don’t arrive to court with your hair sideways
3. Speak calm and respectfully
4. Don’t cry in court
5. Don’t lie, and do not file anything that contains a lie.
6. Consider getting a different attorney if the judge seems to dislike yours
7. Ignore line 6 if you already have us as your attorney
Since you are already in a pretty bad way, this very simple list has absolutely no down side. There is really nothing to do but follow the basics, stay the course, and hope for the best. Good luck in your case. And let us know if you need help with instruction number 6.