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Best way to treat the tribunal adjudicating your clients’ rights? – Your thoughts…..

Over the last 15 years of practice, I have developed my own views about how to treat the tribunal – court, administrative agency, UI appeals division, etc – that is adjudicating my own clients’ cases.   My approach is to save procedural grievances either for appeal, motions for rehearing or, in extremis, the disciplinary authorities governing the tribunal.  It is an admittedly conservative approach, designed to avoid causing offense to the people who control my clients’ freedom, property and good name – such as for example a law license, which involves the current or potential freedom, property and good name of an attorney or attorney aspirant.

Certainly I have encountered a few judges (including administrative judges and UI Hearing Examiners) who seemed at moments unprofessional, unpleasant and lacking in judicial temperament, or otherwise seemed biased or otherwise unreasonable.  Every litigator has such experiences.  But they have been a small fraction of the set over the last nearly two decades; perhaps due to the minimal role of elections in judicial selection or the requirement that judges must be licensed to practice law, the bench is better here than for example in Pennsylvania, where judicial corruption seems to be a constant theme in the news.

If I did have a problem with a judge, I would address the issue as noted above.  Perhaps I would discuss the issue with my closest confidants or, if the judge had an “alter ego” designee with the local Bar association, contact the “alter ego.”  This is my approach.

Prominent Florida criminal defense and lawyer discipline attorney Brian Tannebaum has written a post about his practice before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.  I do not know Mr. Tannebaum personally, but I have to conclude that at least one of two things is true: either his philosophy of practice is different from mine (likely), or Florida legal culture is very, very different from Maryland legal culture (I am reliably informed that this is true.)

Read the post “Blogging The Florida Board Of Bar Examiners Hearings: Now I’m Confused” and let me know your thoughts.  Maybe Tannebaum’s way is better than mine; he does Bar admission litigation and I do not, so perhaps his approach is better founded than mine.   What do you think?


  1. Brian Tannebaum

    I’ll give you my thoughts, Bruce.

    When I have a problem with a judge, I contact them personally. If I had a problem with the culture of the “bench” I may write about it. There are things that cannot be appealed or handled thought motion, such as certain behaviors of those before whom we practice. The fact that a judge or hearing officer is “condescending,” or makes the client believe that nothing they say is truthful, is generally not appealable.

    In other instances, like the Board of Bar Examiners, where I have had many private conversations with leadership, it is difficult to do anything else but write about it, as I do. The Board is made up of many people – Board Members, and Emeritus Members. Some are brand new, others have years of experience. Those that participate in the type of behavior I write about, know it. My goal is to let others know it happens. The fact that they may see it (and I have been told that members of the board read my blog) is ok with me. Maybe it will cause them to change their behavior. As there are a minimum of 3 people on each panel, I’m not worried that one member will take out their anger towards me on my client. I’ve written for several years about the Board, their conduct, and their rulings, and have received no backlash. I have though, received much positive feedback, from members of the board.

  2. Bruce Godfrey

    Your experience exceeds mine in such matters, Brian, and so it deserves respect. My best to your practice.

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