The 10 Commandments for a Judge: Then & Now

Judge Edward Devitt was a distinguished federal District Court Judge.  In 1979, he authored his version of the 10 Commandments for a new judge:

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THE NEW JUDGE

1.  Be Kind

2.  Be Patient

3.  Be Dignified

4.  Don’t Take Yourself Too seriously

5.  A Lazy Judge Is a Poor Judge

6.  Don’t Fear Reversal

7.  There Are No Unimportant Cases

8.  Be Prompt

9.  Common Sense

10.  Pray for Divine Guidance

 

Judge Richard Kopf is a senior status federal District Court Judge who is the author of a very good blog called Hercules and the Umpire (which can be found here).  He has a more modern version of the Ten Commandments:

TOP TEN LISTS OF LESSONS TO BE LEARNED BY A YOUNG FEDERAL TRIAL JUDGE REGARDING THE SCHEINDLIN/SECOND CIRCUIT FIASCO

10.  Remember the first law of physics: crap flows downhill.

9.  Even otherwise brilliant and perfectly decent federal Circuit judges can be megalomaniacs.  Far removed from your hearing, lawyers say the same thing about you.  They are indisputably correct.

8.  It’s not your job to save the world.  Do law, leave justice to Clint Eastwood.

7.  A good journalist’s job is to get you to say something you will regret.

6.  If you can’t take a sucker punch, quit.

5.  If you care more about a case than anyone else, ask your Chief to reassign it.

4.  Get mad, but don’t get even.

3.  For good or for ill, one case will define you.  You won’t ever know which one it will be, so stop worrying.

2.  Remember the joy you felt the day you learned that the President of the United States wagered a little of his prestige on you.  Everything that follows is gravy.

1.  Whether it be an accolade or an accusation, you probably don’t deserve it.

P.S.   If you are a young federal trial judge, here is the 11th commandment:  Never rely on advice from an old federal trial judge.

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