On Friday, I had the privilege of sitting in on a Judicial Law Clerk Writing Seminar. The seminar was sponsored by the Bench and Bar Liaison Committee of the Mississippi Bar, of which I am a member. I played a small role in organizing the seminar. The speakers were excellent; they included Judges Dan Jordan, Leslie Southwick, Keith Ball, Ed Patten, Mike Taylor, Andy Howorth, and Jerry Mason. Roy Campbell offered the lawyer’s perspective. I thought this was an allstar cast.
The statement that got my attention was from Circuit Judge Mike Taylor: “Why is it that the appellate court will accept the ultimate decision of twelve random strangers, without criticism, and yet require a “learned” and trained judge to write a detailed opinion that explains his or her decision? Then, the appellate judges will reverse and remand the “learned” judge’s opinion because of one short phrase in a forty page opinion.”
Then, all the judges looked at me. Oh well.