Friday Funny

A man had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it.  Then he got back in the car to wait.  A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he went back and asked the fellow what the problem was.  The man  replied, “I got a flat tahr.”

The passerby asked, “But what’s with the flowers?”

The man responded, “When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither.”

Thank you Donna Jill Johnson

Questions with the Judge – Andy Howorth, Circuit Judge

Circuit Judge Andy Howorth
Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall Tippah & Union Counties
3rd Circuit District

Judge Howorth earned a B.B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Mississippi. Judge Howorth was initially appointed, and he was elected in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

1. What do you like most and least about being a judge?

Without question, the best single thing that my job allows is the privilege of also serving as a drug court judge. It’s a life changer for the participants and has been for me too.

The thing I dislike the most is that the position of judge has permanently altered some friendships that I had with many lawyers before becoming a judge. The job can be quite lonely at times.

2. Identify one judge, living or dead, whom you admire the most and explain why?

Probably Henry Lackey. Anybody who knows his story would know why. Also Rhesa H. Barksdale. Although we are related by marriage, I can still pick him. At his core, he is very modest about his many accomplishments, not the least of which includes heroic military service

3. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to improve their writing?

It is always preferable to be concise, which translates to “as brief as possible in making an effective argument”. Don’t labor over legal arguments on things like the legal burden or the standard of review, etc. The judge already knows those things and doesn’t want to read about them. Keep your separate arguments separate in your writings. Don’t mix them together.

4. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to present an effective case in your court?

If your case has a theme, stick with your theme. Be familiar with the Uniform Rules of Circuit and County Court and follow them, particularly as relates to jury instructions (timely filing, numbering, presentation of authorities, etc.). Be on time.

5. If you could change any law or rule, what would it be?

I would create a procedure for conducting trials before “professional” jurors who have been vetted through some process and eliminate the current system.

Questions with a Judge – Larry Primeaux, Chancellor

Chancery Judge Larry Primeaux
Clarke & Lauderdale Counties
12th Chancery District

Judge Primeaux earned a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Mississippi. Judge Primeaux was elected in 2006, and he was elected again unopposed in 2010 and 2014. Judge Primeaux has become the voice of chancery court with his blog – The Better Chancery Practice Blog – https://chancery12.wordpress.com.  If you practice in Chancery Court, you need to read Judge Primeaux’s blog every day.  It would also be wise to start any research on chancery court procedural issue in the blog’s archives.

1. What do you like most and least about being a judge?

Most: helping young lawyers improve their practice, and, for the ones who actually try to improve, watching them develop into good lawyers.

Least: even for an introvert like me, the isolation of being a judge can be difficult. I miss the hunting and fishing trips with lawyers and the easy comraderie. I have to look to others to fill those roles. One advantage though, is that lawyers listen to what I have to say and laugh at my jokes now.

2. Identify one judge, living or dead, whom you admire the most and explain why?

Chancellor Ed Cortright of Yazoo City. He was a classic chancellor: wise, judicious, learned, studious, patient (until stretched beyond his limit), and knowledgeable of the law. He understood the role of a chancellor. He had a sense of humor, and was always a gentleman.

I would have to add John Clark Love of Kosciusko as an Honorable Mention. He demanded precision of the lawyers who came before him, and I am sure many of us who fell short of his standards and heard from him about it cussed him under our breath. But looking back on it, his refusal to accept mediocrity made us better advocates.

3. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to improve their writing?

a. Be clear. b. Be clear. c. Be clear.

4. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to present an effective case in your court?

a. Get to the point of your case. Then sit down and hush. Prove the applicable factors, get the necessary exhibits into evidence, then sit down and hush.

b. Be honest and candid.

c. Prepare. Know the applicable law, have your proof ready to go, and make sure your witnesses are prepared.

5. If you could change any law or rule, what would it be?

I know this sounds like crazy talk, but I would do away with the hearsay rule except in jury trials. In a bench trial, the fact that evidence is hearsay should go to its weight, not its admissibility. A judge in a bench trial should be able to factor in and discount that testimony is hearsay.

I would also do away with the so-called family-use doctrine in equitable distribution.

Questions with a Judge — David Strong, Circuit Judge

I thought I would use this blog to provide some helpful information from other judges.  Today, I start what I hope will be a regular series of questions with a judge.  Today, my first victim – I mean – guest.

Circuit Judge David Strong
Lincoln, Pike & Walthall Counties
14th Circuit District

Judge Strong earned a B.A. from Millsaps College and a J.D. from the University of Mississippi. Judge Strong was elected unopposed in 2010 and 2014.

1. What do you like most and least about being a judge?

It is hard to say what I like most about my job. I suppose it is the friendships you develop with others in the profession. These are friendships you never would have made were you not a member of the judiciary. Ironically, what I like least is the isolation from the local bar.

2. Identify one judge, living or dead, whom you admire the most and explain why?

I admire Judge Charles Pickering. He presided over the first trial in which I participated. I was extremely nervous and he was very patient and understanding. He also scared the living hell out of me. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for former Chancellors Donald Patterson and R.B. Reeves. These gentlemen served in the districts in which I practiced and were extremely kind to a young lawyer who had little idea what he was doing.

3. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to improve their writing?

4. What three suggestions would you give to a lawyer about how to present an effective case in your court?

Brevity, clarity and candor are the three virtues which answer both of these questions. If you can say it in 4 words don’t use 8. If you have a valid argument don’t hide it by raising other issues which may be irrelevant or frivolous. I think you gain a certain amount of trust from the judiciary when you are honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your case or argument.

5. If you could change any law or rule, what would it be?

Conspiracy to commit a crime should never carry more time than the crime itself.

Thank you Judge Strong.

 

My condolences to the family of Tom Freeland

I was saddened by the news of the death of Tom Freeland.  I only knew Tom through his blogging and his appellate work.  I found him to be an interesting advocate and an excellent writer.  I will miss him.  My sympathy to his family.

Last month, I met Tom on the Square in Oxford, and he invited me to his office.  Unfortunately for me, I did not find the time to stop by and visit.  I wish I had.

Thank you Tom for your hard work and diligent efforts.  You will be missed.

Legal Writing Suggestions – No. 4

Get a Coach. Tiger Woods has a coach (well sort of). John Grisham has an editor. Lawyers are professional writers. All professional writers use editors. You can hire a college or high school English teacher. You can attend writing seminars or take a writing course at a local college.

Ask for help. The reason to edit is to turn bad writing into good writing. At worst, you can turn bad writing into not as bad writing. Editors can also turn good writing into great writing. Accept all criticism.