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 –  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.

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