Q & A WITH JUDGE DAVIDSON
September 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
Chancellor Jim Davidson of Columbus sits in the 14th District (Chickasaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Webster). Here’s a brief interview with the learned judge.
Q: Tell us some of your personal preferences that lawyers from outside your district need to know before they come before you.
We decide temporary issues by affidavits. Don’t file 500 of them however. This defeats the purpose of doing so by affidavits. We find that we hear the same proof on both. The purpose of the temp. is to maintain stability and status quo until the final hearing. 8:05 requires form, tax returns and pay stubs. It is not sufficient to have the client take it lightly. Please agree on as many issues as possible. Stipulations work better than trying to prove something that you may fail to do. Prepare summaries of the assets and prepare your client to testify about them. 500 exhibits requires a lot of time to assimilate and organize and we might , I say might, not have 3 days to wade through it. Don’t be baited into arguing for two hours about whether the other party said a curse word to your client. This is especially true if it is a custody case. Keep your eye on the ball!
Q: What are the three attributes that you would consider to set the good lawyers apart from the bad ones?
a. Organized and efficient b. Respect to the Court and the other parties and their attorney c. Brevity but with effect. Don’t belabor the small stuff.
Q: What is the main thing lawyers should know to avoid doing in your court room during a trial?
Never misrepresent the facts or the law, no matter how much it may hurt. This will come back in a big way to haunt you. Never argue with the Court even if you are right. This is why we have motions to reconsider and appeals. Don’t speak at the same time as the judge or the other lawyer. Most judges wish to keep their court reporters happy and they cannot take down two or three conversations at the same time. In spite of what many people think, the practice of law is a noble profession. That nobility can be destroyed by the actions of a few. Don’t lower yourself in any way, win or lose.
Q: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy most everything about my job. I especially enjoy adoptions because I am playing a big role in the change in that child’s life. I sometimes tear up and whenever possible we make a picture and give them a hug.
Q: What part of your job do you enjoy the least?
I struggle most with custody. Most of the time the reason we are there is that both parents want the child or children. someone is going to be disappointed. Adults can cope, but what if I make the wrong decision and that child’s life is change dramatically merely because of me. This is why they pay us the big bucks, I guess.
Q: Tell us a funny story about something that happened in your court room.
Law provides so many funny stories. It is truly the most colorful profession-this is illustrated by the huge number of lawyer jokes. Do you know one of the two CPA jokes-I didn’t think so! I was in a custody trial and one of the lawyers discovered that the mother may have been in the back of the house with her boyfriend while the children were in the front. He asked her, ” So while you were in the back doing Smoochy, smoochy, hoochy coochy (sp) the children were 20 feet away.” He had a straight face, but nobody else did.
Q: Who do you model yourself after as a judge?
I think Judge [John Clark] Love is probably the judge I would most emulate. He was thorough, fair and knowledgeable. Early in my career I was called out in the Courtroom by a judge for a very minor thing. He did this to most of the young lawyers. I vowed that if I was ever in that position, I would never embarass a lawyer in the courtroom. The courtroom is a place where people should expect not only justice but to be able to be there without fear or intimidation.