Q & A WITH JUDGE FENWICK
September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Chancellor Edward Fenwick of Kosciusko is one of two chancery judges who preside in the Sixth District (Attala, Carrol, Choctaw, Kemper, Neshoba and Winston). Here is our interview with him.
Q: Tell us some of your personal preferences that lawyers from outside your district need to know before they come before you.
A: From the calls I get on procedural matters, most involve the handling of a few routine matters. For example, in ID divorces where there are children, we require the custodial parent to be present for the hearing, and ask the jurisdictional questions as well as a few questions about how the visitation is working. Sometimes there are also questions about property division if it is not clear or looks problematical. We also allow wills to be admitted to probate before the clerk so long as the named fiduciary is beingappointed and bond was waived.
Q: What are three attributes that you would consider to set the good lawyers apart from the bad ones?
A: 1. A good working knowlege of the law that applies in their case. As contrasted to:”You’re the judge–you can do whatever you want to.” A modicum of law is helpful. 2. Knowledge of the file contents. As contrasted to: “File…what file…the clerk should have the file, right?” 3. Cool deliberateness under pressure. As contrasted to: “Let’s take this outside and settle it.”
As a practitioner I did not always have an adequate grasp of the law in my case. More times than I care to remember, my lack of familiarity with my case file left me with egg on my face. I also lost my temper once or twice which was less than helpful. Now that I think about it, these three attributes would stand in good stead for both the bench and the bar. I’ll try to do better.
Q: What is the main thing lawyers should know to avoid doing in your courtroom.
A: I am by nature an easy going person. In the courtroom this can be an asset at times; but, it can also be something of a handicap at times. Lawyers should keep the conversation at counsel’s table to a minimum, and hold the volume down so that my hearing aids do not pick up on what you are saying. The hallway, on the other hand, is an excellent place to talk.
Q: Share your innermost thought and feelings about MRCP 81.
A: This one used to give me fits. Over time I think I have finally gotten used to it though. I have to say that I agree with Judge David Clark that the best rule would be to have all process returnable to a date certain.
Q: Tell us your favorite court room movie.
A: My favorite court room movie. Breaker Morant is about a case where the fix was in and the defense attorney was picked to be a potted plant in the courtroom and was supposed to lose. He ends up doing a great job. Judgment at Nuremburg is an old classic. I saw this one again recently. It illustrates powerfully the importance of an independent judiciary.