Judges get a bad rap. In every decision a Judge makes, there is a winner and a whiner (sorry, I mean loser). Winners smile contentedly. Losers make a lot of noise. It is never a badly run trial or poorly performing witnesses or just bad facts. It is easier to lay a loss on the Judge – he or she is a bad Judge, a prejudiced Judge, a dumb Judge and/or a Judge who has no business sitting as a Judge. So, the trial Judge takes it on the chin.
There is no doubt that there are Judges who have been appointed for the wrong reasons, usually political, in that they supported the right party at the right time. And there are Judges, thankfully few, who abuse their lofty positions to justify their high opinions of themselves. But, by and large, most of the Judges that I have encountered over the years have been hard working, bright, very patient and honestly trying to do the best job possible under often difficult situations. When a Judge gets a decision wrong, and it happens, I truly believe it is as a result of error as opposed to any agenda.
I have often wondered why men and women choose to become Judges. Many take a cut in pay when they go to the Bench. They may lose some of their best lawyer friends because lawyers and Judges don’t always mix well. For some, it is a desire for recognition from their peers, a trophy of sorts. For others, it’s a true calling, a desire to serve the public in a very important role. Some individuals simply are looking for a change. For most judges, I am sure that it is a combination of these factors and more.
So, the next time you hear a Judge criticized, keep in mind that it is one of the more difficult jobs around. Maybe we should cut these good men and women a break.