August 30, 2012 Articles

Raising Delicate Matters with the Judge in Pending Litigation

A sitting federal judge offers 10 pieces of advice on how to handle unusual circumstances.

By Hon. Marvin Aspen

Communicating with a judge about any aspect of pending litigation is generally strictly limited, other than during a courtroom proceeding or formal motion practice. Nonetheless, there will be times in every lawyer’s career when he or she must raise some uncomfortable or unwelcome subject with a presiding judge to fulfill his or her duties as both a diligent advocate and responsible officer of the court. Often there is no formal procedure for doing so. Here are some suggestions for approaching these often delicate situations. Of course, before implementing any of these suggestions, trial counsel should make certain that local court rules, the individual judge’s published courtroom procedures, and the attorney and judicial codes of ethics applicable in the jurisdiction do not conflict with the judicial communication.

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