How Judges Decide Issues
The following quote impressed me as well-articulated and generally accurate with regard to how judges decide issues:
“Judges’ decisions are a function of what they prefer to do, tempered by what they think they ought to do, but constrained by what they perceive is feasible to do.” – James L. Gibson, Ph.D.
Can it be better stated? What judges “perceive is feasible to do,” however, is where most significant problems arise. There is just too much law for judicial officers or anyone in the legal field to know everything. Hence, the attorney’s role is to be vigilant that the judge is well-briefed on the law and facts of each issue, so that he or she knows what can and cannot be done.
There are many times, too, where the judge will not determine an issue as the client wants, no matter how much the client believes in another outcome and no matter how well each issue has been briefed by the attorney. This simply could be a matter of the judge growing up in a different neighborhood than the client and preferring a different result he or she believes ought to be done. For this reason, having the judicial officer decide an issue can bear more risk than the parties themselves who always have the option to settle the issue in a signed writing if they are willing to compromise.
Judges are either appointed by the Governor or elected by popular vote to fill a designated judicial post.