What Lawyers Need to Know in Presenting Their Case to a Judge, Part 2

By: Ronald Dresnick

Pressure On

There are other key factors to consider that will increase your courtroom effectiveness. Many lawyers decide against traveling to the courthouse to make their arguments. In fact, the Rules of Procedure provide that you can request the court to allow you to present your argument by phone if the hearing will prove to be inconvenient. I only have one rule for you to remember concerning this point: if you want to lose your motion, argue it by phone.

A lawyer’s stock and trade is his or her time. That rule applies evermore so for judges, so remember these few rules. First and foremost, respect the judge’s time. Don’t be late for hearings. Don’t keep the judge or even more importantly, the jury waiting. You’d be amazed at the number of times lawyers have walked into a 30 minute special set hearing five to fifteen minutes late.

Also, do you best to get your documents filed on time. Failure to do so could result in your motion or reply being stricken. And even if not technically stricken, your papers are unlikely to be read by the court before the judge makes her initial consideration. It’s also wise to provide a courtesy copy to the judge even though you have already filed your motions with the clerk. Although some judges prefer not to have paper copies, many still print out a copy to make notes or to have them handy when faced with a few minutes of down time.

Remember, it is all about perspective. Your perspective is standing before the judge. The judge, on the other hand, sits facing you, and what you don’t see is every other lawyer sitting in that courtroom, including the long line of attorneys waiting for you to finish your presentation (argument, rant, etc.). Think about it. The pressure rests on the judge.

I have many more tips to add but have run out of space.

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What Lawyers Need to Know in Presenting Their Case to a Judge


By:  Ronald C. Dresnick

Since leaving the bench one year ago and after nearly two decades sitting as a circuit judge, I am often asked to advise attorneys on practical tips for the preparation and presentation of courtroom arguments. Seasoned lawyers understand that judges have varying perspectives and experiences. The judge is typically focused on resolving the dispute in a fair and effective manner.

As a judge, I was frequently asked about my favored or preferred type of case; the response was easy — “a closed one.” The judge sits as the fact finder and ultimately the decider. And in state court, the judge remains the manager of a ridiculously large number of open cases.

We are fortunate to have a distinguished bench of diligent jurists, many obsessed with reading every footnote on every page that is presented by counsel. Not uncommonly, the judge will have read the motion and already decided the matter before it is even argued. That does not mean she has already made her final decision before the argument, but rather has identified an inclination and likely ruling. The argument on the motion presents the court with a chance to really test its inclination. This underscores my first point: the most pivotal factor in winning is the manner in which your pleading is crafted.

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Accomplished Eleventh Judicial Circuit Justice prepares for active litigation career on the other side of the bench.

MIAMI ronald c. dresnick After nearly 20 years of deciding some of South Florida’s most notorious cases, Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Ronald C. Dresnick left the bench to join the Miami-based law firm of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L.

Throughout his tenure on the bench, Judge Dresnick has heard some of the most significant cases impacting the South Florida judiciary and broader community. These have included the Major League Baseball steroid controversy involving South Florida clinic Biogenesis; litigation against Cuba for acts of terror tied to the Bay of Pigs; and a major wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Miccosukee Tribe.

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