Saturday, August 16, 2008

DJ's Handbook

I am grateful to Andrew Keogh for the link to this guide for District Judges who sit in the Magistrates' Courts. Some of the content is specific to the professional judiciary, but for the most part it contains lots of common-sense stuff that is very useful to the rest of us. It is better than a lot of the training material that I have seen over the years. It's a big pdf, but well worth dipping in to.
This passage applies just as much to a court chairman as it does to a DJ:-
Owing to the considerable pressure on a district judge to deal with work expeditiously, there can be a temptation to speak first and think afterwards.
Wherever possible, it is helpful to avoid painting oneself into a corner. Rather than making a dogmatic statement (‘This is the position’), invite assistance from the advocate (‘I would be grateful for your assistance in this matter; it seems to me on fi rst consideration that . . ., but I would welcome your thoughts’). Wherever possible use open questions, i.e. questions that do not suggest any particular answer, rather than making a direct statement, until you are absolutely sure.

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