No – you can’t read the Judge’s mind; but I can.
Okay. Not really. But, there are clues which are surprisingly reliable.
Picture this. You and your ex-wife have been fighting about custody, visitation, and money. You are barely making ends meet, and she keeps bringing you to court (making you pay your lawyer more money) to look for more child support. Meanwhile, she threatens to interfere with the small amount of time you already have with your children.
Your lawyer assures you that she cannot use visitation as leverage to get more money from you. Your ex assures you that she will make your life hell, and that you will not see your children during your regular weekends if you do not cough up more money.
You are sitting in the courtroom at a conference table facing the judge. The judge wears a long black robe. He sits at a high bench with court officers and clerks on either side of him. The entire courtroom is silent at his command. He is an intimidating figure. He can order to you to go to jail if you do not pay child support. He can order an increase in your payments or a decrease in your visitation. He holds the cards to your future. Next to you your lawyer is standing in her place. Her eyes are staring straight ahead, watching every move the Judge makes.
At a separate conference table across the courtroom your ex-wife sits confidently next to her lawyer. Your ex-wife grins from ear to ear convinced she has told the judge everything he needs to hear.
You have both testified. You have each been cross-examined. Your ex-wife seems to have told much more of her story (most of it lies) than you told of yours. You write a note and slide it to your lawyer. It says, “I didn’t get my turn!”
Your lawyer glances at you, pushes the paper back & half smiles. You are about to stand up and yell “objection!” yourself, not knowing what it means or what effect it will have.
And then the judge makes his ruling. He sits at his bench in his robe and denies your ex-wife’s application for increased child support. He increases your visitation to add the weeknight you had been asking for. And he rules that your ex-wife is required to pay the fees for your attorney as well as her own.
You wait until everyone has left the courtroom, and finally turn to your lawyer asking, “Can you read the Judge’s mind? how did you know?!”
One of the tell-tale signs that a judge is inclined to rule in your favor is that he seems to be exceedingly lenient with the other party. When a judge knows that he is about to rule against someone he tends to start letting that party build as much of a record as possible – enter every allegation, witness and piece of evidence they want.
That way, when your ex-wife is angry about the Judge’s ruling, she cannot say it because the judge did not hear her case. The judge heard her WHOLE case and ruled against her anyway.
Sometimes when a hearing seems to be its most bleak – the judge won’t listen to anything I am saying! – it is because he already agrees with you.
What We Love – In my 19 years of practicing family law I am very frequently impressed by the Judges’ ability to see right through to the truth of a matter.