June 27, 2018 — Six veteran family law judges shared their thoughts on courtroom dos and don'ts with family law attorneys last week at the "Be an Effective and Respected Family Law Attorney (Private or Appointed: A Judicial Perspective)" workshop in Krost Hall at the University of Houston Law Center.
Topics discussed included signatures, honesty, default judgements, authentication and hearsay, return of services, professionalism, adoptions, subpoenas and the art of advocacy and persuasion.
Speakers included state District Judge Roy L. Moore, Associate Judge James Cooper, State District Judge Judy Warne '83, State District Judge David Farr and Associate Judge Eileen Gaffney '92 and Associate Judge Deborah Patterson.
Gaffney provided attorneys with tips involving evidence and subpoenas that are sometimes overlooked.
"Best interest does not trump the Family Code, the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or the Texas Rules of Evidence," she said. "Make sure you come down with your evidence to provoke your case. If you're the individual that doesn't have it, subpoena the other side to bring it. You have a right to do that. Just serve them with it. Realize what we need and read the codes."
Farr discussed the difference between various rules attorneys have had trouble deciphering in the past like the difference between authentication and hearsay.
Moore and Cooper stressed the importance of professionalism and how it impacts one side of the case.
"I know it sounds really simple to be professional, but on the daily basis a lawyer does something and Judge Cooper and I go in the back and think 'I can't believe they did that.' When you're in court, you are doing your job. Raising your voice and yelling, all that says to us is that you have not prepared and you have a weak case."
"It's not always the things that you say, sometimes it's just the way you carry yourself," Cooper added.
The workshop concluded with a short question and answer session from the audience. Attendees received three hours of Texas CLE credit, including two hours of ethics.