I'd venture that raw intelligence is very far from the most important quality in a good judge. I'd put it about sixth, after steadiness, predictability, the ability to listen, compassion (which is not the same as being a soft touch), street smarts. Indeed I'd go the other way--I'd venture that some of the most unsatisfactory judges I/we have ever faced are the ones that are too smart for their own good; who get impatient with fools, who never take the short straight road when the long convoluted path is available. who lose all patience with everything but their own lightning intellect.Wonder if anyone will take this personally. It does bring to mind a time some years ago when I wrote for a snippet for a judges' journal arguing that judges wrote too many opinions. I figured I would annoy people, but no: everyone I saw told me how great it was. I surmise they all assumed I was talking about somebody else. Of course, it is easier to believe that you do not write to much than that you are too smart.
It is also, not incidentally, one reason why I oppose putting young guys on the bench, particularly smart young guys (unisex). They stay around for a while; the learning curve flattens out, they turn into Mickey Mouse in the sorcerer's apprentice and they get weird.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Not Dead Yet: The Professor on the Peril of Smart Judges
Bill Rochelle at Bloomberg, your go-to journalistic source on bankruptcy topics, quotes my other avatar at the end of his September 14 podcast. The topic is "smart judges." Here's a version of my original email to Bill, from which he drew: