Judges offer openings, closings at seminar

By Katheryn Hayes Tucker

Attorneys will get the opportunity to see how judges would present a case at an upcoming family law seminar.

About 40 Georgia judges will present opening statements or closing arguments at the Family Law Institute May 26-28 at Amelia Island Plantation.

Each morning of the conference, a panel of 10 to 15 judges will discuss what works and doesn’t work in openings and closings, followed by the judges’ own examples. The names of the judges have not been announced, but the event program is posted on the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia’s website, iclega.org.

“This is double the number of judges that have ever come,” to the event, said Randall M. Kessler of Kessler, Schwarz & Solomiany, one of the organizers and vice chair of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia and chair-elect of the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. Kessler expects at least 400 lawyers to attend.

Kessler said he didn’t want to name the judges ahead of the conference because their plans could be subject to change according to what happens in their courtrooms. But he said at least 40 have committed to take part in the panels.

He said he invited the judges either to present prototype statements and arguments or what-not-to-do performances. “Some who have a good sense of humor might show what not to do,” he said.

Kessler hopes the exchange will increase understanding and ease relationships for lawyers and judges who will meet again in court. “It’s harder to be angry with someone when you’ve broken bread together,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We’re part of the system and we need to understand each other.”

The agenda also includes Patricia E. Apy of Paras, Apy & Reiss in Red Bank, N.J., attorney for David Goldman, the New Jersey father who fought for the return of his son from Brazil, and Chicago Judge Michele F. Lowrance, author of “The Good Karma Divorce.”