Hoping to gain insight into a judge‘s proclivities, preferences, and possible biases, attorneys and self-represented litigants scheduled to appear before a judge often seek out sources of biographical information that discuss the judges formative influences and experiences.
The law library maintains two major sources of judicial biographical information, Daily Journal Judicial Profiles, a compilation of judicial profiles that have appeared in the San Francisco Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and California Courts & Judges, a two-volume judicial directory published by James Publishing.
Daily Journal Judicial Profiles In addition to standard information about education and work history, the judicial profiles published by the Daily Journal frequently feature information about a judge‘s character and personal attributes, demeanor in the courtroom, hobbies and interests, pet peeves, community involvement, high profile cases, and attitude toward pro per litigants. Particularly illuminating are anecdotes from colleagues and the impressions of attorneys who have argued cases before the judge.
The law library maintains a complete collection of profiles for Northern California Superior Court judges, California Appellate and Supreme Court justices, California District Court judges, Ninth Circuit justices, and Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy judges.
California Courts & Judges, James Publishing
Organized alphabetically by last name, California Courts & Judges contains in-depth profiles of California state and federal trial and appellate judges and justices. In constructing the profiles, the authors solicit comments from district attorneys, public defenders, and attorneys who have tried cases before the judge. In the “Attorney’s Comments” section of each profile, the attorneys interviewed offer their perceptions concerning the judge‘s temperament/demeanor, intelligence/legal knowledge, handling of motions and continuances, effectiveness in facilitating settlements, prosecution or defense orientation, and courtroom management style. Profiles of retired judges and justices from California state, federal and bankruptcy courts are also included.
The websites of the California state appellate courts and federal trial and appellate courts contain a wealth of factual information about sitting judges and justices that may be of interest to litigants, including their educational background, previous judicial appointments, professional experience, teaching experience, publications, memberships, and personal information.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of News From the Alameda County Law Library, the quarterly newsletter of the Alameda County Law Library: http://www.acgov.org/law/documents/Library_Newsletter_Winter2010.pdf