I am often “told” by prospective clients that they want a certain gender representing him or her in their divorce. While it is certainly up to an individual whom they choose to represent him or her in a divorce action, it is up to attorney to give the appropriate advice. The “best lawyer for your case” is better than a lawyer of a certain gender, religion or race. While there are some judges that have inherent biases, those biases generally relate to facts or situations of a case and not gender, religion or race.
Sometimes a client may want a lawyer of the same gender as he or she, or the same gender as the judge. This is generally a mistake. Although it may be understandable that a woman who is a victim of domestic violence may want a female judge, or a man may want a female lawyer to defend him against allegations of domestic violence, this is not a sound strategy. If a specific gender makes you more comfortable, that is fine, but it is not a sound legal strategy to pick your lawyer based on gender, religion or race alone.
Between our main office in Henderson and our associated offices in near Family Court and Summerlin, Pecos Law Group offers a diverse group of lawyers, including seven male lawyers; four female lawyers. This was not a hiring strategy on our part. We did not hire the best female or male lawyer at any time, we hired the best available lawyer. As a divorce litigant, you are advised to use the same strategy.
There is, however, times where changing judges may offer a strategic advantage. Every party, as a matter of right in most actions, are entitled to change the judge assigned to a case by filing a “peremptory challenge.” It may be filed for any reason, if it is filed within the prescribed time frame. The cost of exercising this right is $450.00.
The reasons why a party, or more likely the attorney, will choose to file a peremptory challenge may vary. An attorney could have a personality conflict with a judge, the judge may have a perceived bias on an important issue in the case, there may be uncertainty as to how a judge may rule on a specific issue of the case, the judge may be new to the bench and his or her positions on certain issues unknown, and, in some cases it may be used solely for the purpose of causing a brief delay in the divorce proceedings.
The Las Vegas Family Law Attorneys at Pecos Law Group have substantial experience with Clark County Family Court judges and know which judges favor specific positions on certain issues. The judge assigned to your case is extremely important and making the right determinate as to whether your peremptory challenge in a case could affect your case for years to come.
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What Just Happened?
You just spent time in Las Vegas family court listening to attorneys discuss intimate details of your life and a judge making decisions about those intimate details. Your head is swimming with legal jargon and orders. Maybe there was some yelling by the attorneys and the judge sounded mad. You may not be sure if what happened was good or bad for you. Maybe your ex’s attorney was loud and interrupted your attorney. You wonder if that means that he “won” and you “lost.” You walk out of the courtroom in a fog and wonder “What just happened?” You turn to your lawyer who says that he is late for a hearing in another department and is gone down the hallway. Now what?
There are a few things to know that can make your experience in court more comfortable. More important, by having an idea of the purpose of each hearing and having a good idea of what to expect before you walk into the courtroom, you will be better prepared to take in what is happening.
First, find out the purpose of the hearing. Call your lawyer the day before the hearing and make sure you understand what will be discussed and what will happen at the hearing. As your attorney what time you should arrive at court, what you should wear and what time he or she will arrive. Be sure to ask what the issues are before the court. No attorney can tell you for sure what will happen in a given hearing, but your attorney can explain to you what the purpose of the hearing is and what she thinks will happen. Make sure and read any pleadings filed specifically for this hearing.
Second, during the hearing pay attention. Sometimes this is difficult to do as attorneys and judges may talk over each other and use words and phrases you do not understand. Recognize that you do not win in court by having the loudest attorney.
Ultimately, what matters most for you to know and understand right after the hearing is the judge’s orders. If the judge orders you to do something, you must follow the order. In most cases, the orders will be put in written form and you will receive a copy from your attorney. This, however, can take some time, so make sure that you follow the judge’s orders even if you do not have the written version in front of you yet.
For instance, if the judge says that he wants you to begin a visitation schedule the following day, you will not have a written order but will need to comply regardless. You do not want to fail to comply with an order and must stand before the judge explaining that you did not know what you were supposed to do. Judges often respond to any excuse like that with: You were in court when I told you to do this, weren’t you?
With all the action in court, it is easy to forget what you are hearing. Feel free to bring a pen and paper and take some notes during the hearing. Just be careful not to get so caught up in taking notes that you forget to pay attention to what you need to hear and understand. If you have specific questions for your attorney, write them down so that you do not forget them.
Finally, if you have any questions regarding what happened in court, make sure and speak to your attorney. Ask your attorney to tell you what happened, what you are required to do, and what your deadline is for doing it. Also, future hearing dates are often set during a hearing. Make sure you know when the next hearing date is. If your attorney is unable to carefully explain in detail what happened at the hearing or answer your questions, call and make an appointment to discuss the details.
Court can be confusing for litigants, and attorneys and judges can forget that. By preparing yourself and asking questions, you can ensure that your case runs smoother for you. In doing so, you may also minimize the conflict between you and your ex.