By Julie Chambers, Chambers Law Office LLC
It is sometimes said that that a good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge. And while it may be meant as a joke, knowing your audience (and the court) can be helpful in your practice. Feeling comfortable in court can help you provide better advocacy for your client and getting to know your local judges can help improve your practice. This year, we are providing our section members with information about judicial officers that we hope will both encourage positive bench/bar relationships and help us all serve our clients better. This is the third installment in the Solo/Small Firm Practice Section's "Getting to Know Your Judicial Officers" series.
Judge Amy Jones currently sits in Marion County Superior Court 8. Prior to her election, she was practicing as a solo attorney and, as such, understands the nature of the practice and the conflicts solos and small firm attorneys encounter day to day. We gave her a variety of questions, and she was gracious enough to give us some answers to share with our members. Check out our Q+A to get to know more about Judge Jones!
Q: What do you look forward to most about the upcoming year, and specifically with regard to Court 8?
Marion Superior Court 8 is a misdemeanor court, and every year we get a new group of prosecutor and public defender interns and recent law school graduates who are preparing for the bar exam. As a law student, I worked as a public defender intern at the Washtenaw County Public Defender Agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and as an intern for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office while preparing for the bar exam. I appreciated every opportunity I was afforded during that time in my career. As a judge, it’s exciting to work with those individuals at an early stage of their careers.
Q: Anything that you want practitioners to know about how you run your court? Any new changes that are you implementing that might be helpful for attorneys to know about?
I’m not planning on any new procedural changes for the upcoming year. I strive to make our court easily accessible to all parties. Practitioners who routinely practice in Court 8 have learned that I do not require the filing of a motion for a change of plea hearing. I typically accept plea agreements at pre-trial conferences rather than re-setting the matter for a guilty plea sentencing hearing. If all parties are present and prepared to move a case forward to resolution, I do my best not to delay that process.
Q: How, if at all, do you think that your experience as a solo/small firm private practice attorney has helped prepare you for your position? How do you think that experience tempers how you approach your cases and running your court?
Prior to taking the bench, I was a solo practitioner. When you are a small firm with limited resources, it is important that you are organized and skilled at maintaining your calendar. Having experienced the daily race of running from court to court covering hearings, I feel as though that experience makes me patient with lawyers in that situation. As long as the attorney exhibits professionalism by checking in with my staff and maintains good contact regarding their whereabouts throughout the session, I’ll work to have their case called up upon their return. There are usually plenty of cases to be called and work to be done that we are able to accommodate.
Q: What was the last book you read?
My one year old and I read Llama Llama Red Pajama at least three times a day...and it never gets old!
Q: Last movie? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
American Sniper – two thumbs up!
Q: On a Saturday afternoon you would likely be found...?
Watching college basketball in the winter or outside enjoying the sun in the summer.
This post was written by Julie Chambers of Chambers Law Office LLC. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Solo/Small Firm Practice Section page, please email Rachel Beachy at firstname.lastname@example.org.