12/10/09: The Honorable Richard C. Collins

Earlier today, I mentioned that last Thursday, I attended and spoke at the Lexington County Bar’s Annual Conference. Among the presenters were The Honorable James O. Spence, Master-in-Equity; Desa Ballard, Private Attorney; The Honorable Richard C. Collins, Magistrate;  The Honorable Daniel R. Eckstrom, Probate Court; and me.

This post will cover Judge Collins’ portion of the presentation.

Judge Collins is a Magistrate in Lexington County (Oak Grove); he is also an attorney. Even more exciting – he had only 24 hours to prepare for the presentation. Unfortunately the scheduled speaker had an unexpected conflict. But he had done his homework.

His advice?

First, RESPECT. Attorneys need to remember that they are officers of the court. They need to listen to self-represented litigants (SRLs). Really listen. Without interruption. They need to RESPECT SRLs. Sure, make objections for the record, but not over and over. SRLs want to be heard. They want their day in court. Let them say what they need to say without interruption!

Second, this is likely the most important day for the SRL. While judges and attorneys hear similar stories, the difference each day is the person involved. And to that person, this is a hugely important day. Have PATIENCE. Judges – explain the procedure, what’s happening. Attorneys – show them respect and let them speak. And let the Judge explain what’s happening without interrupting.

Good advice Judge Collins!