Today, a fact of life is that judges are invited to and do speak at conferences that gather persons interested in a topic. Sometimes the judges show up with a message. Thus, this week’s Perrin conference on asbestos litigation included a panel composed of “asbestos judges” from some of the key venues for asbestos litigation. Some plainly had messages they sought to deliver, and the messages were in fact delivered (e.g. you lawyers need to work out more discovery issues). Other judges were relatively more passive, and mainly answered questions. Meanwhile, Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine was speaking to a conference of corporate directors, as described in a September 30, 2015 article. Judging by the article, he plainly had messages to deliver.
For some years now, I’ve been one of the many people wondering if the presence of judges at conferences is “good,” “bad” or otherwise. The overall answer is still not plain to me, and perhaps there is no one answer. But it is plain the situation is now firmly a part of the litigation process, and it needs to be considered and managed by litigants and their lawyers.