Taking the Bench: An Interactive, Online Course for New Trial Judges

November 6 – December 8, 2017Web-Based, Faculty-Led | Tuition $199

This course is designed for general jurisdiction judges who have recently been elected or appointed, but have not yet taken the bench. The course will also be valuable for trial judges who recently began their judicial careers. The course will take approximately 4-6 hours per week, and is five weeks in length, with week three being a break week. This web-based course has three components: 1) Welcome to the Course, 2) Four Learning Modules, and 3) Help and Resources.

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Welcome to the Course

This section provides introductory information about the course, a course roster, course outline, and curriculum developer biographies.

Learning Modules

Week One: Transition from the Bar to the Bench

After completing this week’s materials, you will be able to:

  1. Define the positive aspects of being a judge;
  2. Differentiate between those community, political, business, and financial activities that you are allowed to attend and those you are not;
  3. Summarize your responsibilities for winding up a law practice (if relevant);
  4. Identify the most common “ethical pitfalls” in the transition from law practice to the bench;
  5. Identify the types of mental health issues faced by judges, new and experienced, and describe potential solutions;
  6. Recite the importance of a fair and impartial court system and the rationale behind judicial independence; and
  7. Define “principled decision making.”

Week Two: The Role of the Judge in the Courtroom

After completing this week’s materials, you will be able to:

  1. Describe your contempt powers with an understanding that contempt is only to be used as a last resort;
  2. Define the elements for making a successful record for appellate purposes;
  3. Outline ways to avoid wasting time at trial;
  4. State the rationale for providing access to self-represented litigants;
  5. Explain the importance of “procedural fairness”; and
  6. Summarize the role of judicial discretion and ways it can be exercised appropriately.

Week Three: Self-Represented Litigants, Interpretation, and Opinion Writing in the Courtroom

After completing this week’s materials, you will be able to:

  1. Define more clearly the judge’s role with self-represented litigants;
  2. Describe the judge’s role with interpretation;
  3. Identify the elements of effective judicial opinion writing;
  4. Summarize the necessary components for an effective court interpreter program; and
  5. State the criteria that judges should consider in sentencing.

Week Four: The Judge, the Court, and Media

After completing this week’s materials, you will be able to:

  1. Define when you may speak publicly on pending matters;
  2. Describe how to effectively deal with the media;
  3. Summarize effective methods for responding to criticism; and
  4. Describe methods for ensuring safety in the courtroom.

Help and Resources

This section provides NJC distance learning staff contact information, instructions on how to join a web conference, and information regarding the NJC help desk.

Qualifies as an elective in the Certificate in Judicial Development, General Jurisdiction Trial Skills program.

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2017-08-16T12:03:40+00:00