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Fairfax County Judge Names Unavailable Until Your GD Court Date

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Fairfax County judge names are no longer listed before the court date for General District Court DUI & misdemeanor cases

Fairfax County judge names for years were posted in advance for the week for General District Court DUI and misdemeanor cases. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I relied on that list to know my judge’s name for each day of that week, while also knowing that the same judge would sit in one particular courtroom the majority of the time for a given month, and then (for a few years at least) often rotate into a next predictable courtroom. “Know your judge” is a lesson learned early on by criminal defense lawyers. Consequently, knowing the judge’s name early enables preparing the case earlier for that particular judge.

Am I guaranteed the judge listed for my courtroom?

Virginia DUI and criminal defendants are not guaranteed having the judge listed for their courtroom. Schedules can change. Judges can miss court for illness or vacation. If Judge A’s courtroom has 50 litigants and the other courtroom has 5 short litigation matters, the latter judge may well offer to handle some of Judge A’s cases. Knowing your Fairfax County judge name at least enables your lawyer to prepare for the possibility that this will be your judge.

Why is a Fairfax County judge list no longer posted at the courthouse?

Why is a Fairfax County judge list no longer available in advance to the public for General District Court? Is this approach designed to minimize judge shopping? Is it meant to protect judicial anonymity? Is it an effort to keep work more interesting for judges, by varying their daily assignments rather than having them remain in the same courtroom handling the same types of cases for nearly an entire month?

How should a Fairfax DUI or criminal defendant prepare for appearing before a judge whose identity is not known before the trial date?

Knowing the name of one’s Fairfax County judge before the General District Court trial date turns out to have been a bonus that no longer exists. About the only was that I can now know my judge’s name for that courtroom is to see if the satellite courthouse will tell me which judge is sitting for the week in the satellite courtrooms. If I need to set a matter to be heard before a particular judge (for instance to ask to clarify or modify a sentence), I simply may ask the court clerk’s office to tell me when and in what courtroom that judge will be sitting again.

The judge you get is akin to the poker hand you draw

Your Fairfax County judge is your judge for that day. That is part of the poker hand you have been dealt for the day. This means that your Virginia DUI or criminal lawyer needs to be fully focused on what persuades that particular judge. Sometimes, your lawyer or you will be pleasantly surprised by the results you get with a judge who has the reputation to be harsh, arrogant, uncaring and/or capricious. Sometimes judge are unable to shake such reputations if litigants are constantly avoiding trials with them by being more amenable to accepting the best settlement negotiation they can achieve, or by obtaining a continuance where possible (for instance with the Fairfax court policy to allow either party to continue a Virginia DUI case on the first post-arraignment court date.)

You don’t know who will be on your jury either, but can at least obtain a list of the jury candidate pool

Knowing the dynamics of your judge and jury is so important that I routinely obtain a list of the jury candidate pool in advance of my criminal or DUI jury trial date. That list provides such information as each jurors’ age and occupation. These are humans we are working to persuade, and we criminal defense lawyers want to know about the people we are endeavoring to persuade on the road to obtaining as much victory for our clients as possible.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jon Katz pursues your best possible defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Jon will be delighted to speak with you for free in person about your court-pending case, at 703-383-1100.