Traffic Court is sometimes the only time that ordinary citizens come into contact with the judiciary. To the public's surprise (perhaps) Traffic Court is the first assignment for most, if not all, of the incoming class of judges. In anticipation of the upcoming elections in Cook County, I thought I'd put together a list of some of the positive attributes I've seen as judges first put on the robe and hop on the bench:
- greeting everyone in the courtroom,
- moving the call: if the person is represented, great. if not, move them along as quickly as possible,
- appreciate the familiar faces in the courtroom; these are the people who can assist when you first start out and are learning the system,
- appreciate the clerks (but realize you are the judge, not them),
- don't trust everything the State/City attorney tells you,
- if you have a question, ask someone who has more experience than you do,
- be prepared (be familiar with relevant case law, create a bench book if you're not given one, ask questions of people who know this area of the law),
- smile, you have a great job!
All in all, Traffic Court can be an amazing place to work. It has a bit of learning curve as a first assignment for a lot of the courtroom personnel (judges, state's attorneys, city attorneys, public defenders, etc.), but with the right attitude that's what makes it fun!