Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Secret Lives of Retired Judges

"Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston took one more step toward divorce last Friday when a retired judge in Los Angeles signed an official "judgment of dissolution" for their marriage. Just how much authority does a retired judge have? Quite a bit, if you're in California. Judges who leave the bench in any state can to into practice as private mediators or arbitrators. In the Golden State, they can also hire themselves out as "private judges." If both parties to a civil case agree to hire a private judge, they can do so with the prior permission of the county court. A private judge then takes an oath of office and serves exactly as if he were on the bench for the duration of that case. (Not all private judges are retired judges. Some are lawyers who have never served on the bench.) An unhappy couple might hire a private judge to bypass the delays that come with using the state court system. They might also choose to pay for their judge to avoid unwanted publicity. Private trials are often held as "settlements conferences," the details of which do not become part of the public record." By Daniel A. Engber. Link to Article

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2005/09/the_secret_live.html

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