What is Private Judging?
One of the processes available to parties in resolving their divorce is stipulating to appoint a private judge to manage and resolve their case. This is a variation of the negotiation, settlement and litigation processes, where instead of resorting to the public courts in the event the attorneys are unable to resolve an issue, they confer with the private judge. The private judge will take a more proactive role in managing the case as well as in encouraging settlement discussions as early as possible. The private judge will work with the attorneys to streamline processes when it is necessary to have matters submitted to the private judge for decision.
The parties can stipulate to a private judge for settlement purposes only or as and “All-Purpose Judge” (APJ).
In some circumstances, parties might appoint a private judge for the sole purpose of assisting with and formalizing settlement discussions. The judge’s role in this case is very similar to that of a mediator but with the authority to confirm and if necessary, enforce a settlement agreement reached by the parties.
An all-purpose appointment gives the private judge all the powers of a Superior Court judge in the case, from resolving preliminary issues such as temporary support and discovery disputes to eventually hearing a full trial of the case. As a practical matter, the judge will work closely with the attorneys to manage the case and resolve disputes along the way, often informally through telephone or face-to-face conferences with the attorneys, but if necessary with greater formality and full hearings. The judge will also be attentive to opportunities to explore settlement from the earliest discussions of the issues. If the parties are unable to resolve any issue in the case, the judge may conduct an evidentiary hearing or trial on the unresolved issues and issue a decision.
With a private judge, there is a great amount of efficiency and collaboration that is generally not available from the public courts due to their heavy caseloads and required formality. Even after paying for the time of the private judge, especially in complex or high conflict cases, the cost savings over the public court process can be significant. When two attorneys are involved, the time that they save in getting immediate guidance from the judge, on streamlined methods for submitting issues for decision, and active collaborative settlement efforts, more than pays for the cost of the judge’s time.
Private Judging through Threshold Resources
With her previous litigation experience as well as her expertise in complex children’s and financial issues, Ms. Cassedy is able to effectively assist counsel in identifying issues and possible solutions in complicated matters. She is pragmatic and professional in her efforts to assist counsel in resolving issues without litigation and is also highly qualified to manage formal litigation when necessary. Private judge services by Ms. Cassedy are available to parties represented by counsel.