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Why Can’t I Just Talk to the Judge?

 


How can I speak to the judge on my case?

To speak to the judge on your case, you must file a written motion with the court. You cannot write the judge a personal letter or email, and you cannot speak to the judge unless you are in a hearing. 

Why can’t I communicate directly with the judge on my case?

Judges are not allowed to communicate with individual parties on their own. This is what the law calls an ex-parte communication. In order to keep the court process as fair and transparent as possible, ex-parte communication is strictly forbidden. You wouldn’t want the other party speaking to the judge without telling you, would you?

I’ve heard there’s always a judge on duty to hear my arguments immediately – what does that mean?

There is a judge on duty every day. This is because some situations are emergencies – getting set out of your home illegally, objecting to a decision that will take effect the next day, etc. Even if you take your argument up to the duty judge, you must still file a written motion. You cannot walk up to duty and have a conversation with the judge about your objection or request. 

What makes a motion special as opposed to a personal letter or email?

Motions become part of the public record because you have to file them with the court. You also have to send a copy of whatever you file to the other party, so a motion is not considered an ex-parte communication because both parties officially know about it. 

What if I need to tell the judge something I don’t want the other party to know about?

Unfortunately, you cannot keep secrets from the other party if you want the judge to know about them. In order to keep the case fair to everyone involved, there can be no secrets. As soon as you tell the judge something, you must also tell the other party. If you do not want the other party to know something, you cannot tell the judge about it. 


Still have questions about communicating with the judge? Visit the Self Help Resource Center Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 3 PM.