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LABI, corporate lawyers propose legal advisory council to evaluate courtroom decisions

August 22, 2019
Originally posted on The Louisiana Record

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry along with corporate counsel are teaming up on a project that will evaluate judges on how their decisions in the courtroom affect businesses and the economy, via a proposed legal advisory council.

The idea is to provide a check on a judicial system that hosts a high rate of litigation affecting businesses. 

However, the Louisiana State Bar Association reacted negatively to the approach, saying it would be simplistic, superficial and overall ineffective.

State Bar President Robert Kutcher said that an evaluation approach to checking judges' decisions would be unfair. 

“By definition, half the people who walk out of a courtroom are disappointed in a judge's decision,” Kutcher said. “A judge's job is just like an umpire in baseball. They call balls and strikes. You don’t like the strike zone? You don’t blame the umpire, you do something about the strike zone.”

The nature of the job is to provide determination based on the facts presented in a case and the laws that pertain to it, Kutcher said. An organization created to moderate the appearance of courtroom decisions to the public won't affect the way the judicial system works, he said. 

“I and the State Bar certainly can't control people's perceptions,” Kutcher said. “A judge who is discharging his or her duty is making a decision based on the facts presented and the law that applies. And you could have bad facts. You could have bad law. I think it is a little unrealistic to say we are going to have a scorecard or an evaluation system.”

Kutcher said there's already a system in place that places checks on court decisions. 

“Everybody’s human and everybody makes mistakes, but there is an appellate review system,” Kutcher said. “It is the nature of the judicial system. People are going to be unhappy. You literally cannot please all the people all the time in a lawsuit setting. By definition.”