Verdict - Summer 2011 - (Page 30)

judicial spotlight Reflections from the Bench BY ROBERT F. GLASS J udge Tony DelCampo, one of the State’s most trusted and respected trial judges, recently retired from the DeKalb County State Court, where he presided over civil trials for nine years, to join the boutique trial firm Harris Penn Lowry DelCampo, LLP, as partner. Judge DelCampo was born in Peru and moved to Atlanta in 1979. After graduating from Emory University for his undergraduate studies and Georgia State University Law School, he began his law career defending product liability lawsuits in South Carolina. After returning to Atlanta, Judge DelCampo established a successful plaintiff’s trial practice in Atlanta, before being tapped by Governor Roy Barnes to serve on the State Court. During his time as a trial judge, he presided over several high-profile cases, including all of the civil lawsuits related to the Brian Nichols courthouse shootings in Fulton County. He took the bench with the goal of making positive changes in how trial judges, in general, run their caseloads. As a practitioner, Judge DelCampo grew frustrated with how long judges took to rule on standard motions. He thus began his judgeship with the goal of ruling on motions and objections expeditiously and in a manner that kept the cases moving forward toward resolution. He encouraged several newly appointed judges to adopt the same mindset and was involved in the new Judges’ training provided by the Council of State Court Judges. He believes trial judges need to be available and involved in their cases, helping to resolve disputes and facilitate resolution. With great fondness, Judge DelCampo reflects on how much he enjoyed watching talented trial lawyers present their cases to juries. He strongly believes that nothing is Georgia Trial Lawyers Association He believes trial judges need to be available and involved in their cases, helping to resolve disputes and facilitate resolution. more important to a trial lawyer than his or her credibility with the court. One area in which credibility can be compromised, the Judge warns, is by knowingly misstating the law to a judge. At one point in his career on the bench, a lawyer before did just that — emphatically assuring him that this erroneous proposition had been in effect for decades. Taking the matter under advisement, Judge DelCampo, after doing his own research, quickly found out that the lawyer was wrong. That lawyer’s reputation amongst the DeKalb County bench — and beyond — will be tarnished forever. Judge DelCampo believes strongly in Lincoln’s maxim that “a lawyer’s reputation is his stock in trade.” After nine years on the bench, presiding over civil trials, what did Judge DelCampo come to learn about jurors? Although inherently skeptical, he found that jurors are smart and have a clear understanding of the cases and the parties’ positions. They know when a lawyer is unprepared and when a witness overreaches. They know when a plaintiff is overstating his or her injuries, and, although the jurors before Judge DelCampo’s court were relatively content to perform their civic duty, they reacted harshly to anyone wasting their time. Judge DelCampo suggests one way we, as the lawyers, can avoid wasting jurors’ time, is to do a better job of listening to the Court and our opposing counsel during disputes that arise over the course of motions and trial. For younger lawyers, he emphasizes the importance of trying cases and learning by experience, whether in a small case or otherwise. Lots of cases he saw were fi led by younger lawyers but never pursued through trial. He believes having the reputation of taking cases all the way to trial is beneficial to both the clients and the lawyer. The essence of the quip, “trial by fi re.” Please welcome Judge DelCampo back to private practice if you see him at a function. The bar has lost an extremely valuable asset to our state judiciary. Nevertheless, what we have lost, Judge DelCampo’s current and future clients will gain by being represented by a n excel lent trial lawyer and former judge who is already off to a roaring start back i n t he pra c t ice of law. ● 30

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Summer 2011

Let the Jurors Be Heard
A Rule Needing Limits: The “Right For Any Reason” Rule
Speaking Out of Turn: Ex Parte Interviews With Plaintiff’s Treating Physicians
GTLA 2011 President’s Gala: In Pictures
Legislative Relationships: The Key to Legislative Results
Welcome to the Federal Rules of Evidence: Georgia’s New Evidence Code
Judicial Spotlight: Reflections from the Bench
Book Review: The Fall of the House of Zeus
How I Obtained Justice for My Client: Cranford v. Ernest Homes
Technology Update: Securing Justice for Victims of Negligence? There’s an App for That!
Lessons from the Listserver: Is Defendant Driver History Permissible
Recent Updates in Workers’ Compensation
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Profile Listings

Verdict - Summer 2011