An ex-judge friend of Blawgletter's said he expected lawyers to argue their clients' cases to him as hard as they could. He had little patience with advocates who conceded points in hopes of pleasing, or placating, him. And he told of instances where lawyers all but surrendered in the face of mild to moderate judicial reproach.
That gave us pause. Sure, lawyers want to avoid making a judge mad at them or their clients. Anger and irritation may translate into rulings that hurt our client's case. But where do you draw the line between zealous advocacy and placation? Do you need to?
Judges who trust you don't need much placating. If any. They may not like your arguments. They may not like your client. They may not have the warmest of feelings for you. But they trust lawyers who don't waste their time, who give them candid answers, and who solve problems instead of creating them.
One of our favorite judges, Learned Hand, praised a lawyer thus:
With the courage which only comes of justified self-confidence, he dared to rest his case upon its strongest point, and so avoided that appearance of weakness and uncertainty which comes of a clutter of arguments. Few lawyers are willing to do this; it is the mark of the most distinguished talent.
We don't know if the lawyer won. But we suspect Judge Hand trusted the lawyer he deemed "of the most distinguished talent" due to his "courage . . . to rest his case upon its strongest point". And we doubt the lawyer conceded anything important in hopes of currying favor with His Honor.