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Do judges know every law applied to a case or does an attorney have the duty to inform the judge?

Milwaukee, WI |
Filed under: Professional ethics

Do judges know every law applied to a case or does an attorney have the duty to inform the judge?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Both attorneys have the obligation to inform the courts of applicable cases, and most judges also have law clerks to check the briefs of the attorneys and do additional case law research as necessary.

    Attorneys however are much more critical in informing the court of the FACTS of the case, since judges usually have a good handle on the applicable case law but no independent way of finding out the facts.

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  2. It depends on the circumstances. No every judge does not know every law. But lawyers do not inform the court of every possibly applicable law. Lawyers as advocates cite to the law that helps to advance the interests of their client.


  3. In general, judges don't know all the law that may apply to a particular case because it is facts that drive the law in most circumstances. Judges do try to figure out the right law and they have clerks to help them in most states. Lawyers argue what aspect of the law best serves the client, but ultimately it is the judge who makes the decision on what law applies. Further, New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct require that attorneys advise the court not only of the applicable law but also of law that directly contradicts their position.

    A response to a question posted on Avvo is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is informational only. Allan E. Richardson, Esq. arichardson@employmentlaw-nj.com Richardson, Galella & Austermuhl 142 Emerson ST., Woodbury, NJ 08096 856-579-7045.


  4. No, judges do not know every law. Neither do lawyers. It is the lawyer's duty to look up or know the law that applies to a client's case. It may be the lawyer's duty to inform the court as to what that law is; the lawyer cannot mislead the court about the law.

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  5. I don't know anyone, judge, or lawyer that knows it all. Some people may think they do, but realistically depending on the legal issue, you should seek the advice of an attorney in his or her specialty. That attorney may not know every law in a given area, but will know how to find the answer. As far as a judge goes, it is the attorneys responsibility to educate the judge if he or she does not know, and provide them with applicable statutes and/or case law.

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