Can the Judge or Court Staff Give Me Legal Advice?
WHY CAN'T THE JUDGE OR COURT STAFF OR CLERKS HELP ME WITH MY CASE?
The judge is not a lawyer for either side. A judge is never permitted to give you legal advice about how to proceed with your case or tell you what you should or should not do. The court staff and clerks are not lawyers and so cannot give you legal advice. They also are not permitted to give you any help or advice about how best to handle your case.
If you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney of your choosing to obtain advice and instructions about what law applies to your case. The lawyer can tell you what the law allows and does not allow; can advise you about rules of procedure and rules of evidence. The judge, and court staff and clerks can never do this.
You must correctly complete all paperwork and forms. You must file your paperwork properly and on time. You must always give the other side a copy of any and all paperwork or forms you file with the court. While the court staff and clerks can show you where you can find forms you might find helpful in presenting or defending your case, they can never tell you what words to say or write on the forms.
CAN I JUST ASK THE JUDGE A QUICK QUESTION ABOUT MY CASE?
No. Our court system is designed to be an adversarial system. This permits each party to present their side and their evidence to the judge in the presence of each other. This way, each party knows and sees everything the judge hears, sees and considers in order to decide the case.
Rules from the Indiana Supreme Court strictly forbid judges from hearing evidence or talking about a case unless both sides have received a notice to appear in court and are given a chance to present their side of the case. A judge is not allowed to only listen to one side of the case if the other party has not had the chance to be present in court. This would not be fair.
IF I CAN'T SPEAK TO THE JUDGE, CAN I WRITE THE JUDGE A LETTER?
If you write a letter or send an email, the judge will not write back. Anything you send to the court, you must also send to the other party. There can never be any one-sided communication with the judge about your case. When anyone tries to talk to or communicate with a judge about any case and the other side is not present, this is called ex parte communication and is not permitted by the Code of Judicial Conduct.