Its nice to see, and good news for the self-represented, regardless of the merits (on which this blog is not here commenting). The Gray Lady endorsing a judicial candidate based on experience dealing with the self-represented.
CIVIL COURT, THE BRONX, SECOND DISTRICT Eddie McShan is a special referee in State Supreme Court and adjudicates divorce cases. He has a good judicial demeanor and experience helping litigants who represent themselves in court.
While many of us try to avoid phrases like “helping litigants who represent themselves in court,” in favor of those like “helping make sure that all litigants are heard, regardless of whether they have a lawyer,” it is a step forward when such experience is explicitly valued. Indeed, all judicial candidates in all systems, appointive, elected or mixed, should be asked about their experiences with, and attitudes to the self-represented. It is a useful prism on judicial demeanor, values, and approach, even for those who have not yet sat on the bench.
A comment asks why we avoid phrases like “helping litigants who represent themselves in court.”
In short, judicial neutrality, and the perception of neutrality, require that judges do not “help” either side. Rather judges try to make sure that both sides are fully heard. This means making sure that proceedings are understood, asking questions to get to the bottom of what happened, exercising their judicial discretion to ensure that issues get addressed, etc.
Here are links to a couple of my articles on how judges can do that: