“Let nothing be said of the dead, but good” is my translation. Having said that, I will violate that precept.

The last issue of Ohio Lawyer magazine had an article, “President’s Perspective,” on civility as one of the legacies of the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer. I am sure that among his friends in Columbus and fellow judges he was a decent and friendly guy and well liked among them.

I was not one of his friends, nor a fellow judge. I was just a lawyer who argued some cases in front of him. I would characterize his questions and manner on the bench as uncivil. Sure, a judge on an appellate bench should ask tough questions to parse out the issues, but those questions can be posed in a friendly conversational manner, and the response can and should be the same. If a judge wants to ask a question which he thinks is going to be a “gotcha,” it is just as effective to be civil about it, as to be rude.

The article goes on to describe “the legacy of Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer as a model for attorneys and judges of Ohio as we go forward” on matters of professionalism and civility.

I have never understood why civility and professionalism are part of the mandatory continuing legal education. Whenever a word ends with “ism,” bedtime is calling. I have been to numerous seminars on the subject and still do not know just what is “professionalism.” I could not find it in my legal dictionary. I ran a Google search and found that it was first used in 1865 and means to follow a profession. I suppose to question this is heresy. Some lawyers, and yes some judges, are just jerks. They are unfriendly, petty, and cannot be trusted. No amount of schooling will change them. Judge Moyer apparently thought that the CLE requirement could change them. It has not. It just wastes a few hours of our time every two years.

The practice of law, and probably any profession, is overwhelmingly enjoyable and satisfying. But about 5% of the time it is living hell – usually because a lawyer, like a shooting star is going to make his or her mark and the rest be damned; or a judge is going to show who is the boss by belittling and hectoring those appearing before him or her.

In fairness to Judge Moyer, I only know him as a recipient of questions from on high. His accomplishments may far exceed my little knowledge of him. May he rest in peace.