“The most important thing for a judge is not professional experience, but patience”*

US District Court of Arizona

What are the peculiarities of a precedent-based legal system? How should a judge perceive each judicial situation? These and other questions were addressed by Judge John Tuchi during the extremely informative visit by scholars from the “Journalism. Technology, and Democracy” SUSI to the Federal District Court of Arizona.

Dann Barr led the field trip to the U.S. District Court

A precedent-based legal system is foundational for the United States. Coming from the Ukrainian legal tradition, which has roots largely in the Roman legal system, it is sometimes hard to comprehend how a judge can (1) remember, (2) systematize, and (3) use precedents in judicial activity, since it is often hard to assess the degree of relevance between a case from, say, 100 years ago, and the case at hand.

Though it may seem quite intricate, a precedent-based legal system has developed basic rules of thumb or heuristics. Given this, the two main attributes of the legal system in the United States are consistency and predictability.

Afterwards, Judge J. Tuchi kindly showed the scholars a courtroom and explained how the judicial hearings proceed in both criminal and civil cases.

In general, according to Judge Tuchi, the job of a judge requires above all patience, which is more important than experience. Additionally, a judge must apply a wide range of research skills, the most significant of which are self-criticism and a willingness to pore over the transcript and be careful with every word during hearings. 

*Judge John Tuchi