What do judges want from the lawyers who appear before them? Education. Although the judge, like a teacher, is positioned in front of the room and controls the proceedings, the primary teachers in court are not judges but lawyers.
At the outset of every case, the judge knows none of the facts—the timeline, characters and technology all begin as a mystery to the court. Bit by bit over the course of the case, the judge learns the facts. Often the judge, who hears many cases in numerous subject areas, also needs help with the nuances of the legal principles on which the case will turn. For example, even judges who preside over a significant docket of patent cases and are familiar with the basic canons of claim construction (i.e., interpretation of patent claims) still rely heavily on the lawyers to identify the most important doctrines and the most relevant precedents.
Patent cases present special challenges because the technical subject matter can be difficult to explain to a judge who lacks scientific training. Complex technology is best explained incrementally and with appropriate analogies to occurrences in everyday life. The lawyer must be fluent in the technology so that he or she can answer the court’s questions without hesitation.