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PRIVATE JUDGING

As a Private Judge, Alexandra Leichter is available to other attorneys and their clients to provide an efficient, cost-effective, and family-centered approach to dissolving marriages and resolving other family law issues. Attorneys and litigants may opt to rely on Alexandra, serving as a Private Judge, to resolve all of their family law issues or merely a subset of the issues (while the remaining issues may be resolved by the public court system).

Judgments rendered in private trial have the same force and effect as judgments in public court trials. Court reporters may be present at hearings (per request of, and compensation by, the parties), standard rules of evidence apply, and decisions rendered can be appealed by either party directly to the Court of Appeal. Key benefits of Private Judging include:

  • Trials can proceed without the unwanted and often extensive interruptions and delays of the public court system, because the schedule of the litigants and the attorneys can be easily accommodated by the Private Judge.

  • Parties often pay far less in legal fees than they would via the public court system because:

    • The delays, interruptions and postponements inherent in the public court system are significantly reduced (and often outright eliminated) in private adjudication.

    • The significant fees incurred in educating judicial officers in public court about the relevant and applicable laws are not necessary in private adjudications by Alexandra Leichter because Alexandra is a Certified Family Law Specialist, Certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, and has over 40 years’ experience in litigating complex property, support and custody issues. Public judges, especially those newly assigned to the family law courts, often have little or no experience in family law matters; yet, they are asked to resolve some of the most complex and life-altering decisions families face. As a Private Judge, Alexandra’s extensive knowledge and experience in family law eliminates the guess-work and lengthy process of having to bring to the judge’s attention the intricacies of a complex family law case.

    • Private trials typically proceed more quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively than public trials because the focus in a private trial is entirely on a specific dispute at hand, unlike the public courts where a Judge often handles a docket of over 30 cases a day. 

    • Private trials can help prevent loss of property, minimize the disruption in the lives of children, and resolve family law issues quickly, effectively, and as painlessly as possible. Alexandra can schedule meetings at off-peak times (e.g. 7:00am or 7:00pm), as well as on weekends or holidays. She can also respond promptly to emails and telephone calls from family law attorneys, which further expedites the process for all involved.

CASE MANAGEMENT

Parties looking for a cost-effective and non-confrontational way to move their family law matter forward expeditiously can retain Alexandra as a Case Management Referee. In this role, she will:

  • Oversee the orderly production of documents.

  • Schedule depositions.

  • Curtail abuse of the discovery process.

  • Assist in creating timelines and guidance for the systematic preparation of the case.

Most public judicial officers don’t have the time to provide these services.  Alexandra is both qualified and capable of implementing these case management services.

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The parties themselves (under CCP §638) or the courts (under CCP §639) can appoint Alexandra as a Referee to decide various key issues in a family law matter or to make recommendations to the court regarding resolution of disputes at depositions or other discovery matters. Key benefits of this approach include:

  • Alexandra can make recommendations to the judge regarding discovery matters, such as claims of privilege, and can make immediate rulings on objections during depositions of parties and witnesses. This helps streamline the discovery process and reduce the number of court appearances.

  • Alexandra can oversee division of personal property to ensure that it proceeds in accordance with the parties’ agreement or the court’s order.

  • Alexandra can provide the parties with expeditious rulings on complex accounting and other issues, to reduce the parties’ reliance on the overworked and under-funded public court system.

ARBITRATION

EVALUATIVE MEDIATION

Too often attorneys and clients believe that the only way to resolve a case is by going to trial.  That is not true.  Alexandra proves, as she has in innumerable settlement conferences, that the most entrenched litigants can settle their family law cases as long as a forceful, knowledgeable, experienced, outsider can evaluate their case, give knowledgeable opinions on the chances of success on their legal and factual theories, and thus accomplish settlement in some of the most intransigent and difficult cases.  Alexandra’s successful career in litigating complex family law cases renders her uniquely qualified to help settle these cases even if it’s on the eve of a scheduled lengthy trial.

Family law litigants who want someone, like a judge, to resolve their disputes, but want that resolution to remain private and out of the public eye, can retain Alexandra to provide either binding (i.e., court-enforced) or non-binding arbitration. The key benefits of arbitration are:

  • Arbitration is similar to Private Judging, but it has the advantage of being kept out of the public record. This can encourage spouses to more freely discuss issues and disclose documents without fear of public access. Arbitrations are always private proceedings whereas Private Trials are always public: neither the media nor the public is allowed in Arbitration proceeding without the consent of all the parties, whereas Private Trials with Private Judges must, by law, remain open to anyone who wishes to attend.

  • Documents submitted to the arbitrator during Arbitration proceedings are confidential, and neither released to the public nor submitted to the court. Again, this extra layer of privacy encourages more open, honest communication between parties. Thus, especially in high profile and large asset/income litigation, Arbitration is the only method by which the parties can assure that the public does not have the opportunity to delve into and disseminate information about the parties’ private finances.

  • Procedural rules and rules of evidence are much more relaxed in Arbitration than in trial.

  • Although arbitrators generally do not have to follow substantive law and procedural rules as in trials, parties can choose to sign an arbitration agreement that does provide for the Arbitrator to abide by the procedural and substantive laws of the State of California, and can further provide, that the Arbitrator’s failure to do so entitles the parties to seek review of the entire proceeding in the trial court. Preservation of this right of review alleviates any party’s concern that the Arbitrator may opt to make awards that are not anticipated or which do not follow California law.

CONSULTATION & CASE EVALUATION

Consultation

A successful outcome to a family law dispute often depends on the amount of information obtained by the parties before the legal process begins. With highly skilled litigators and over five decades of combined experience handling complex and high-conflict cases, the firm provides clients with the focus, direction and strategy they need to wisely move ahead through the process and avoid litigation pitfalls. Key benefits of such consultation include:

  • The advice is an excellent “reality check,” as the attorney’s role in this process is not to undertake representation, but to inform clients how and when to proceed. No amount of general reading material can substitute for the information gathered and confidence garnered by a one-on-one consultation with one of the firm’s attorneys.

  • The attorney will advise where, when, or even whether to file for dissolution, how and whether to proceed on a certain course of action (e.g.,litigation, or mediation), and what consequences to expect from various actions that may be taken.

  • All matters discussed during consultation are strictly confidential, and the attorney-client privilege attaches the moment the process begins.

Case Evaluation

Both family law attorneys and their clients are often concerned about the progress of an existing family law case, and that’s where a “second opinion” can make a profound difference.

The firm can provide this “second opinion” or a “reality check” in a thorough and unbiased manner. The perspective and guidance its attorneys offer can be the difference between a matter that moves forward, and one that gets bogged down and becomes stressful, expensive, and time-consuming.

The firm’s attorneys have had many years of experience providing other attorneys with insight and helpful solutions to problems they face when representing their clients. They also have extensive experience consulting with clients who are uncomfortable with, or who seek a “second opinion” about, the advice provided to them by their own attorneys. A “second opinion” from one of the firm’s attorneys will provide an unbiased evaluation of the case, whether to another attorney, or to the client of another attorney.