When the parties have not been able to successfully mediate all of their issues, the private trial may be the perfect next step. Litigants may stipulate to a private judge from the Short Trial Judge list; all terms of the private trial such as the judges compensation, the place and time of trial, discovery parameters and other agreed upon terms are set forth in the Stipulation and Order. After the trial the private judge renders findings of fact, conclusions of law and judgment which the sitting judge signs off on. This is a final judgment which is appealable. The benefit of the alternate (private) trial is the the parties may immediate set a trial date rather than wait months if not years for a trial setting with the sitting judge. They can have their trial days in consecutive days, at their convenience, in a private setting, rather than at the convenience of the court. The litigants maintain control over the process which is often seen as extremely beneficial. It should be noted that the term private is somewhat of a misnomer. The trials are open to the public unless subject to closure by statute or rule.
Gayle Nathan has been an attorney since 1988. Her experience as a district court judge in the Family Court (2011-2014) uniquely qualifies her to sit as a private judge.