On the eve of trial, we were sent to another judge to conduct a settlement conference this week.
In his chambers, the settlement judge asked us about our legal theories, and how we planned to prove them.
The judge then asked about a specific issue, "How do you intend to get that into evidence?"
I proferred an exception to the hearsay rule.
He thought about it a second, and replied, "Inventive. I must say that is creative. That just might work." He then complimented my trial skills to my client sitting there. A gracious move, but I wasn't sure if he was just being kind.
He then went over the edge. In self-deprecating fashion, he talked about how he could stand to learn about evidence rulings. I had to stop him.
I knew the judge was being unduly humble. I knew he taught evidence for many years at a leading law school before he became a judge, so I called him on it. He sheepishly admitted he was a tenured and published evidence professor.
Then, I turned to my client and in similar self-deprecating fashion told my client, "You see, I wouldn't dare teach this Judge about evidence."
I think Steven Covey would call that exchange a win-win.