Family Law

Family Law News VOLUME 45, ISSUE 1, FALL 2023

CHEERS! EUROPEAN BEVERAGE AND ONE-JUDGE RULES

Written by Nathan w. Gabbard*

"Is there a European Beverage waiver, counsel?" It is not uncommon to hear this type of inquiry during case management or trial setting conferences. Without knowing its meaning, a cautious counsel might answer in the negative to play it safe and guard against waiving any of a client’s rights. Whether to agree to such a waiver is a case-specific analysis that will be benefited by having an understanding of what it is and why it exists.

The one-judge rule—the right to have one judge hear evidence and issues rulings—is the foundational context for the inquiry as to whether such a waiver is given. Notions of due process buttress the rule. However, as is common with legal principles in general, there are many exceptions to the rule. The one-judge rule, its application, and some exceptions will be discussed in this article.

As a general rule, parties are entitled to have one judge hear all evidence and rule on all issues in their case. If the judge who hears the evidence becomes unavailable, then a second judge must hear all of the evidence and decide all issues. It would be a denial of due process for the second judge to enter a judgment without hearing all evidence.

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