What Makes a Great Trial Judge? Podcast #6 – Judge Tonya Parker

Published on Jan 12, 2024
Welcome to the “What Makes a Great Trial Judge” podcast, part of the Lawyer Minds ecosystem. We’ve paired up with Lisa Blue, a practicing psychologist of 46 years and trial attorney of 44 years, to discuss some of the ways trial judges—especially those dealing with trauma-intensive cases—can improve their techniques and social practices, making the litigation experience more meaningful for jurors and litigants alike. So, how do you tell the difference between a great trial judge and one who needs to work on their social intelligence skills? Let's find out.

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Lisa Blue, a lawyer with the Dallas firm Baron and Blue PLLC, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and two master’s degrees from the University of Virginia in Counseling Psychology. After a brief teaching career, she returne …

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In the sixth episode of “What Makes a Great Trial Judge?”, Lisa Blue interviews Judge Tonya Parker, Judge of the 116th Judicial District Court. The Honorable Tonya Parker has held this position since 2011 and has served twice as the Presiding Judge for the Dallas County Civil District Courts. She also serves as an Adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Remedies project.

Judge Tonya Parker is often recognized for her performance and temperament on the bench. She is also known for her high overall approval rates in the Dallas Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Polls, which exceeded 92% between the years 2013 and 2019. Her ratings are among the highest ratings of the evaluated judges.

During the pod, Judge Tonya Parker talks about how vital it is for judges to be open-minded and even-tempered, yet still passionate about what they’re doing. The civil justice system is something every legal professional should feel enthusiastic about. As someone who is openly LGBTQ+ and African American, Judge Tonya Parker also speaks of the importance of treating all litigants and cases equally—with grace, whenever possible—but always letting the court of law dictate the final say.

Among her other strategies, Judge Tonya Parker discusses how she opens up every case proceeding—by summarizing what the court knows and how they are prepared. This helps place the attorneys and everyone in the courtroom at ease. Being courteous also places the courtroom at ease. With more actionable tips like these, Judge Tonya Parker offers valuable information for any judge or aspiring judge looking to make improvements.