Going to court? Hire a judge!

The SE Texas Record Jul. 6, 2015, 6:44pm


Judge Ward served as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas for 12 years. . . . During his 12-year tenure, Judge Ward presided over cases in the Marshall, Tyler, and Texarkana divisions and had one of the heaviest intellectual property dockets in the country. Judge Ward conducted over 150 jury trials, presided over hundreds of patent cases. . . .

The text above is excerpted from the biography page of T. John Ward on the website of the Ward, Smith & Hill law firm. A judge no more, Ward is now a mere plaintiff's attorney, as he was before assuming his judgeship. Nevertheless, the honorific he no longer merits has somehow established itself as his first name.

It doesn't hurt, of course, when trying to drum up clients for patent infringement cases, to let it subtly be known to prospects that a member of the firm used to be a judge in a patent-litigation mecca like the Eastern District of Texas – not only a judge, but one of the judges most responsible for turning it into a rocket docket.

Concern is often expressed about the “revolving doors” politicians use to secure employment for themselves in the private sector when their terms as public servants expire, and speculation abounds as to what favors they might have provided or promised in return for their sinecures.

Rarely, however, is such concern or speculation expressed about judges leaving the bench to return to private practice. Perhaps, it should be. After all, opportunities for mischief abound and judges are not known to be any more saintly than the rest of us.

What impact might the once-honorable John Ward's status as an ex-judge have had on a recent case in his ex-docket in which Apple was found guilty of patent infringement and fined $532,900,000?

Smartflash, the Tyler company claiming infringement, clearly saw some benefit in securing “Judge” Ward as one of its counsel. Was it just for his expertise?

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