Hon. Debra A. James See Rating Details

Supreme Court (Civil)
New York County
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Attorney Average Rating:   2.8 - 16 rating(s)
Non-Attorney Average Rating:   - 0 rating(s)
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Only items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating.

General Rating Criteria

* Temperament (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Scholarship (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Industriousness (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
* Ability to Handle Complex Litigation (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Punctuality (1=Chronically Late,10=Always on Time)
* General Ability to Handle Pre-Trial Matters (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
* General Ability as a Trial Judge (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
Flexibility In Scheduling (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)

Criminal Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Plea Discussions (1=Not at all Involved, 10=Very Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Pretrial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Trial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Sentencing Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)

Civil Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation (1=Not at all Evenhanded,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Involvement in Settlement Discussions (1=Not at all Involved,10=Very Involved)
General Inclination (1=Pro-defendant, 10=Pro-plaintiff)

What others have said about Hon. Debra A. James


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY6636
I keep looking for the lights to mark my time is up as she counts down how much time from 3 minutes I have left - she even gave me 1 minute warning.
This isn't the Appellate Division.
Also, it would be nice if she knew the law.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY6121
God help us, lawyers and litigants alike. She thinks making a schedule unnecessarily tight passes for judicial scholarship. Verbose and childlike reasoning is the order of the day. She thinks on the fly, but her mouth is two steps ahead of her brain. Her court clerk is the pits - she has a chip on her shoulder that has a chip on its shoulder. Her court attorney blathers on and on and on, and then screws your file up but good. I've little hope that the court will push my case to a satisfactory conclusion. My adversary is in Queens, so maybe he'll tire before I will, since I am closer to the court.


Comment #: NY5978
I have seen a lot of Judges in my time, but I can say Judge Debra James is the absolute WORST. How a woman like this can get appointed to the bench is insanity. She has no concept of the law and rambles on and on about things that have nothing to do with the case at hand. She should be removed from the bench immediately.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY5273
I don't know about her being racist, but she is annoying. She will keep you there all day, going through each case in excruciating detail, even though there is a room full of attorneys waiting to argue their motions. It gets to the point that you try to work something out with your adversary so that you are not there all day! And when you do get before her, she doesn't listen to you, gets rude and clearly has made her mind up already. She seems to have a chip on her shoulder, and tries to act like she's on top of each argument, when she is just talking around in circles.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY4852
She is an unfair judge, and she refused to permit relevant evidence as cumulative. She appears to be very racist against white people. She seems to make decisions based on whether she finds a party likable to herself personally, rather than on the facts of the case (which she disregards at a whim). She should not be a judge, or anything like it.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY4516
I could not agree more with the prior comments. Judge James refuses to listen to legal arguments or actually read motion papers. Actually, she reads the first line and then pretends that she has actually read them, spending/wasting considerable time on each case attempting to "recap" her complete misunderstanding of the law/facts/arguments on the record, just to become enraged when counsel attempt to correct her mistaken record. She did not even hear complete arguments (or sentences). All parties are then asked to leave the courtroom promptly at 1pm so that they can close for lunch after waiting for nearly 4 hours and despite being in the middle of oral argument. She then refuses to complete arguments, and a written decision (short form order) is issued based on completely incorrect basic facts. She had heard a total of 3-4 cases in 4 hours, including pro se's, and had a courtroom full of attorneys waiting. Just an absolutely awful experience that does injustice to all sides.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY4152
Judge James is one of the scarest judges to appear before. She does not have a clue on the law and does not recognize precedence when it is handed to her in a neatly organized binder. Every time we have a case to which she is assigned, my firm tries to find new and inventive ways to work against the ignorance. In a recent Full Faith & Credit Clause Case, Judge James actually said on the record that precedent by the United States Supreme Court with regard to the application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution did not bind her as she was not sitting in a federal court. That was her ruling on the record, I kid you not. While the client did not have the money to appeal this ignorance, I really wanted to appeal it just to hear the First Department's reaction to such a level of ignorance that is a disgrace to the bench. I know that New York Judge's salaries are not the greatest, but if this is what we are left with then our justice system is doomed to fail. Oh, and pack a lunch when you have to appear before her as she has oral argument on every single case on the docket even though she often does not understand the words coming out of the attorneys' mouths, so plan on being there all day long. If you do appear before her, you will note that she often closes her eyes and repeats what the lawyer just said to her as if she is trying to, herself, understand the legal concept before her. Very scary.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY3492
Prior comment that she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer is how I always describe her. Also accurate is the comment that she merely portrays efficiency, when she is quite officious, rigid, unprepared and her decisions are based upon lack of preparation and familiarity, hence typically wrong and unfair as another commentator noted. Doesn't actually listen to ascertain if you are calling her attention to some inconsistency that could be avoided and when she makes a decision resulting in inconsistency, makes it your problem. Not intelligent or prepared enough to be so cowardly and rash.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY3312
Its been 8 years of futility with no end in sight. The comments are on the money. What makes things particularly bad are the fool law secretaries she hires.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY2831
She tries hard but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: NY1979
The comments of others about Judge James are right on the money. It's almost as if she is operating on a different plane. She has no understanding of the most basic legal concepts, and makes snap judgments that are usually wrong and invariably unfair. Frankly, she seems none too bright. I don't know if hers was a politically correct appointment to the bench or what, but she certainly has no business being there.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY1911
Not a competent judge and has no business being on the bench.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY1325
Comment No. NY1255 is quite accurate, assuming the writer meant Judge James. It is very disappointing that Judge James seems to make no effort to involve herself cognitively in the subject matter of the suit at hand, resulting in evidentiary trial rulings which miss widely the mark. She is indecisive, a poor quality for her station, and lacks the confidence to exercise her discretionary powers without demanding citation of authority by counsel, and even then seems incapable of grasping the issue, at times ruling arbitrarily in the end. Judge James projects an image of industriousness and efficiency, however, this all ultimately seems to be a veneer concealing a lack of substance, a lack of organization, and silly officiousness. I believe she is a well-intentioned and sincere person, however, I believe that if she focused more on the substance of the cases before her instead of their bureaucratic management, she might function more effectively.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY1255
Judge Taylor objectively lacks the experience, sophistication and capacity to sit as a judge in the Supreme Court of New York, or any court which handles matters of any meaningful value or complexity. She also does not invest the time or effort in educating herself on the subject matter of issues which come before her in order for a reasoned decision to be made. In short, there is no predicting what will happen with her and no basis to believe that a decision based upon logic or precedent will be forthcoming.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: NY827
Not capable of grasping complex legal arguments.