Christopher P. Yates

    1. What has been the most difficult decision you have had to make as a judge?
      Whenever my heart pulls me in one direction but my brain pulls me in the other direction, I have to remind myself that I am essentially an umpire charged with calling a consistent strike zone based upon the law. As a result, although I sometimes feel sorry for the losing party in a case, I never allow my heart (or my personal preferences) to dictate the outcome of a case. Therefore, the most difficult decisions I have had to make are rulings that have closed businesses that I like very much, as a consumer or as a member of the community.


    1. Do you have a pet peeve when on the bench?
      I intensely dislike it whenever an attorney tries to run over everybody in the courtroom, including me. Talking over other people is not only rude, but also maddening for court reporters who have to prepare transcripts. Beyond that, an attorney who won’t let me ask questions during oral argument runs the risk of losing the motion simply by failing to take on the weaknesses I’ve detected in the attorney’s position. When I was trained as a young federal prosecutor, every single instructor in the Department of Justice program implored all of us in the training sessions to stop talking and start listening as soon as a judge began to pose a question. That’s the very best advice that I can pass on to the next generation of attorneys.


    1. What was the hardest part of transitioning from law practice to being a judge?
      Other than handing off my files from private practice, I found the transition pretty simple. I began my career serving a law clerk to Chief Judge James Churchill and Judge Ralph Guy, who impressed upon me all of the most important virtues and skills a judge should display. My transition to the bench simply required me to remind myself of those lessons and to try to emulate those two judges in every way possible. I hope that when I’ve made my last ruling and left the bench, I’ll be considered half the judge that they were.


    1. If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
      Without hesitation, I’d choose to be a cat in my own home because my 12-year-old twin daughters love our cats more than life itself.


    1. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
      I’m a bit of an aging athlete, so I’ve had to make the transition from playing competitive tennis and basketball to running distance races for fun. I also enjoy playing tennis with my 12-year-old twin daughters and my wife. The doubles matches sometimes get a little silly, but we always have a great time.


    1. What is your favorite music?
      I like almost every kind of music, and I especially enjoy hearing live music. I attend too many concerts. In the last year, I have seen everyone from Earth Wind & Fire to Jimmy Buffett to our symphony orchestra. I have a tendency to play live music much too loud while I’m driving, and it’s probably inevitable that I’ll someday get a ticket for violating our local noise ordinance.