Hon. James Orenstein See Rating Details
Magistrate Judge See Comments
E.D.N.Y.  
Average Rating:4.4 - 56 rating(s)
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Ratings

*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=Chronic`y Late,10=Always on Time)
*Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation:    (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
*Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation:   (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Flexibility In Scheduling   (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Pre-Trial:   (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Civil Settlement Discussions:   (1=Least Involved,10=Most Involved)
  Items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating
Comments



What others have said about Hon. James Orenstein


Comments


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21810
Rating:4.2
Comments:
Reappointed seemingly in the dead of night after a special "merit panel" was appointed to paper over the widespread dissatisfaction with him among EDNY practitioners. Months went by between the end of his first term and the start of his second one yet he remained on the "bench".

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21513
Rating:8.7
Comments:
He is smart and well-prepared, and he expects the same from attorneys. He does not gladly suffer fools or attorneys that do not give straight answers. If you are ready, straightforward and pragmatic, you will find him an excellent jurist.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 20723
Rating:4.5
Comments:
One of the worst on the bench. This judge is incredibly nasty, unprofessional and short-tempered. The best thing that one can say about him is that he treats everyone so poorly that he is not biased.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 20683
Rating:8.7
Comments:
I have had a great deal of interaction with him in the last year over one case and, unlike the other commenters, I have found him to be insightful and conscientious. (I hope that is not just because I have been winning the case.)

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 20014
Rating:2.2
Comments:
Yes, it seems to be settled - he's awful. One of the poorest judicial temperaments I've seen. And to top it off, he's not terribly intelligent. He's not stupid mind you, he's just average in intelligence for attorneys. He seems to very much enjoy bullying the lawyers before him, though he is an equal opportunity bully, bullying both sides equally. His decisions have been for me sometimes and against me sometimes, but often bad on the law. He is one of those judges who encourages discovery motions which are weak on the law and really shouldn't be made, because you know he might grant them based on his personal biases.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 18697
Rating:5.4
Comments:
Very concerned with being the smartest man in the room. Interjects himself into issues that the parties do not have (just to show us how smart he is and to argue with lawyers) rather than just setting schedules as a judge's helper should. He seems to forget that he's just a magistrate.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18600
Rating:8.8
Comments:
As plaintiff's counsel, I dont see a basis for any of the complaints against this judge in this robing room. What I do see is. . . if you are late on any of his deadlines. . .God help you. He hates it when people give excuses. He really moves cases . . . complex cases at that. . . effortlessly. His knife at cutting through bullshit is the sharpest out there. I've had him on several cases with differing outcomes. With this judge, come prepared, on time, and armed with facts of your case. . . .or expect a judicial spanking.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 18353
Rating:2.4
Comments:
Smartest man in the room complex. Terrible to civil rights plaintiffs attorneys (or any anti-government litigants). Routinely creates his own version of the facts of the case and tells the attorneys what happened. An embarrassment to the Eastern District.

Other

Comment #: 12596
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Other commenters have mentioned it before. He does not suffer fools. I congratulate him on wanting to move cases along and not get them mired in the system. I only wish there were more judges like him.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 12267
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Sadly, our language skills are not sufficiently evolved to describe a judicial officer who is this mean spirited, this clueless, this divisive, this cunning, this arrogant or this useless...maybe can can settle cases because nobody wants to appear before him twice...should be removed!

Other

Comment #: 12129
Rating:1.0
Comments:
His cluelessness about how to understand filings and apply law (as evidenced by the frequent rejections of his recommendations) is complemented by his boundless pomposity, arrogance and general nastiness to create a menace who is an embarrassment to the office he holds.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 10510
Rating:2.8
Comments:
Nasty, uneven, unpredictable, cannot hide his distaste for a party or their position, academically bright but neither sensible,creative nor fair ... a schoolyard bully in the worst way imaginable ...

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 10246
Rating:2.5
Comments:
This man is a discrace to the bar and the bench. Any commentor who thought he was smart clearly is an idiot themselves. One of the dumbest morons to ever sit on the bench anywhere. I would have had an easier time adressing legal issues with my dog. He also strong armed one of my client's by threatening him that "Jamie" would be ordering him to pay the defendants sanctions and attorney's fees if he lost(the client was indigent by the way), which is utterly absurd and would be apparent to any judge who even bothered to read Circuit and Supreme Court precedent with respect to that issue. I agree with another commentor, to put it plainly if he was not a judge and spoke to anyone like that he would get knocked out. He must have tossed some major salad get appointed, biggest mistake EDNY ever made.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9971
Rating:5.2
Comments:
All issues are black and white. You're not merely the person with the weaker (in his view) argument--you're a borderline criminal. Threats permeate the entire experience. The word is that is former AUSA colleagues are trying to engineer an "intervention" of some sort in light of his universally dreadful reputation and all the bridges he's burned with the bar. Probably too little, too late if it ever happens.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9783
Rating:4.3
Comments:
Words don't describe him well enough. Intelligent? Probably. Smart? No. He screamed so much, I was this close to making sure the preceedings were audibly recorded and was going to demand a copy be sent to the administrative judge. If he were an adversary rather than a Magistrate, I would have dropped him like a bad habit. The man just doesn't get it.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9641
Rating:1.0
Comments:
The negative comments posted about this judge barely begin to describe his lack of judicial temperament. Appearing before him is a dreadful experience that tests lawyers' ability to hold back responsive comments to him out of deference to the judicial post that he disgraces.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9622
Rating:2.3
Comments:
This is probably the worst judge I have ever had the misfortune to have on a case. I agree with all the comments as to his bias and arrogance and that he is totally unprofessional in his handling of cases. He does not want to hear any arguments which disagree with his point and has no concept of how litigation actually works. He is offensive and insulting also.
I certainly would never try a case before this judge and hope that I can avoid him at all costs.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 9501
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Utterly unprofessional...bordering on hysterical...subject to outbursts that are as unpredictable as they irrational and abusive...offers no assistance to litigants in civil or criminal cases...almost better to settle than subject ones client to his brand of abuse. what an embarrassment and a stain on the bar of the EDNY.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9428
Rating:2.0
Comments:
disrespectful to counsel, picks needless arguments, generally worthless.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9309
Rating:5.8
Comments:
Besides his tendency to pick a "loser" each day who will be the victim of fairly random, utterly unprofessional abuse, this judge shows reams of book learning while unknowingly demonstrating a real lack of hands-on experience in how civil litigation actually happens.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9039
Rating:5.3
Comments:
Agree with the majority of the reviewers re his temperament - not suited for the bench.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 8907
Rating:6.7
Comments:
Unnecessarily hostile toward counsel. He was a top prosecutor and treats attorneys like suspected criminals. He is very smart and most of the time gets it right. He also was very helpful in settling a case.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 8606
Rating:9.5
Comments:
He is skilled at narrowing the issues and cutting through the bs. He does not suffer fools (or those who have not met their discovery obligations). He is one of the smartest judges I have appeared before but I am careful to not irk him.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 8605
Rating:5.0
Comments:
Note to # 8269
: He is not that young. I think he looks to be about mid to late 40s. Like, the age of our President but considerably less mature.

I think he's smart, but arrogant and his arrogance omes through fairly often. He is not pleasant or good humored and clearly favors the Govt. in criminal matters.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 8269
Rating:7.6
Comments:
He was well-prepared and absolutely on top of the issues, and he let my adversary know that he saw right through the baloney that had, until this judge got involved, been floating through the judicial system for nearly a year. It was a pleasure to behold, for a change, a judge who has done his homework on a case before coming out on the bench. He completely "got it."

He is very young, however, and while that is hardly his fault, it was particularly unpleasant to watch him rather gratuitously "bench slap" my 60-plus-year-old adversary for "talking over [him]," which the lawyer really had not done any more than is typical in an animated conversation. When the man tried gracefully to apologize, the judge smacked him again on the way out. This was really unnecessary and even made me feel uncomfortable -- it took away some of the joy I was experiencing from how thoroughly he was communicating the actually deserved impatience for the other side's baloney litigation posture. That passed, of course.

On the whole, I am looking forward to working with Judge Orenstein and wish there were a lot more like him, notwithstanding the harshness -- I would still take him over a Jed Rakoff in a heartbeat -- but I will certainly be on my best behavior.

Well, one more thing. I would say that if a judge is going to smack around attorneys solely on the strength of being the guy with the gavel, he would probably do well to bother putting on a robe so as to endow his post with the dignity and authority from which he is drawing so generously.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 7835
Rating:2.8
Comments:
In ten years of practicing law I have yet to come across a more arrogant, nasty and downright rude jurist. Even-handed in the sense that he was all of the above to both plaintiff and defendant.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5328
Rating:8.7
Comments:
A great judge. Even-handed and he knew the law. You should only come at him with the facts. At times he was even humorous.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5095
Rating:1.8
Comments:
He is gratuitously nasty and petulant. Don't confuse him with the facts; his mind is made up.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5081
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Nasty and disrespectful. A first class jerk.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5060
Rating:8.2
Comments:
Not the finest judicial temper that I've seen, but I can't agree with all of the negative comments below. Aside from cutting my adversary off a few times in a discovery conference, Judge Orenstein seemed intelligent, granted our repeated requests for extensions, managed a couple of discovery motions well (I won both, so maybe I'm biased) and was pleasant, if a bit pushy, in settlement talks. He seemed really keen on having the case settle (which it did), and stuck around for hours after the conference was scheduled to be over, probably to wear us down (it worked). Definitely better than most of the SDNY MJ's I've appeared before.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 4567
Rating:3.7
Comments:
Very arrogant. Also very one sided.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4197
Rating:9.0
Comments:
I have had several (civil) matters with Magistrate Orenstein. He is intelligent, hard-working, shows good judgment, and is able to grasp issues quickly. He is rational and predictable, that is, you will win on the issues you should win on and lose on the issues you should lose on. As others have noted, however, he does not suffer fools gladly, however. He has a bit of a temper and can be condescending to counsel who are late, unprepared or are making stupid arguments. He is very conscious about moving cases, and will give you a hard time if you ask for an extension of a discovery deadline. A little more understanding of the difficulties of attorneys in private practice would be helpful. He has a procedure at the end of discovery where he has both sides submit ex parte letters re settlement. If the parties are far apart he does not push settlement. Overall, he is an excellent judge. If you do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it, you'll be fine.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3785
Rating:3.8
Comments:
I have to say Comment #3772 puts me off a bit... the implication being that those who have reported unfavorably on this judge are not "top notch counsel" -- unlike presumably the author of comment #3772. All righty then.

Judge Orenstein is undoubtedly intelligent, but has a very poor judicial temperament. He came across as arrogant, rude, impatient, and disrespectful to counsel, was a poor listener, and in our settlement discussions he was pretty much checked out.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3772
Rating:9.2
Comments:
I find most of the comments here surprising, as I'm involved in a very complex case before him, and my several colleagues on the case could not think more highly of him. It could be that he's putting on his best face for us because it's a high-profile case, with top-notch counsel on both sides. But I also suspect several commenters here have been put off by his absolute intolerance for waste and BS of any kind -- which I think is great.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3673
Rating:2.2
Comments:
Smarmy little bastard . . . I guess he figures that he craps tiffany cufflinks because of his minute role in the conviction of John Gotti [although if you look at all the pictures in his chambers, you'd think he was the lead prosecutor in the case].

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3582
Rating:3.2
Comments:
Comment # 3239 describes perfectly. Acts like all cases are beneath him.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 3239
Rating:3.0
Comments:
Condescending and somewhat mercurial. Not helpful in settlement discussions. Asks for your position and then cuts you off before you can complete a sentence.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 3225
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Hideous and arrogant... I yelled at him, he yelled back... it was a picnic. Avoid this man at all costs. What a nightmare.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3151
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Hmmmm, I wonder why the poster of Comment # 3120 chose the "Other" category. Maybe because "lying buttkisser" isn't available. Anyhow, the best I can say for this nasty, nasty man is that he sort of seems to enjoy it when you yell back at him.

Other

Comment #: 3120
Rating:8.0
Comments:
One of the best of the best. I understand that some people don't like him, but that's probably because he's tough but fair, and these people apparently came out at the wrong end of a fair and just judgment. Sour grapes if you ask me. This is a tough job; one that requires artful integration of steely judgement, legal knowledge, and compassion. Judge Orenstien does this as well as anyone, and we all benefit from his work. We need more judges like him!

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 3057
Rating:2.0
Comments:
He is possibly the most unpleasant judge I have ever appeared before. He looks like he's 12 years old and I think he overcompensates for that. A nasty, nasty man.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 2970
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Extremely arrogant and disrespectful to attorneys.