Judge Facciola: A Better Man Than He Is A Judge

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola of the District of Columbia will retire this year and his retirement has been noted in several publications, including the National Law Journal.  He’s a well known, even iconic, figure in eDiscovery circles and I won’t repeat here a list of his many accomplishments.

I’d like to comment instead on what a good person he is.  Bill Russell once said of Larry Bird, “he’s a better person than he is a basketball player” and I think the same thing is true of Judge Facciola.

I used this picture of him in some presentations I gave. Its purpose was to show that judges are your allies and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them. It seems very fitting now.


I was able to spend a good amount of time with him over the years when I was asked by Craig Ball to join the faculty (in a very small role I might add ) at the Georgetown U EDiscovery Training Academy.

It was there I discovered that Judge Facciola attended Holy Cross as an undergraduate so he could properly pronounce the name of the cty of Woosta.  And he loved baseball. And Bruce.

He loved telling stories ….. my favorite is his introduction at a family reunion in New York.  “And this is John. He’s a f&^%#in judge!!”

He loved hats. And then we really bonded.


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He really really liked people. Every day at the GT EDTA he would walk to the cafeteria and sit down for lunch with the students  Every day.

And one day after classes he would take everyone on a tour of his courthouse with story after story, like the time John Connolly was on trial (in front of another judge) and called some character witnesses. Like Lady Bird Johnson and Billy Graham.  When asked what he did for a living, Reverend Graham replied “I preach the word of the Lord Jesus Christ to the nations of the earth.” At which point several jurors audibly replied “Amen”

The judge mercifully allowed the jury to take a lunch break so their verdict wouldn’t come in within 30 minutes of being discharged.

And of course, the tour always closed outside the doors at Monica Beach. I won’t spoil that story by telling it here. You’ll have to ask the Judge next time you see him.








Because he is going to keep on teaching and lecturing so we won’t lose his voice or his viewpoint or his compassion. Because this Judge wasn’t all about eDiscovery.  He bemoaned the loss of privacy in our digital age. He spoke out against the growing number of citizens who didn’t have access to the judicial process.  He loved food and art and good books.

And yes, I know, he likes his friends to call him Facc.  But I just cant do it: I’m an old school  New England Irishman who thinks that people who earned the right to be called Judge deserve to be called judge. mostly he liked people. Maybe it’s my Catlic education: somewhere I feel a nun hovering over my shoulder with a ruler just waiting to crack me on the knuckles …. with the metal edge …. if I don’t show respect.

So like the Boss said:

You might need somethin’ to hold on to
When all the answers they don’t amount to much
Somebody that you can just talk to
And a little of that human touch

And that’s what I’ll miss about him in the courtroom.  The human touch.



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