January 30, 2018
Court of Appeals Oral Argument
2018, is not off to a good blogging start. But let’s be honest, 2016 and 2017 weren’t either. Just more content.
There was a break from the blog last week due to the fact that instead of writing about the Court of Appeals, I was arguing there. I have tried almost 100 cases to 100 different juries but I have only given one appellate oral argument in my life And it gets even lamer, I was in law school. And my opponent in law school on the day of oral argument came cruising into the parking lot, windows down, blaring “Where the Streets Have No Name.” At that point, it was really over. It was like when they played the Chicago Bulls entrance music back with those teams in the 90’s. I was mentally defeated before it even began. Flash forward about 13 years later and I am doing it again. Called up the big leagues. Well actually, the Supreme Court is the big leagues. So maybe this is like Triple A. But, that would be more akin to Minnesota Supreme Court. This is more like college ball. Division 3. Actually, it is a big deal. A lot of history is in that building and a lot of law has been made there. But not from me. And I had to call ahead to make sure I was going to the right history-making building.
Anytime you step out of your comfort zone you get a little nervous and I built this up to something that it wasn’t. I believed I would have to memorize case names for case law that simultaneously supported and opposed me. Since my case was so fact-driven they did not grill me on case law, but they grilled me nevertheless. A couple of things about the Court of Appeals. The parking lot is tiny. If you are like me, and a lot of litigants are, and currently wearing a walking boot to a metatarsal stress fracture; the parking situation was not ideal. Second, you do not need to bring in your crusty old CORE water bottle. The Court of Appeals provides their own water and has glasses that looked be from the Crate and Barrel. Third, the seating was sparse. I pictured a grand room where tons of interesting spectators sat watching the confluence of brilliant legal minds. A fire marshall would cap the occupancy at 20. After my parents cancelled because of a “car repair,” the only people watching were law clerks. The arguments were made to a 3 judge panel. Fourth, it was way more laid back than I thought. I didn’t get to put my feet on a desk and make my argument while reclined but it was not nearly as formal as I had imagined. They would probably be annoyed by numbered arguments. Fifth, I thought I was being recorded and sadly, only oral arguments for the Supreme Court so my performance will live only in my head. Which is probably fine for everyone. Sixth, the opposing party, the Appellant got carte blanche for his entire 15 minutes. The Justices barely interrupted and when they did, they asked questions that seemed to suggest they agreed with my opinion. You get 15 minutes to make your argument. Both the appellant and the respondent. There is a green light, yellow light, red light set up on the podium. Seventh, I was grilled. They kept on trying to put me in a corner whereby had I agreed with their premise I would have indirectly conceded my argument. But I was slippery and refused to put in a corner like that dancing movie with Patrick Swayze. My sense is from the questions I was asked that I will lose. But you never lose if you try your best. Actually, you still lose.
That was about it. I really enjoyed the experience and a different style of practice. I am used to talking while no one else is talking, which is easier. Here, you are making an argument while fending off tough questions. The Justices will issue an order within 90 days. I will not discuss the facts of my case here as to not to influence any opinion. I can only assume my blog is read by
all none of the Justices, but, in the event that they do read, they will only be influenced by me in my alloted 15 minutes. Not in a poorly edited, lightly read blog. Finally, it is my mom’s birthday. I blogged on her birthday last year and wonder who did she make so angry that allows her to get acknowledged in a blog about case law. So happy birthday mom and thanks to the Court of Appeals for having at 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive or where the streets have no name.