This is my life shortly after I receive the calendar notice for oral argument: I clean the house, start a new bag of goodies for Goodwill, and tackle tasks that I’ve put off for months. About that time, my patient boyfriend notices I am cleaning all around him and things are disappearing. After a few questions about where is his this or that, he asks, “Do you have an oral argument scheduled?”
Some of my colleagues tell me how much they enjoy oral argument. Should I believe them? If I do, it is not because I can share those feelings. They are foreign to me as that is not my experience. Okay, let me just say it . . . I don’t believe them.
Oral argument is an abnormal event. I am removed from my comfort zone and forced to wear a suit when I would feel much better in pajamas. I have to say nice things, like “Mr. Jones is in error” or “Mrs. Smith overlooked this fact,” when I want to yell out, “My opposing counsel and his/her client are liars, plain and simple.” Except I never say such nasty things, I can only think them. I also try to be informative because I think the Court may need my help. (I am not delusional; I am just using positive affirmations.
It was so refreshing to read Justice Bedsworth’s latest column in the February 2016 issue of the Orange County Lawyer.Seems like he is no fan of oral argument either. He says it is “freaking hard.” He writes:
“The job requires that you understand a half-dozen cases a day well enough to discuss them with people who know them inside out . . . And I not only have to listen to their explications, I have to be satisfied that I understand them well enough to make a decision about their correctness.”
He then writes about attorneys who “throw in something you haven’t heard before – at least not in those terms – and you have to be able to integrate that into the story and challenge it if it doesn’t fit.” Sorry to do that, but I do want to get the Court’s attention. I don’t think it would work if I said the same thing I said in my briefs. And the Court just doesn’t like repetition.
Justice Bedsworth concluded by saying – in a footnote, which is something I try very hard to avoid in briefwriting – that “if you think your arguments are as entertaining as Modern Family, you’re in need of professional help.” Oh, that really does hurt the ego!