Friday, April 1, 2016

*New Oral Argument Rules* + CJP report today + Beds' latest

Image result for april fools dayIn preparation for live-steaming oral arguments in the Court of Appeal, new rule 8.675(309) (rev. April 1) provides that oral argument advocates must begin their presentations in verse or song ("rap" is acceptable) encapsulating their theory of their case and the relief requested. (Haikus are allowed only for single issue cases.) Said one PJ, "oral argument can be so boring; we're entitled to more entertainment." Another explained, "we're taking a page from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. And the musical Hamilton shows that the Federalist Papers are more palatable in rap recitation with a funky backbeat, so that approach should improve oral arguments on appeal as well." One PJ, musing that the new rule may prompt more argument waivers, noted that "this may pare down oral advocates to the most daring and creative of the bar. Perhaps a specialty bar will develop, similar to the esteemed U.S. Supreme Court all stars." A rejected proposal would have required questions to be answered in either rhyming couplet or iambic pentameter. Again, the thinking was that placing such a premium on careful wording would improve the quality of thoughtful responses. Questioning from the bench may continue to be in koan form. Other features of the new rule include:

  • Counsel grandstanding with jury arguments to impress clients may be interrupted by any justice using a slide whistle, followed by an involuntary and forceful return to counsel's table by the courtroom deputy's use of a hooked cane.
  • Counsel misconstruing a softball question for a fastball may be signaled by the justice to the PJ's right (aka the third base line), who shall make two tugs of the right earlobe with the right hand, followed by a horizontal swipe across the robe with right hand starting at the left shoulder.
  • Further embarrassment of counsel who have been traduced down the slippery slope by creative questioning into espousing absurdities may be cut short by the junior justice, who may elect to activate a prerecorded two-second laugh track.
  • Counsel addressing an appellate panel as "you guys" (or similar phrasing) shall forfeit any cell phones or electronics deposited with courtroom security. Confiscated items will thereafter be donated to a worthy charity selected by a majority of the panel.
See also; Law360 offers No Joke: 5 Strange But True Cases for April Fools'

If you're more into horror stories than jokes, then don't miss the Annual Report from the Commission on Judicial Performance, released today. Tales of woe begin at page 15. (And special thanks is given to Justices Butz, Chaney, Haller, and Pollak, who served as special masters in commission matters in 2015; and note that Justice Ruvolo is on the Commission.)

May it please the court,
We are here to say,
That reversal is the outcome,
For the judgment today.
The reasons below
Are obtuse and blurred;
It seems rather clear,
The trial court has erred.

Respondent submits
The standard of review
Leaves this Court with options only
Meagre and few.
No matter how hard
Appellant may squirm,
The proper course, of course,
Is to affirm.

If that sort of blawggerel doesn't float your boat, and you want tried-and-true appellate humor, Beds is here to the rescue: His April 2016 OC Lawyer piece A Most Dangerous Game is here. And it covers appellate judging, state and federal, so don't miss it. Noting how being an appellate justice is "isolative"--being "locked in Rapunzel’s tower with a professional universe of seven colleagues and a couple dozen of our handlers"--he analogizes being "stuck" with his colleagues as something like "some kind of bizarre version of Swiss Family Robinson Meets The Odd Couple."