Friday, May 26, 2017

PJ Turner stories

Today's DJ includes My Reflections on Justice Paul Turner, by H&L's Jeremy Rosen, with some anecdotes and reflections. No doubt nearly every SoCal appellate practitioner has stories to share. And now's the time. So raise a glass over this holiday weekend and share those tales. To get you started, here's one:
My very first appellate oral argument before an appellate justice was a law school moot court competition in which Justice Turner was the presiding justice. He asked thoughtful questions that made the experience very enjoyable. On my scoring sheet, he gave me "excellent" ratings: 95s for preparation, presentation, and performance in response to questions, a 98 for verbal skills, and 100 for personal qualities! What a rush! Such praise from a real justice--I can't wait to become a real appellate lawyer. (I never stopped to ponder whether he always gave all students this sort of encouragement.)
Flash forward a few years, and my first oral argument in the California Court of Appeal puts me before none other than PJ Turner, this time in his real day job. I was representing an insurance company in a bad faith coverage case as respondent trying to defend a demurrer sustained without leave to amend. Uh oh. At argument, PJ Turner was still jocular, but not especially inclined to my side. He asks something along the lines of, "Don't we need to give the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt, since this is coming to us just on summary judgment?" Walking into his trap, I correct him and say, "No, Your Honor, this appeal isn't from a summary judgment, it's from a demurrer." He quips back, "Well, isn't that worse?!" Outcome: reversal, of course. But the pleasure of appearing before him remained constant over the years (decades now!) to come. We have lost a legend.
Feel free to submit your own PJ Turner tale to SCAN to publicly share your memories. (But do it quickly! No further extensions will be granted!)

Contributions can be made in Justice Turner's name to the UCLA Jonnson Comprehensive Cancer Center.