Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Comedy at the Courthouse.

As an appellate attorney, I get to argue appeals in the various Courts of Appeal in the State. Yesterday, I was honored to appear in the Second District Court of Appeal, which sits in downtown Los Angeles.

Three interesting anecdotes arose from my latest foray into appellate law. Thus, this post begins a three-part series on the experience.

When the matter directly before mine was called, I noticed a gentleman striding to podium wearing black sneakers and black jeans. However, he topped off the ensemble with a suit jacket. Nice touch. He also bore a striking resemblance to Andre 3000 of OutKast.

In any event, he announced he was representing himself. As a "pro per", he gets to try to navigate through the treacherous waters of law and procedure on his own. His opening argument demonstrated the general folly of representing oneself. He took the opposition's "Respondent's Brief." As he arrived at each heading, he would read it, and then pronounce it "moot." He offered no analysis or argument, just a conclusion that it was "moot." This amounted to a pretty standard "pro per" performance.

However, after the Respondent spoke for a few minutes, it returned to "Andre's" turn. One of the justices asked him a question about whether he filed a government claim under the Tort Claims Act. All of a sudden, Andre turned into Perry Mason, or at least Bobby Donnell of the The Practice.

He peppered his remarks with appropriate uses of legalese, such as "causes of action" and adjudications. He spoke of "case law," and the statutory requirements of tort claims filings against government entities. He ultimately turned in an impressive performance. If the issue (and it was hard to tell precisely) was whether "Andre" filed a timely, conforming tort claim, it appears he might actually prevail.

Pretty cool.