Law Religion Culture Review

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Any Question?, Part I.

I argued in an appellate court last week.

My client was the appellant, so I went first. At the conclusion of my sub-five minute presentation, I inquired if the panel had any question.

None. At this point, I was unsure what this meant. Based on past experience, that silence could equate to a 3-0 win or a 3-0 loss.

However, seconds into my opponent's presentation the picture became clear. He managed to get a sentence out and then the barrage began.

These weren't really questions, but declarative sentences emanating from the bench.

Sometimes an appellate court's questions can be subject to interpretation, such as the question, "How would you reconcile these two cases?", could turn either way. These weren't like those. For example, my opponent fielded a query to the effect of "That interpretation is 'illogical' isn't it?"

Nice choice of words since I used that word advisedly in my brief and presentation about the opposition's interpretation. Another justice weighed in similarly: "That doesn't make any sense? Why would anyone do that?" Opponent's response: "I don't know."

When it came back to me for any rebuttal, the well-worn saw about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory came to mind. Since it appeared my work here was done, I decided to save my witty repartee for another time, and simply remarked, "I'm confident the Court has a firm grasp of the issues", and submitted the matter for decision.