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First Year Oral Arguments. On-brief: Monday, March 8 or Wednesday, March 10 Off-brief: Monday, March 15 or Tuesday, March 16. Procedure. 10 minutes per person Appellants go first then the Appellees 1 rebuttal for the Appellants 20 minutes for feedback. Procedure. Dress Professionally

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Presentation Transcript
  • 10 minutes per person
  • Appellants go first then the Appellees
  • 1 rebuttal for the Appellants
  • 20 minutes for feedback
  • Dress Professionally
  • Check-in 15 minutes before argument at table across from mailboxes
  • Wait outside room until you are called in
  • Write name on board
  • Sit down until judges are ready
  • Begin each argument/rebuttal with “May it please the Court?”
    • This is a question, wait for the answer
  • Introduce yourself and co-counsel and who you represent
  • Reserve rebuttal time if Appellant
  • Tell the Court what the issues are and what you want them to do
  • Facts
  • Roadmap
  • Points of the Argument
so many facts so little time
So many facts, so little time . . .
  • State the facts from the perspective of your client.
  • Create a BRIEF story, if possible (30 seconds or less)
  • Know where you are going to go if the judges interrupt you
don t forget procedure
Don’t forget PROCEDURE!!
  • How did the District Court rule? Why is that important?
  • Consider a brief procedural statement (i.e. “the District Court granted summary judgment in the government’s favor, concluding as a matter of law that the agent’s handling of the luggage did not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment”
you have issues
You have issues
  • Try to use positive language to state the issues from your client’s perspective
  • Integrate your facts into the issue statement.
  • Compare:
    • “The issue before the court is whether a state must accord full faith and credit to another states adoption decree when the adoption violates a fundamental public policy of the state in which recognition is sought.”
    • “Ms. Wright contends that North Carolina’s fundamental policy against recognizing homosexual relationships negates its obligation to accord full faith and credit to the Winston adoption decree”
the argument
The Argument
  • The argument is not a regurgitation of the brief.
  • A good oral argument will have the structure of a logical proof.
    • Premise: If A is true, then B is true
    • Premise: A is true
    • Conclusion: B is true
the argument continued
The Argument (Continued)
  • An effective oral argument is based on ideas and principles. It uses law and legal doctrine to illustrate those ideas. Use the law to illustrate your point. Don’t let the law become your point.
  • Finish your arguments. Draw the Conclusion. Don’t make a great point and leave the judge wondering why it matters.
    • Two questions: “Why is that true?” and “If it is true, so what?”
prayer conclusion
  • Don’t use “Wherefore”
  • Last chance to tell the Court what you want it to do and why
    • Be strong
    • Be concise
    • Be brief
    • Last sentence out of your mouth should either start or end with “the lower courts order should be affirmed/reversed” (but not both)
when time goes by
When Time Goes By . . .
  • The Cardinal Rule: After time has expired, you may only continue to speak with the permission of the Judges.
  • When you see that time has expired, conclude your thought in the briefest manner possible
the litany
The Litany
  • “Your Honor, I see my time has expired . .”
    • “ . . . We respectfully request you reverse/affirm the court below”
    • “ . . .may I have a brief moment to conclude” (If granted, anything more than 10 seconds is not a “brief moment”)
    • “ . . . May I address your honor’s question and have a brief moment to conclude.” (Use when Judge’s question runs into the end of your time)
  • 1 to 3 minutes (reserved at the beginning)
  • Judges can ask questions
  • You probably only have time to make one strong argument, so choose wisely.
  • Rebut the Appellees’ strongest points
    • Listen to what the judges are questioning the Appellees’ about, and answer those questions from your perspective
    • Point out why the Appellees’ argument leads to bad results or constitutes bad policy
    • If Appellee relies heavily on one or two particular cases, distinguish those cases and explain why the appellees “reliance is misplaced
questions from the judges
Questions From the Judges
  • Answer directly (“Yes, your honor” or “No, your honor) even if you plan a qualified answer
  • Never interrupt, even when a long-winded judge is stealing your time. It happens.
  • If a judge’s question isn’t clear to you, try restating it back to them in your own words.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be cross-examined by the judge.
things to do
Things to Do
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Breathe
  • Have a conversation with the judges
  • Advocate for your client
things not to do
Things NOT to Do
  • Play with your clothes, hair, or pen
  • Pace or shift weight
  • Clutch the podium
  • Say “I believe”, “We believe”, “I think”, or “We think”
  • Count Circuits
  • 100 possible points
  • 4 categories
    • Presentation Style
    • Argument
    • Knowledge & Preparation
    • Response to Questions
final round
Final Round
  • Top 16 students will advance to the final round
  • The final round will take place after Spring Break
  • A new problem will be argued
supreme court day competition
Supreme Court Day Competition

Saturday, March 13

Iowa Judicial Building

10:00 a.m.