May 03, 2004

I owe the Judge and apology from yesterday's post

I said yesterday I expected to appear before a judge who had not read my papers or prepared for oral argument. I anticipated writing today a very cynical post about the failures of the judicial system in NY State Courts. Happily, it didn't turn out that way.

This morning I was before a judge who was prepared, courteous, focused on the issues, asked targeted questions, was polite to counsel (most of the time), and decisive. It was a pleasure. I have no idea how he will rule on the motion to dismiss I put before him, but I am certain he will give the motion his proper attention. This was an example of how a court room should be run. In part, this may have been because we were in the Commercial Division of New York State Supreme Court, which only hears commercial disputes above $150,000. So, he's accustomed to hearing and deciding the special kinds of issues complex corporate litigation presents.

Today was really one of the best parts of my job. I love being at the sharp end of the stick, facing a skeptical judge who's asking hard questions as you try the best you can to respond to his or her questions and make your points and arguments. You feel totally alive because you are completely engaged, both intellectually and emotionally. It is exhilarating and leaves you pretty spent afterwards. The thing is, not only do you have to listen and respond, you have to judge how best to respond. In that, you are an actor. You modulate and change your tone of voice to emphasize points and to capture the interest of the judge. By the way you change your tone, if you do it right, you can silence the entire room. I did that today. I had everyone's attention. I could feel it, almost physically, when I took pauses in my argument. No question, oral advocacy rocks.

Posted by Random Penseur at May 3, 2004 01:19 PM
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