The Appellate Attorney and Oral Argument

Posted on 17 September, 2013 at 13:05

As any appellate attorney knows, one of the last steps in the appellate process, before an appeals court renders a decision, is oral argument. This is the stage of the appeal where appellate justices question both sides as to the merits of their respective arguments. Many people, from the pro se litigant to an experienced trial attorney, misapprehend the purpose of oral argument. This is not a forum to give a speech. 


Within the first few minutes of your argument, the appellate justices will pepper you with a series of questions. You can attempt to cling to your prepared speech (a terrible idea) or you can answer the justices' questions to the best of your abilities and to the benefit of your appellate case. In order for this to be accomplished, the appellate attorney must thoroughly prepare for oral argument. 


An experienced appellate attorney reviews all the papers submitted, does additional research as to whether there has been any developments in the law, and most importantly is prepared to address any weaknesses in not only their opponent's arguments, but also weaknesses in their own case. It is important to remember that both sides to a case have weaknesses - if they did not, there would never have been a trial or an appeal. An experienced appellate attorney is skilled at addressing all these issues, and is experienced at fielding a variety of questions from a panel of appellate justices. 


Remember, oral argument is unlike any trial court argument. The appellate justices come thoroughly prepared and the person arguing before them must be too. Simply rereading the submitted briefs, does not prepare you for oral argument. 


Written by:   Alexandra C. Siskopoulos, Esq.

Telephone:   (646) 942-1798

Email:          [email protected]


Disclaimer: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Categories: Appellate Attorneys

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