First Year Oral Arguments

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					First Year Oral
On-brief: Monday, March 8 or
Wednesday, March 10

Off-brief: Monday, March 15 or
Tuesday, March 16

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


    Introduction     Body     Prayer
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

Points of the Argument
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!!
 How did the District Court rule? Why is that
 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
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
   “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 is not a regurgitation of the
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)
 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
 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 . . .

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
 “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
 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
Things to Do

Maintain eye contact
Speak slowly and clearly
Have a conversation with the judges
Advocate for your client
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
  Knowledge & Preparation
  Response to Questions
Final Round

Top 16 students will advance to the final
The final round will take place after Spring
A new problem will be argued
 Supreme Court Day

 Saturday, March 13
Iowa Judicial Building
     10:00 a.m.