December 3, 2008

"It takes a little more than 10 minutes... for the justices ... to tell the ... lawyer that they had no idea why they agreed to hear this case."

Dahlia Lithwick describes the horribly awkward oral argument in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee.


Beldar said...

The closest I've ever gotten to arguing in the SCOTUS was in the early 1980s, when I was supervising Baker Botts' pro bono litigation and one of our as-yet-unlicensed lawyers had agreed to handle a court-appointed Fifth Circuit appeal under my supervision and bar number. By the time it was ready for argument, he was duly licensed, and so he argued it in New Orleans, and won.

But then the State of Texas sought certiorari, and to our astonishment it was granted. I was sorely, sorely tempted to re-claim the case, but didn't, and instead helped my young colleague get special permission to appear despite his failure to meet the years-in-practice requirement for the SCOTUS bar.

He did indeed argue the case. Six weeks later we got notice that the writ of certiorari had been dismissed, post-argument, as having been improvidently granted.

My colleague was crushed, and thought he'd been denied his rightful place in the U.S. Reports. There was some merit to that, but I told him that he should regard his victory as even more overwhelming than a 9-0 affirmance of his Fifth Circuit win. I don't think I ever quite persuaded him of that, but such is life.

former law student said...

Such a lack of common sense. Kick the little boy off the bus. Make the girl sit in front next to the driver. Put an anti-shoplifting mirror in front, so the driver can see what's happening in the back. Then, stop the bus and make the boy's parents come get him.

(Suggesting that the girl switch to slacks would be "blaming the victim" of course, and thus taboo.)