Nerves and oral argument

DA phones your office at 10pm hoping to get your voice mail. You pick up. Stricken gasp on other end. Hahaahahahahah. Wants to know if you’re going to argue the case. “We’ll kick your ass in court,” is what you don’t say.

Dig out brief for upcoming argument, which you wrote 9 months ago. Can’t remember a thing about it.

Big fat typo on the cover that you never noticed before. You could die, just die.

Turn to Table of Authorities page. Whatever possessed you to cite all those cases? Now you have to read them.

First paragraph completely unintelligible. No wonder nobody reads your briefs. Self-loathing, misery.

Put on glasses and try again. Not so bad, really. Intelligibility isn’t everything. Baudrillard. Derrida. Finnegan’s Wake. Ikea instructions.

Your argument is that your client was deprived of a fair trial because the DA told the jury he was a 3-headed vampire. Totally outside the four corners of the evidence.  Shocks the conscience. A slam dunk win.

Hold nose and read People’s brief. Says DA absolutely did NOT call defendant a 3-headed vampire.

Flip through trial transcript with heart in mouth.  Could entire argument be based on misreading? How embarrassing.  Consider suicide.

Find the page at last. It reads:

DA:  You know what, Ladies and Gentlemen? The defendant is a 3-headed vampire.

Defense counsel: Objection!

Judge: Ladies and gentlemen, what the attorneys say is not evidence. You may continue.

DA: Like I said, the defendant is a 3-headed vampire.

Your blood boils. All DA’s should be subjected to a daily competency hearing to see if they understand the difference between the truth and a lie. You should have written a reply brief. Oh, wait, you did write a reply. Oh wow, you said THAT? Hope it’s a different DA at the argument.

Night before the argument. Have been mumbling “may it please the court” nonstop for 2 days. Can’t sit down. Can’t stand up. Can’t think of opening line.  Can only picture Judge Android sneering, “What’s so prejudicial about calling a criminal a 3-headed vampire?”

Go to bed and dream of having to take bar exam with no clothes on. Wake up with nerves jangling. It’s 3 a.m.

Overwhelmed by meaninglessness of indifferent Universe, wasted life, existential despair.  Only solution is ice cream. Put on shoes and walk 2 blocks to 24-hour bodega. Insert money through bulletproof window. Akbar gives you Cherry Garcia. Looks furry but that’s all they have.

Go back to bed. Wake up at dawn feeling fresh as daisy although mirror doesn’t reflect this. Find melted Cherry Garcia all over brief, DA’s brief and cases you still haven’t read. Despair.

Get on subway at height of ironically-named rush hour.  Takes twice as long as any other time. Read ads for career as parking lot attendant. Copy down number.

Get to office, decide to practice argument by explaining case to somebody who knows nothing about it, just like in court. Janitor would be best but she only works at night.

Buttonhole supportive colleague and explain case. Supportive colleague sees nothing wrong with DA calling client a 3-headed vampire.  Explain that client charged with biting complainant’s throat. Supportive colleague says court hasn’t reversed conviction for prejudicial remarks by DA since 1974.

Look up in NYLJ what judges will be on today’s panel. Court never announces panel in advance, supposedly to prevent “judge shopping.” Panel consists of Judges Android, Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy and Grumpy. They should have a returns department.

Walk to court through park. Officer at courthouse door points to pigeon droppings on shoulder of your black suit. Much hilarity. Water on paper towel just spreads it around. Next person who says it’s good luck gets it in the beezer.

Roll call. You’re number 17 on the calendar. Ten no-shows but Judge Android still whines about how everybody has to cut their argument time or we’ll be there past 5 o’clock. Big flipping deal.

He gives you 4 minutes.

No sleep and no breakfast suddenly catch up.  Start nodding off during complex divorce case.

Your case is called. Soul leaves body and hovers over podium.  A luminous glow and visions of the dead.  It’s the light signalling that your time is up and Judge Android sneering, “What’s so prejudicial about calling a criminal a 3-headed vampire?”

Come up with brilliant answer on subway back to office.


About Appellate Squawk

A satirical blog for criminal defense lawyers and their friends who won't give up without a squawk.
This entry was posted in Criminal law, Law & Parody and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Nerves and oral argument

  1. Victoria Nelson says:

    This is a classic.


  2. Kathleen Casey says:

    Seems normal to me. Something wrong, Squawk?


  3. Kathleen Casey says:

    It’s 50 miles to the 4th Dept. and so out here we drive. So I jerked awake in the middle of last night from a dream. I’m on Route 31 heading to an argument and decide to pull over onto the shoulder to prepare because it occurs to me that I haven’t read the stuff in months. Two cops walk up to my passenger side, the window is open, and one leans in and asks, “you all right ma’am?” and the other one says “aw it’s her again, don’t worry about her.” Then I wake up.

    WT…You did that Squawk. Yes, you.


  4. OMG! We’re trying to cause nightmares to judges and DA’s, not fellow squawks! Lucky you weren’t making furtive movements, grabbing at your waistband or acting nervous and fidgety. Better dreams tonight!


    • Kathleen Casey says:

      Hope it doesn’t come back. If it does I hope I stay smart and keep my hands in plain view. Hope I don’t consent to a vehicle search! Hope it doesn’t go farther to a panel silent and immobile as Mount Rushmore for ten minutes and then one of them offering, “we understand your argument counselor,” meaning “siddown!”


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