After 3 months of COVID-19 “pause,” the NY Court of Appeals has announced a return to hearing oral arguments in the flesh “with appropriate safety protocols.”
We envision them hanging batlike from the ceiling.
A couple of lawfirm biggies applauded the move, declaring that “body language” can get across “points that get lost in written briefs” and that having to argue on video made it “harder to pick up on subtle nuances such as jokes.”
Yes, it’s a little known fact, but prior to COVID-19, oral arguments in the Court of Appeals were occasions of great hilarity. Here’s an example:
Scene: Court of Appeals
Lawyer: It was the negligently installed refrigerator gasket that caused my client to suffer pain, inconvenience, embarrassment, loss of consortium, mental anguish —
Presiding Judge: You mean she blew a gasket? (courtroom explodes with laughter)
Lawyer: Oh, you kid! I pick up that you’ve made a subtly nuanced joke.
Presiding Judge: (wiping the tears from her eyes) But seriously, counselor, I didn’t see anything in the record about a refrigerator gasket. I thought your client was hit by a bus.
Lawyer: I guess that point got lost in the brief. Let me get it across with body language (does a 10-minute interpretive dance).
Judges: Aha, that makes it clear! We unanimously hold for your client.
And who’s the lucky litigant who gets to test out the COA’s new safety protocols next week? The Hon. Paul Senzer, a Long Island village court justice/attorney (village court justices are allowed to practice law so long as they don’t appear in front of themselves).
He’s appealing his removal. Seems he called the opposing party some vivid names in his emails to his client. The client had no problem with his language until he advised her to drop the case. Hell hath no fury like a client scorned. The emails ended up in the hands of the Committee on Judicial Conduct. Which kicked him off the bench. What could he have said to deserve this? Tune in for the next episode!