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Shitting Myself … Adventures Before the Ninth Circuit

ninth-circuit.jpgWith the Supremes’ latest term at a close, it should come as little surprise that, yet again, the Ninth Circuit was reversed like a mother fucker. The Supremes absolutely loathe the crazy and wacky decisions that come out of the country’s biggest appellate circuit and, this term, eight of the ten Ninth Circuit cases that came before the Big Court were reversed. Interestingly, it’s not always (stricly) about political lines, as Judge Pamela Rymer had the distinction of being overturned twice this term, despite being a conservative Bush Sr. appointee.

This story serves as the perfect way to make a little confession. See, I’m a pretty even-keeled guy. Little makes me truly nervous or really gets under my skin. But I recently learned that it looks like I’m going to get to argue a pro bono case before the Ninth Circuit in just over a month and I’m not afraid to admit that, while I’m excited as hell about it, it also kind of scares the shit out of me. I’ve argued before federal and state trial courts countless times, and while I get a little of the excited-nerves sometimes, I’m never truly jittery. Just last month, I basically got my ass handed to me for a half-hour by a Magistrate judge, and it was kinda fun more than nerve-wracking or anything else.

But this. I’m doing everything I can to keep my bowels from fucking exploding, man. I know the case and the facts as well as one can. But I think what scares me most is that there’s a ton of relevant case law, and I have a piss-poor fucking memory. And I know that I need to cram as much of this shit into my head as possible, so that I can pull out whatever I need during the oral argument if I have a particularly “hot” bench (that is, one that asks lots of questions).

I’ll try to blog more about the experience over the coming month (or, at least, after the fact), although as busy as I am at work in addition to having to prepare for this oral argument, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for that. Not to mention all the pairs of drawers I’m going to have to clean.

| Comments (3)


I once had a law professor try to justify the fact that the 9th Cir. always gets overturned by saying that the 9th usually *follows* the law, and that cases that get granted cert. are in areas where the Supremes want to change the law.

I don't know if I actually believe that.

And don't worry, I've seen some pretty bad oral arguments at the 9th Cir. As long as you have half a brain, and don't make completely illogical arguments, you'll do fine!

Oooh...appellate argument! Before I left firm life for the nirvana of in-house life, I got to argue a couple of cases in front of the Sixth Circuit. I recommend that you check out your panel ahead of time if you get a chance--I did, and it gave me a chance to see how hot they were, which was reassuring. Plus, I found out just how ill-prepared most of the other attorneys were (including my opponent), and that was an ego-boost.

Anybody who can critically analyze whether I was being a douchebag to my son in law based on where I made the vegan little shit buy me a cheesesteak is gonna kick ass at the appelate court.... Or not