Friday, August 19, 2005

My big day in court

Kind of. Today there will be a hearing for the case for which I wrote my first opinion for the Judge. (Hmm, that's a lot of "for"s in one sentence.) It should be exciting! I am interested in seeing what these people look like and how they present themselves before the court.

The hearing itself shouldn't be too big a deal; it will probably be a pre-discovery type of meeting to lay out what kind of depositions both sides want, what evidence they want produced, etc. And there is only one live issue remaining in the case, anyway--the other two issues got dismissed in the opinion I wrote.

But I'm interested in listening to what the attorneys have to say because . . . well, let's just say that the contrast in the quality of the briefing of both sides is very stark. One side provides solid, regular briefing--nothing stellar, but perfectly acceptable--but it looks like Shakespeare compared to the other side. Seeing the attorneys talk in person should be an interesting experience, to say the least.

And already today I've gotten a good look at some exceptional lawyering; this morning the Judge heard an insurance fraud case. Now, it helped that the defendant (the insurance company, who was counterclaiming for the fraud) had a more or less slam-dunk case, but the lead defense attorney did a great job of presenting all the elements of her argument neatly and succinctly. There was no rambling, as I've seen before both in this case and in others; no hemming or hawing; no reading off notes. She did a great job, and it was also clear from one of the depositions she took of the plaintiff (the person who committed fraud) that she had anticipated future arguments the plaintiff would make in this very hearing. The attorney deliberately asked questions to get testimony from the plaintiff that would shut down each of those arguments. All in all, it was a super job, the best lawyering I've seen so far at the courthouse. I'll qualify that statement to point out that I haven't seen lots of lawyering yet, but that still shouldn't diminish the fact that she did a good job.

We'll see if the attorneys in my case can do half as good a job this afternoon!


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