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Raffi Melkonian @RMFifthCircuit
, 10 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I listened to 14 oral arguments in the Fifth Circuit in the last two days while prepping for my own. Of those 14 appellants, 8 or so of them gave the same kind of bad oral argument, and I thought a quick note about what's wrong with it would be interesting. #appellatetwitter 1/
So what's the bad thing? It's the stream-of-consciousness oral argument - where you sort of recite at great length all your many grievances with the district court, interspersed with the points you're actually trying to make. 2/
So I heard the following question maybe 20 times: "Counsel, the thing you just said? Is that part of the case presented to us?"

And inevitably, the answer was something like "No, your honors, but I'm trying to tell you how this all went so wrong" /3
It's super-confusing to the Court, it doesn't help anything, and ultimately what happens is that you see the panel lean back in their chairs and just let the guy talk.

So, I know most #Appellatetwitter folks would never do this. But I still think there's a lesson here. /4
You're one of many many cases the Court is trying to decide. My own argument - I was #4 in the afternoon, and one of I think 17 cases set for that panel this week. You CANNOT waste their time with anything extraneous. They just don't have the bandwidth for it. /5
So what I'm going to take away from the bad arguments is that I need to pare down my own future arguments even more. Straight to the point. No fluff. Right at what the error was, what I want to happen now, and why the thing the other person said is wrong. /6
There's no room for rhetorical flourishes; background; random thoughts about how the trial went down, what your defendant said about some irrelevant fact. None of it. If you find yourself telling the panel stuff like that, stop it. /e
Notes: Doesn't mean my argument was good - but those were bad. I'm not trying to pile on anyone, this is all about improving our craft and being useful servants of the Court.
An example

"Your honor, my client should have gotten X, and let me tell y'all, she's a good lady, and she's got the trainin' , and can you believe the district judge held X, and of course I didn't think it was worth appealing to Your Honors but that's the long and short of it."
And the thing was, the guy had a killer argument. It seemed to me, and the panel had picked it up, that the judge’s ruling was flawed. But the guy was so invested in his grievances and the lady and whatnot that he couldn’t focus.
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