Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court PBS Newshour had a piece recently about oral argument at the Supreme Court in which they made the mistake of presenting the release of oral argument tapes as something relatively new. What might be said to be new is that more are being released immediately. They all are released eventually through the Oyez Project (all of the 2005 term is now available). But if you ignore this misinformation, the report does give a good picture of the nature of oral arguments at the Court and the fact that they are punctured constantly by questions. Several different types are described and you can hear the justices asking them. Streaming video, streaming audio or .mp3, transcript available. In an interesting development, Chief Justice John Roberts, answering questions after a speech he gave recently at Northwestern Law School, gives his advice to lawyers about how to improve their chances of success before the Court - in their briefs and at oral argument. You can listen to the speech on C-Span's American and the Courts, available here for at least another month. The advice begins at 50:50 min. The key to success, if you don't want to hear it directly from Justice Roberts, is empathic argument.