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Thomson West
Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges

by Antonin ScaliaAntonin Scalia
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In their professional lives, courtroom lawyers must do these two things well: speak persuasively and write persuasively. In this noteworthy book, two noted legal writers systematically present every important idea about judicial persuasion in a fresh, entertaining way. The book covers the essentials of sound legal reasoning, including how to develop the syllogism that underlies any argument. From there the authors explain the art of brief writing, especially what to include and what to omit, so that you can induce the judge to focus closely on your arguments. Finally, they show what it takes to succeed in oral argument.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900314184718
Publisher: Thomson West
Publication date: 05/15/2008
Series: Academic Text/Reader
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 245
Product dimensions: 10.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Foreword     xix
Introduction     xxi
General Principles of Argumentation     1
Be sure that the tribunal has jurisdiction     3
Know your audience     5
Know your case     8
Know your adversary's case     10
Pay careful attention to the applicable standard of decision     11
Never overstate your case. Be scrupulously accurate     13
If possible, lead with your strongest argument     14
If you're the first to argue, make your positive case and then preemptively refute in the middle-not at the beginning or end     15
If you're arguing after your opponent, design the order of positive case and refutation to be most effective according to the nature of your opponent's argument     17
Occupy the most defensible terrain     19
Yield indefensible terrain-ostentatiously     20
Take pains to select your best arguments. Concentrate your fire     22
Communicate clearly and concisely     23
Always start with a statement of the main issue before fully stating the facts     25
Appeal not just to rules but to justice and common sense     26
When you must rely on fairness to modify the strict application of the law, identify some jurisprudential maxim thatsupports you     30
Understand that reason is paramount with judges and that overt appeal to their emotions is resented     31
Assume a posture of respectful intellectual equality with the bench     33
Restrain your emotions. And don't accuse     34
Control the semantic playing field     35
Close powerfully-and say explicitly what you think the court should do     37
Legal Reasoning     39
In General
Think syllogistically     41
Statutes, Regulations, Ordinances, Contracts, and the Like
Know the rules of textual interpretation     44
In cases controlled by governing legal texts, always begin with the words of the text to establish the major premise     46
Be prepared to defend your interpretation by resort to legislative history     48
Master the relative weight of precedents     52
Try to find an explicit statement of your major premise in governing or persuasive cases     55
Briefing     57
Appreciate the objective of a brief     59
Preparatory Steps
Strengthen your command of written English     61
Consult the applicable rules of court     64
Set timelines for the stages of your work     66
In cooperation with your opponent, prepare the Joint Appendix      68
The Writing Process
Spend plenty of time simply "getting" your arguments     69
Outline your brief     70
Opening Brief     71
Responding Brief     71
Reply Brief     73
Petition for Discretionary Review     75
Response to a Petition for Discretionary Review     79
Sit down and write. Then revise. Then revise again. Finally, revise     80
Architecture and Strategy
Know how to use and arrange the parts of a brief     82
Questions Presented     83
Statement of Parties in Interest     89
Table of Contents; Table of Authorities     89
Constitutional and Statutory Authorities     90
Statement of Jurisdiction     91
Introduction or Preliminary Statement     91
Proceedings Below     92
Statement of Facts     93
Summary of Argument     97
Argument     98
Conclusion     100
Appendix     101
Advise the court by letter of significant authority arising after you've filed your brief     101
Learn how to use, and how to respond to, amicus briefs     102
Writing Style
Value clarity above all other elements of style      107
Use captioned section headings     108
Use paragraphs intelligently; signpost your arguments     109
To clarify abstract concepts, give examples     111
Make it interesting     112
Banish jargon, hackneyed expressions, and needless Latin     113
Consider using contractions occasionally-or not     114
Avoid acronyms. Use the parties' names     120
Don't overuse italics; don't use bold type except in headings; don't use underlining at all     122
Describe and cite authorities with scrupulous accuracy     123
Cite authorities sparingly     125
Quote authorities more sparingly still     127
Swear off substantive footnotes-or not     129
Consider putting citations in footnotes-or not     132
Make the relevant text readily available to the court     135
Don't spoil your product with poor typography     136
Oral Argument     137
Appreciate the importance of oral argument, and know your objectives     139
Long-Term Preparation
Prepare yourself generally as a public speaker     142
Master the preferred pronunciations of English words, legal terms, and proper names     144
Master the use of the pause     146
Preliminary Decision: Who Will Argue?
Send up the skilled advocate most knowledgeable about the case     147
Avoid splitting the argument between cocounsel     148
Months and Weeks Before Argument
Prepare assiduously     150
Learn the record     151
Learn the cases     152
Decide which parts of your brief you'll cover     153
Be flexible     153
Be absolutely clear on the theory of your case     155
Be absolutely clear on the mandate you seek     156
Organize and index the materials you may need     157
Conduct moot courts     158
Watch some arguments     159
On the eve of argument, check your authorities     160
Before You Speak
Arrive at court plenty early with everything you need     161
Make a good first impression. Dress appropriately and bear yourself with dignity     162
Seat only cocounsel at counsel table     163
Bear in mind that even when you're not on your feet, you're onstage and working     163
Approach the lectern unencumbered; adjust it to your height; stand erect and make eye contact with the court     164
Substance of Argument
Greet the court and, if necessary, introduce yourself     166
Have your opener down pat     167
If you're the appellant, reserve rebuttal time     167
Decide whether it's worth giving the facts and history of the case     168
If you're the appellant, lead with your strength     169
If you're the appellee, take account of what has preceded, clear the underbrush, and then go to your strength     170
Avoid detailed discussion of precedents     171
Focus quickly on crucial text, and tell the court where to find it     172
Don't beat a dead horse. Don't let a dead horse beat you     172
Stop promptly when you're out of time     173
When you have time left, but nothing else useful to say, conclude effectively and gracefully     173
Take account of the special considerations applicable to rebuttal argument     175
Manner of Argument
Look the judges in the eye. Connect     178
Be conversational but not familiar     179
Use correct courtroom terminology     180
Never read an argument; never deliver it from memory except the opener and perhaps the closer     181
Treasure simplicity     182
Don't chew your fingernails     183
Present your argument as truth, not as your opinion     184
Never speak over a judge     184
Never ask how much time you have left     185
Never (or almost never) put any other question to the court     186
Be cautious about humor     186
Don't use visual aids unintelligently     187
Handling Questions
Welcome questions     189
Listen carefully and, if necessary, ask for clarification     191
Never postpone an answer     192
If you don't know, say so. And never give a categorical answer you're unsure of     193
Begin with a "yes" or a "no"     193
Never praise a question     194
Willingly answer hypotheticals     194
After answering, transition back into your argument-smoothly, which means not necessarily at the point where you left it     195
Recognize friendly questions     196
Learn how to handle a difficult judge     196
Beware invited concessions     199
After the Battle
Advise the court of significant new authority     201
If you're unhappy with the ruling, think about filing a motion for reconsideration     201
Learn from your mistakes     205
Plan on developing a reputation for excellence     205
Sources for Inset Quotations     207
Recommended Sources     213
Index     219

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