Friday, October 06, 2006

Shaking off tradition

For many years now, at the conclusion of each oral argument at CAAF, the judges have filed off the bench to shake hands with the counsel who just argued before them. The Chief Judge would typically explain that CAAF had borrowed this tradition from the Fourth Circuit. As an advocate before both CAAF and the Fourth Circuit, I had rather enjoyed this tradition. (That is about the only aspect of being an advocate before the Fourth Circuit that I found enjoyable.)

But every tradition -- like grog and flogging on U.S. naval vessels or the Red Sox blowing every available opportunity to win a World Series -- must come to an end. I have received a report that at this year's CAAF orientation for new appellate counsel, court personnel indicated that the judges would no longer come down from the bench to greet counsel after oral arguments.

--Dwight Sullivan


Mary Hall said...

I shall miss the handshake. In my former XO days, I saw that a "well done" from a judge in the "grip and grin" line boosted the confidence of a counsel who had just argued at CAAF for the first time and would certainly be repeated to the family when the counsel called home to relay how their "first time" [at CAAF] had gone. But I'm all for the return of grog before arguments; in fact, opposing counsel can have my ration too!

gene fidell said...

Dispensing with the down-from-the-bench handshakes is more significant as a sign that other things may change at 450 E St. than it is in itself. At the risk of doing violence to the old saw, it's like the first stroke of a clock: it doesn't [necessarily] tell you what time it is, but it does tell you the clock is working. Moral: keep watching.