Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Huzzah for 15 minutes of fame

In pondering all these comments about oral argument, I feel compelled to confess that I have long wondered, over my Madeira and weevelly biscuit, why CCA's don't embrace more openly CAAF's practice of restricting some oral arguments to 15 minutes per side in cases involving an issue that would lend itself neatly to compact argument. At least two of the CCA's have rules stating that oral arguments will normally be 30 minutes per side, but frankly, some issues just don't warrant "the full monty" (and you, sir, just leave that visual right there - that phrase was around long before the movie made it to America) of an hour's time. Nothing requires either side to use their full 30, but knowing as soon as the oral argument is ordered that it's a 15-minute-per-side hearing would help all concerned to tighten their focus (something The Eye always strives for). The CCA, just like CAAF, can always extend that time through questions should it wish to do so. One commonwealth reportedly expedites its appellate docket by giving attorneys head of the line privileges before lunch in exchange for a 5-minute argument cap. I'd say 5 is too little but, sometimes, 30-per-side may be too much. Let the CCA judges set the clock (not literally, of course; we wouldn't want to take that away from the commissioners). A collateral benefit might be more motions/grants for oral argument. And if the CCA's are already doing this, my apologies - I'm a bit behind the times.

1 comment:

egn said...

I've never noticed NMCCA directing shorter arguments, as CAAF has done. However, they have directed longer arguments in certain cases (there is one that comes to mind in recent memory). In any event, NMCCA has, in my observation, been much more lax than CAAF in allowing counsel to go over time, and extending it through their own questioning, sometimes to well over 40 minutes. This seemed particularly so when the former Senior Judge Price was on the panel, for some reason.