Justice Thompson on Effective Oral Arguments: Give a “Different Spin”—And Answer Questions

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
October 28, 2022

Justice David Thompson sets up the oral argument Catch-22:

If the argument wasn’t in your brief, why wasn’t it in your brief?!

If the argument was in your brief, then why are you repeating yourself?!

This is at the heart of what Justice Thompson calls the perennial question about giving an effective oral argument.

In this discussion about oral arguments on appeal, Justic
e Thompson provides the solution: Identify the crux of the case. Try to present it in a slightly different way, putting a slightly different spin, perhaps to disarm the panel.

And be ready to answer any questions.

But don’t regurgitate. And don’t come up with a brand new theory of the case.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 54 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. The full episode is available here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at tkowal@tvalaw.com or (714) 641-1232.