Bashman: Good morning your honors. May it please the Court. My name is Howard Bashman and I represent the plaintiffs-appellants, Kenneth and Rose Mann, as parents and guardians of Sheldon Mann. With the Court’s permission I’d like to reserve three minutes for rebuttal.
Judge McKee: Sure… This is a real honor. You’re well known to this Court. I don’t think you’ve ever argued before a panel that I’ve been on before. So this is a delight. Not to say that your case has merit or it doesn’t have merit, but it’s nice to see you arguing before a panel that I’m on. Go ahead.
On the other hand — and this is probably less rare, sadly — sometimes an argument starts off worse than the lawyer probably hoped. Take this opening by John Eastman arguing another case the same morning:
Eastman: Good morning your honor.
Judges: Good morning.
Eastman: My name is John Eastman, I’m representing the American Civil Rights Union, the appellant in this case. I want to start off by acknowledging that the National Voter [pause] I’m sorry, go ahead.
Judge Rendell: No, go ahead.
Eastman: [Pause] You’re asking how the slip had, uh, my co-counsel but we had filed the oral argument that I would be arguing.
Judge Rendell: Okay.
Judge McKee: Okay. And you are Mr. Eastman?
Eastman: I am Mr. Eastman, yes. I want to start by acknowledging that the National Voter Registration Act is rather confusing on a whole lotta levels. And …
Judge McKee: I’m not sure it’s all THAT confusing …
Eastman: [raising voice to talk over judge] … well, its its intricate its…
Judge McKee: [continuing] … unless you’re trying to read something into it that’s not there.
Lawyers never know how an argument will go. Sometimes the surprise is a happy one — sometimes not.