In our Appellate Panel Tips & Advice three parts series, we provided you with insights on appellate writing here.
At the 2015 Bar Convention, HAWSCT Chief Justice Recktenwald, HAWSCT Justice Pollack, and ICA Chief Judge Nakamura also provided tips and advice on oral argument, including:
- The intensity of OA in and of itself is not significant, rather it is the content of the questions that is important;
- Adjust your answer to the questions being asked – be responsive;
- Always be prepared to deal with a “hot” panel;
- Know the record on appeal cold;
- Be prepared to address weaknesses;
- Be prepared to be flexible enough to answer questions that you may not have anticipated;
- Moot courts are a helpful preparation tool;
- Your script must give way to what is important to the court;
- It is not usually advantageous to start your OA with a factual recitation;
- Let the court know the key issues & emphasize only the critical facts;
- Always anticipate difficult questions;
- Don’t wait for the hard questions – confront those issues head-on;
- Include non-lawyers in practice arguments;
- OA does not usually change the decision in the case (unless the case is a close call), but it may have a more significant impact if the judges go into oral argument with uncertainty about how to resolve the case; and
- OA is often more influential in changing how a judge approaches an issue versus change the outcome.
Part III in our series will focus in a behind the scenes look at the Hawaii appellate courts.