I’ve done two oral arguments at the revamped Court of Appeals of Virginia, and I have a few more in the pipeline. Some initial thoughts:
- Good vibes. The clerk’s office is (as always) extremely helpful, and the arguments have been very enjoyable. The judges are well-prepared and extremely polite. Both panels freely doled out extra time to give discussions room to breathe, and the judges left the bench to shake hands afterward.
- Better in person. I’ve argued before the CAV remotely during the pandemic and in person since then. The arguments are much more fun (and much easier) in person.
- iPad fun. For longer than I care to remember, Brother Emmert has been teasing me about when I’d start using an iPad for oral arguments. I’ve been reluctant because it’s much easier to navigate paper than pdfs. But are they that much easier to navigate? And how much time do I actually spend flipping through my podium binder at argument? I’ve been using my iPad Pro to read cases and review the record for a while now. So last time out, I finally gave it a shot: I saved the absurd list of lists, outlines, and argument blocks that makes up my podium binder as a pdf, added it to the file, and brought my iPad to court. For folks interested in the details, I used an app called Good Notes. I created a folder for the case, and subfolders for authorities, briefs, and the record. I’d already thoroughly highlighted and annotated those documents, and I bookmarked key pages for easy access. With that very minimal prep, I had no problem navigating the documents at argument, and it was reassuring to have literally every document in the case at hand and word-searchable. That said, I did make a rookie mistake: I did not sit down ahead of time, think about which documents in the record the Court might want to talk about—there weren’t that many (there are never that many!)—and save them separately for easy reference. That probably could have saved me precious seconds at oral argument. So next time around, I will probably make my own, very limited, Joint Appendix file.