Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Who's Hearing Your Appeal?

Most federal courts let attorneys know in advance of argument which judges will be on the panel. However, the 4th, 7th, and Federal Circuits do not. Howard Bashman at Law.com discusses the issue: Who's on the Argument Panel: Why Ignorance Isn't Bliss, Law.com, April 3, 2006.

Reasons to announce the panels in advance:

  • attorneys can prepare, tailoring their arguments to what they know about the judges' preferences, past opinions, and so on;
  • with advance notice, attorneys who seldom argue in a circuit are at less of a disadvantage to the attorneys who often appear before the circuit's judges;
  • attorneys can also investigate possible grounds to seek recusal.
On the other side, some suggest that lawyers who know which judges they will face will pander to them. In addition, some lawyers might try to get the argument postponed in hopes of getting a panel perceived to be more favorable.

Bashman thinks the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages (which can be addressed in other ways) and encourages courts to disclose.

Here in Washington, the panels are included in the Court of Appeals dockets. When I checked today, I could see the panels for arguments as far out as June 14 (Div. 1), July 10 (Div. 2), June 21 (Div. 3). (For dockets, follow the links here.)

Filed in: , ,

No comments: