Monday, September 26, 2016

Oral Argument Videos Are Hard to Find

The US Supreme Court does not allow cameras to record oral argument before the court. Audio files are available but are typically too boring for students.  In my experience, students' impression of oral argument is that it is in the form of a well rehearsed and practiced formal speech or presentation.  They don't understand that appellate oral argument is usually just the lawyer being peppered with pointed questions by the judges.  The judges have read the written briefs.  they don't need a re-hash. They want to explore the weak points and the edges of the lawyers' positions.

Thankfully, some state courts allow cameras so that we can show students what an oral argument looks like, instead of only what it sounds like.  The video below shows an oral argument before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the state's highest appellate court.

The video below shows part of the movie re-creation of the Supreme Court argument in the Hustler v. Falwell case:

The video below uses a couple of minutes of the audio recording of the Supreme Court argument in Heien v. North Carolina but the judges are played by adorable dogs:

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