the city chicken

once they get a taste for blood….
10 3 2007, 9:35 am
Filed under: moot court

So I had my very first moot court oral argument last night. It was held at the Court of Appeals in the State House – pretty intimidating – a massive, marble building and the room contained only the judges stand, a podium, two tables and a couple of chairs around the tiny room. Not only was it an appropriate setting for an appellate argument, but it really is the setting of appellate arguments!

I have come to the conclusion that I am out of practice. I used to enjoy the nerves of public speaking – the tingling in my stomach immediately before presenting, building the anticipation, and then burning the butterflies to a dust with conviction and confidence as soon as I would open my mouth. But during the competitions in high school, what I actually “said” didn’t really matter – here, if you state something incorrectly, you will be called out on it. And in the real world, you will be held accountable for it! For some reason, that fact has caused me to lack conviction is my words and that is a sure fire crash and burn situation as far as I am concerned.

So I was the first to speak and thus had to give some initial introductions as well as a synopsis of the facts of the case. Basically, that is all I got to do – I was so bombarded with questions that I never really got to give my argument at all and had to supplement my answers to the questions with as much information from my argument as possible. I got fairly good reviews from the judges regarding this whole portion of my presentation. Regardless, it didn’t feel polished to me and I didn’t feel confident giving it – regardless of what the others saw/heard, I know what was coming out was not my best and I’ll be damned if anyone else in the room shows me up on what I consider to be my God given talent.

Well, apparently that pride is what caused my saving grace – the rebuttal. Because the petitioner speaks first, we (my partner and I) have the option of giving a rebuttal after the opposing side has given their argument. We decided that I would be the one to give the rebuttal. I heard my adversary give her argument and it was a lot more polished as far as I was concerned. I didn’t think her answers to questions were better, but she was much more prepared than I was. I listened pretty closely to the questions that the court asked her and specifically picked out the weak points of her argument and I decided to use my rebuttal time as an opportunity to attack.

When her partner gave her argument though is when I really decided it was time to put a nail in this coffin. She was the last to speak and she was super polished – not only had she clearly memorized her argument (which is a good and bad thing) but the answers that she gave to questions came out in a polished tone and form. This just flat pissed me off. (Don’t take me the wrong way – that is how it is SUPPOSED to be – polished and well prepared…. it was my own damn fault for not being as prepared as they were – so congrats to them for clearly taking more time). Either way, I got up there for the rebuttal and most of the nerves were gone – it still wasn’t perfect, and it came out WAYYY too fast (two minutes is just NOT enough time!) but I finally felt like I had some more conviction in my words – I specifically addressed what she had said and attacked it flat out.  In the judges reviews, although they said I spoke way too fast during that whole thing, they thought the rebuttal was otherwise perfect. 

Now I feel like I can get back on the horse – I know I need to prepare much more before the next argument and I need to slow down and put my backbone into it. I have gotten the itch again and I don’t feel intimidated anymore – I feel like it is an opportunity to showcase my talent and to tackle the opponents and I can’t wait for next week!!

Oh – and some really good news — we can take “make up” arguments – sometimes there are spots open because other students have to miss an argument and if your scores on the make ups are better than previous scores, they replace those old ones! I am thinking I will want to go for that option in the coming weeks 😉


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