Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On arguing the Blacksburg sewer case

The Roanoke Times had this piece on the thrill for the lawyers who argued the Blacksburg sewer case before the Virginia Supreme Court last week.

It says in part:

"Win or lose, arguing a case before the state Supreme Court is both exhilarating and nerve-racking for attorneys on both sides.

After a hearing Thursday in Richmond that could reignite debate over public utilities in Blacksburg and set a new precedent for enforcing Virginia annexation agreements, Blacksburg Town Attorney Larry Spencer and his opposing counsel Darrel Tillar Mason were slightly nonplussed.

. . .

For Mason, it was stressful to condense folders full of legal wrangling into a 15-minute oral argument in front of seven sharp legal minds who sometimes pepper attorneys with adversarial questions.

"If you're not nervous, something is wrong with you," Mason said minutes after the hearing.

Attorneys arguing other cases before the court Thursday had to apologize to the justices for various gaffes.

One lawyer presented arguments to the court that he hadn't included in his brief. Justices chastised him for exerting an unfair advantage over his opposing counsel.

Another attorney was so flustered after an eight-block sprint to get to the court on time that he had trouble answering questions from the bench. Chief Justice Leroy Hassell showed mercy, giving the attorney 60 extra seconds to address them.

Still, arguing before the state Supreme Court is a challenge many lawyers relish."

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