On Friday I'm going to serve as a judge to help a team with their Moot Court competition. I broke my strict no extracurricular activities rule this once since a friend (and very nice guy) asked me to do it, and because the issue deals with the wire fraud statute. In any event, agreeing to help them reminded me of an article by Judge Kozinski. Here is it's lede:
I must tell you how impressed I am with the performance of both teams. In my fourteen years on the bench, I have seldom seen lawyers who served their clients so well. In fact, I wish I had lawyers this good appearing in my courtroom all the time - it would sure make my job a lot easier.
These words, or very similar ones, are uttered by the presiding judge at the end of every moot court competition I have attended - and there have been many. The associate judges, on either side, vigorously nod their heads and everyone in the courtroom beams - the participants, their coaches, their boyfriends and fiancees and, most important, theirmoms and dads, who are confirmed in the belief that their little Cadwalader or Eustacia really is the second coming of Cicero, or at least Melvin Belli.
This is all hunky dory, except for one fact: It's not true. It's one of those standard lies like "I tested negative last week," "I didn't inhale," and "Absolutely, 100% not guilty!" that are designed to get you past an awkward situation. I've said it myself many times and never meant it, and many more times I was one of the vigorous head-bobbers, adding a thumbs-up or an OK signal for emphasis, all the while thinking that these young folks needed a lot of ripening on the vine before they would become real lawyers.
You can read In Praise of Moot Court - Not! here.