Oral Arguments, a Good Opinion Lost, and My Weapon

This week I attended my very first real live oral argument on some permit issues. Faaaaaascinating.   What’s funny, is it shouldn’t have been.  I mean, this kind of law is super technical, where you’re basically arguing about whether or not this word in a regulation meant the same thing as that word in a statute.  Also, you’re arguing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), so there aren’t the exciting theatrics I’m told you might get in a courtroom with a jury.  Instead, there’s all this verbal snark.  Which is highly entertaining in its own right – almost more so, because no one can react to it.  A beautifully delivered one-liner must pass without a single cheer from the stands. . . and I have to tell you guys, there were some truly brilliant moments.  It’s kind of like a Jane Austin novel – all the intensity is still there, the expression is all restrained to careful words.