Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arguing Orally

I had Oral Arguments last night for International Moot Court, otherwise known as fake ICJ. It went fine. I wasn't too nervous, until I actually sat down and listened to my opponent start. Then I started getting the knot in the stomach that gets tighter and tighter until you feel sick. Other than a bit of dry mouth, though, I felt much better when I started arguing. Overall it went well. I'll find out Friday if I made the competition team.

I have to say, though, that my proudest moments were not the logical and legal points I proved, but the classical and biblical allusions I made. Having strong legal and factual arguments is essential, but they can be so dry.

It is customary for an advocate to make some theme statement at the beginning of argument. Usually, it's something like "this is a case about the rule of law" or some other such boring and forgettable legal principle. My theme was an allusion to Aesop. I told the judges that "this is a case about political sour grapes." The judges liked that.

At one point during my opponent's argument, one of the judges asked him if he was not trying to have it both ways. When I argued, I recalled that colloquy and told the judges that my opponent was "taking a rather Janus-faced position." One judge didn't like that because it was obscure and distracting. Two judges loved it because it was original.

Then, pointing out another logical inconsistency in my opponent's argument, I said to the judges "after straining at such technical legal gnats, I don't know how the opposing side can then expect the court to swallow such blatant factual camels." This one made my teacher almost laugh.

I guess it shows I was an English major that I'm prouder of my allusions than my legal analysis.


Amanda said...


Warren said...

Is Janus really that obscure? Do people not know where the word January comes from, or is it just me? I figured most people know about the double faced Janus looking both ways.

JKC said...

I didn't think Janus was that obscure, but I don't think most people know who he is.

I think Janus might be a little more widely recognized among educated people than if I had said that my opponent was acting Harvey Dent-like.