May It Please The Court

August 27, 2010


Filing an appeal to contest some injustice in criminal court may seem inspiring and lofty, but as a practical matter it is a huge pain in the ass. The Appellate Court of Connecticut requires lawyers to file fifteen copies of their briefs, two copies of some other things, and about twenty pages of miscellaneous forms, waivers, requests, and blood oaths. (I have been trying to pull one together all week, and finally got it filed this afternoon.) The pleasure of an appeal, if there is any, comes at oral arguments (maybe), and really only when there is a positive outcome, which is rare. But I have discovered another little pleasure, buried in the miserable blizzard of paperwork: Reading a court transcript and seeing in impassive, unemotional print the silly things I said in the heat of an argument. Here are some samples:

“Can I finish, please?”

“But– well–”


“This is true.”

“Well, but in–”

“Once again we go over this.”

“The argument of the State seems to be that having once been convicted of a felony, he waives his right to bail for life. But if the question is true and–”

“In this court?”

“I’m asking, what else can he do?”

“Hold on, hold on, Carla. Just hold on a moment.”

“Carla, hold on. Hold on a second.”


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