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The ACS Blog Talks With A Public Defender About What Arguing A Case In The Supreme Court Felt Like

Over at the ACS blog, Nicole Flatow interviewed attorney and State Appellate Defender Valerie Newman about her experience arguing before the Supreme Court on behalf of the respondent in Lafler v. Cooper. Rarely, do we hear an unvarnished take on what it is like for attorneys to argue before the high court. Speaking of the experience, Ms. Newman said:

“It was not a pleasant experience,” she said. “… I tell people the experience felt to me like there were nine lions, even though Justice Thomas never talked, and I was the piece of meat that was thrown into the ring and they were just all scratching at me to see who could get the biggest piece.”

That is likely the experience for most people at their first oral argument before the Supreme Court, especially if you are defending a pro-defendant result.

But this story has a happy ending. Ms. Newman stood her ground during oral argument and ultimately prevailed in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy. Lafler, along with Missouri v. Frye, were two of the most important criminal cases the Court decided this term. In fact, those two cases may go along side some of the most important rulings ever on ineffective assistance of counsel, cases such as Strickland, Padilla, and Wiggins.

Nice work Ms. Newman.

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Articles posted in the Cockle Blog are for informational purposes only. Nothing in the Cockle Blog should be taken for legal advice. In fact, Cockle Blog articles are not a substitute for proper legal research conducted by licensed attorneys.

Cockle Blog will occasionally provide opinions on certain cases and Court procedures. These opinions should be viewed with the recognition that no one can predict with certainty how the Supreme Court will rule on particular cases. Any reliance on articles contained in Cockle Blog must be done at one's own risk.