As you can tell, I didn’t have time to blog during my last two days in New Orleans, but a lot got done! I went to sleep pretty late on Thursday night/Friday morning, so getting to breakfast and our research sessions was hard to do. But…on we must go!
The team and I had done most of our legal research the day before, so we were going through our cases and working on a proposed outline of what we found. Some of the judges were at other ABA sessions, but Judge Guy Reece was there and listened while we presented our findings. He asked a lot of questions, offered counter points and together we came up with a plan for a proposed opinion. Later on, Judge Stephanie Domitrovich came to further assist us with our research and outline.
Then it was time for the 4th Circuit panel to convene. I really didn’t know what to expect, but an area of the ballroom had been set up with chairs facing a platform where the judges would sit. Also set up were tables for the apellant and appellee. [In case you don’t know, circuit courts are courts of appeal and so the parties are identified as “appellant” (the party bringing an appeal) and “appellee” (the party against whom an appeal is taken). The appellant is the party that lost at the trial level.]
Anyway, since the court moved to the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street, all the cases and the lawyers moved too, so oral arguments scheduled for court that day went on as planned except they were in a different location. Appeals cases are much more formal than cases at the trial level; the court can only make determinations based on information contained in the lower court record, so there’s not a lot of showboating or emotion. In fact, the whole concept of oral arguments is more like a conversation and the judges can and do interrupt the attorneys whenever they have questions or need a point clarified. Each side gets 20 minutes and that’s it. Go….
After oral arguments we got a short Q&A with the judges and then had lunch. Also on Friday we had a resume workshop and Judge Reece reviewed our resumes to give us pointers of what aspects were good and what things we might consider changing. Nothing was off-limits from font, to content, to style and format. It was all good information. About the only critique he had about my resume was that it is two pages long. But then, as he pondered over it he admitted that it was all good and relevant information. In the end he decided that because of all my previous work experience, I was probably just fine with a two page resume.
We worked on our research project the rest of the afternoon, then all of the program participants met to take a group picture with the judges. Later that evening we went to a reception across the street where more ABA lawyers were attending. Needless to say, there was a whole lot of business card swapping that went on and we met all kinds of attorneys and judges with various areas of legal expertise.
Finally, after 7 pm when all our program events were over, Liz and I changed into comfortable clothes and decided to take a peek down Bourbon Street. Wow. That’s all I can say.
It was wild and it’s not even officially Mardi Gras yet! I supposed if you’re drinking (like most everyone was) one has a much different perception than if you are one of the few sober people walking around. Liz and I walked around with our mouths agape. I have never seen such excess…drinking, partying, fraternizing, soliciting it was all there, right on the street, for anyone and all to see. I was amazed to see a handful of people there with elementary school age kids wandering the dirty, nasty streets. As I told Liz, I was hoping the whole time that the world would not end at that moment with me in the middle of that den of iniquity because I’d not want the Lord to think I was participating in all that debauchery. I suppose though, it’s something to say I’ve been there, done that. No overwhelming urge for me to go back there anytime soon.
ONE cool thing did come out of our walk down several blocks of Bourbon Street: Apparently we inadvertently stumbled onto a moving shooting. The movie “Now You See Me” stars actors Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Mark Ruffalo. The scene was shooting in the middle of the street and Jesse was running through a crowd of people celebrating Mardi Gras; beads were flying from the balconies and Mark was at the end of the block standing on a police car looking for Jesse’s character through the crowd. They ran the scene several times which gave me the opportunity to get some pics.
As we moved down the street away from the crew and Jesse we got to where Mark was. There was so much chaos with people on both sidewalks, the actors and extras in the street simulating a “crowd” and just the sensory overload of Bourbon Street that I have no idea how, but I ended up right next to the police car where Mark was standing for his scene. He was coming back from having jumped off the car and we were standing right next to each other. Liz and I quickly asked if we could take a picture and he was so sweet that he stopped and stood with me while she did! We were giddy with laughter trying to figure out how we managed to get that to happen. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that Liz was yelling, “We’re law students!!!” But, it didn’t hurt!
After that, we ‘d had about enough and were exhausted. We made a loop and walked back the other side of Bourbon Street heading back to the hotel. Good night, New Orleans–hope everyone makes it home safe!