Local News

Attorneys Weigh In On Speaking In Front Of Supreme Court

Posted December 11, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Arguing before theU.S. Supreme Courtis one of the loftiest goals an attorney can achieve. It is an opportunity rich in prestige and pitfalls. Two local lawyers have had their experience before the high court.

Charlie Edwards argued an employment law case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1998. He calls that experience the peak of a trial attorney's career.

"You don't have much time to think. If you come in with a prepared argument, you can pretty much throw it away," he says.

It can also be pretty nerve-wracking, as Republican lawyer Joe Klock learned Monday when he got two of the justices mixed up. Edwards says he knows how Klock feels.

"At one point in time, I didn't hear Justice O'Connor," he says. "She has a very quiet voice, and she tried to get my attention and said, 'Yoo-hoo!'"

Robinson Everett, a Duke professor and retired federal judge, has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court four times. He was in the audience during the first day of oral arguments in the Florida election case.

"The justices were very intent. The counsels were good. Of course, they were very experienced and had argued at the Supreme Court many times before," he says.

Everett says the election case gives Americans rare and valuable insight about the court, but whatever the justices decide, he believes some Americans will have trouble accepting it.

"I'm expecting on Inauguration Day that there will be demonstrations no matter how the Court decides it," he says.

Both attorneys say they have been following the presidential election case with a lot of interest.