Jim Layton, who leads Tueth Keeney’s appellate practice group, presented “Preparing to Argue to Appellate Judges, From Your Home to Theirs: Remote Appellate Advocacy in the Wake of COVID-19.” Attending—by video feed—were 565 lawyers from 46 states and three U.S. territories; others have since watched a recording of the program. The program was presented by the National Attorneys General Teaching and Research Institute (NAGTRI), for which Jim is a regular instructor.
Appellate courts across the nation have been moving to electronic oral argument, either audio-only or by video. The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled audio-only arguments for May, and will make the audio feed available to the public—both firsts for that court. The Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have recently held arguments in which counsel and some or all judges participated by video. Though the Missouri courts have not made video feeds or recordings of video arguments available to the public, courts elsewhere have shown arguments live on the internet; recordings of some of those are still available on YouTube (e.g. Kansas).
Jim focused on ways in which lawyers who will be arguing from home need to prepare. Among his suggestions:
- Work with the court to ascertain just how the argument will proceed, including what video or audio platform the court will use.
- Hold practice arguments using the same video or audio platform, and the same number of participants.
- Carefully arrange your “courtroom,” the home studio from which you will “broadcast” your argument.
- Practice using a slower cadence, pauses, and express invitations to encourage judges to ask questions.
Jim was directly involved some years ago in the first Missouri experiments with video oral argument, undertaken by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, and has argued via video before that court. He has been carefully watching the courts’ rapidly expanding use of audio and visual technology. And he has counseled with attorneys preparing for recent and scheduled arguments from remote locations.
Appellate Practice – Tueth Keeney lawyers have briefed and argued hundreds of appeals, including appeals in all Missouri and Illinois state and federal appellate courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Appellate Practice Group represents clients on a wide range of issues impacting businesses, individuals, government entities, and educational institutions. Tueth Keeney attorneys are also available to contribute their considerable experience (including more than 90 arguments before the Missouri Supreme Court) to appeals handled by others—strategizing, assisting with briefs, and preparing for oral argument.
James Layton leads the firm’s Appellate practice group and is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Labor, and Education groups. He assists clients with analysis and presentation of complex legal issues in Missouri and federal courts, both trial and appellate. In addition to handling cases himself and with other attorneys at Tueth Keeney, Jim consults with clients on appellate strategy and assists other counsel in high-stakes, complex appeals.
Jim has briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and before all Missouri appellate courts—including nearly 100 cases before the Missouri Supreme Court. He has represented clients in U.S. district courts and in Missouri circuit courts from Jackson County to the City of St. Louis. He has extensive experience with government-related litigation and state taxation disputes. Jim is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a past president of the Bar Association of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and a past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers. He is a frequent speaker in the areas of appellate practice and constitutional law, both state and federal.