The Fourth District Court of Appeal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Division is now in session.
Three robed justices took their place on the bench in TJSL’s Moot Courtroom to hear arguments from students in Adjunct Professor Carmela Simoncini’s Appellate Advocacy class.
The panel was made of up of Presiding Justice Manuel Ramirez, Justice Art McKinster and Justice Betty Richli, all highly experienced jurists who came to San Diego from their courthouse in Riverside especially appear in this class. Professor Simoncini was very grateful the three were kind enough to volunteer their time to drive to TJSL from Riverside.
To have three sitting appeals court justices appear at TJSL was an amazing experience for the students.
“It felt real,” said one student. “Welcome to the big leagues,” said another.
“It was the best experience so far for me in law school,” said 3L Dobrina Dobreva.
She played the role of the appellant’s attorney to argue that there was abuse of discretion by the judge in her client’s lower court trial, and that the defendant’s sentence should have been reduced.
3L Paul Young argued the People’s case. “It was a really good experience to prepare me for the real thing,” said Young. Each student in the class got to argue one side or the other, and there were four teams in all.
As you would expect, all of the students were nervous facing the justices but they were well-prepared and articulate. It was easy to picture them in a real courtroom, representing real clients.
“It’s OK to be nervous,” said Justice Ramirez during a question and answer session afterwards. “All in all, your arguments were very, very good,” he added.
Some advice from the justices: “Don’t read your brief to us – it bores us,” said Justice McKinster. “And don’t reargue your trial case in the appeals court,” added Justice Richli. “Know the standards of review for the case and remember that we are bound by the record.” Justice Richli provided one on one feedback to each student.
2L Danielle Mor said it was a great experience for her. “It put it all into perspective and it was a good opportunity to be able to listen to the critique, both positive and negative.”
“Be strong, said Justice McKinster. “Keep your stage presence, respond forcefully and do not be led the wrong way.”
“And always ask yourself ‘whose case is it?’ It is always the client’s case,” said Justice Ramirez.
Invaluable advice from experienced appeals court justices. Priceless.