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Now you know: Don’t call the justices ‘you guys’

Here’s what NOT to do during oral argument at the Supreme Court of Virginia, according to Justice LeRoy Millette.  Millette noted lawyers twice referred to the sitting court as “you guys” during one recent session.

The over-familiarity was not well received by the justices, Millette disclosed, although one of the offenders managed to prevail on his appeal.

Millette today also warned members of the Roanoke Bar Association about another oral argument misstep – addressing the justices by name while relying on a seating chart.  “Sometimes we change seats,” he said, recalling an instance where he was addressed as “Justice Koontz.”

Millette urged appellant counsel to make the trip to Richmond for a writ panel, resisting the temptation to argue a petition by telephone.  “There’s something about a disembodied voice that doesn’t have the same character,” he said.  “If you really want to get your writ granted, I’d come to talk to us.”

Jay O’Keeffe has a more thorough account of Millette’s observations and advice at his blog, DeNovo.

By Peter Vieth

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