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    July 28, 2008  

Scalia Teaches CLE

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We hadn't heard of the Kennedy Center hosting CLE before, but then we've never heard of a Supreme Court Justice instructing one, either. But that's what happened Friday, when a crowd of 750 filled the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall for a full day of tutoring from Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner, Editor of Black's Law Dictionary and Scalia's co-author on their new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.


Joking that he was "the dullest act" ever to grace the Concert Hall stage (and noting that he normally prefers the Opera House), Justice Scalia turned his curmudgeonly charm to full blast while he and Garner worked through each of the 115 principles ("Have Your Opener Down Pat," "Cite Authorities Sparingly," etc.) in their book. Heeding their own advice to "Make It Interesting," the pair sprinkled in snippets of videotaped interviews with legal luminaries such as Justices Breyer and Kennedy, Judge Easterbrook from the Seventh Circuit, and Hogan's Barrett Prettyman, Jr.


They also threw comic barbs at each other a la The Lockhorns, or maybe those grumpy guys in the Muppet Show balcony. Garner, above, and Scalia polled the audience on some of their disagreements: Garner favors putting citations in footnotes, Scalia doesn't; Garner favors using contractions, Scalia doesn't ("Next thing you know they'll be calling me by my first name!"). Maybe audience members were currying favor should they ever appear before him, but Scalia seemed to win the majority of the crowd in the friendly disputes.


Attendees paid a whopping admission price—$600—but each received a book and all the sunshine they could get on the terrace at breaktime. Here we caught Legal Aid attorneys Rosanne Aviles, Deborah Cuevas Hill, and intern Jonathan Tucker, all smiles because Legal Aid took home the profits from the event. Cameras taped the entire session, which Garner announced will be condensed into a webinar from Thomson West.


Here's a healthy crew from Willkie Farr, enjoying the day off intense educational session: associates Shea Wynn, Matt Scutari, Janine D'Aniello, and Gloria Simunovic. Willkie Farr partner Richard Bernstein, a former Scalia clerk, is thanked in the book's acknowledgments.


An enormous line queued up to get books signed after the presentation, but we ferreted out the author of another text that got notice on Friday. From the stage, Garner praised the ALWD Citation Manual, by Stetson Law Dean Darby Dickerson, as an easier-to-read alternative to Blue Book form. Darby tells us her manual's style is now preferred in Montana's federal courts ("I'm a celebrity in the Big Sky state," she says), an accepted alternative in the 11th Circuit, and is taught in legal writing classes to half of the nation's 1Ls. On hand with her were former students Brian Redar, a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals of Veteran's Claims and Tino Lisella from DoJ's Tax section.

Andrews Kurth
Cardinal Bank
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