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Justice Hinds-Radix dispels myths of the oral argument at Columbian Lawyers CLE seminar

May 4, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
RoseAnn C. Branda (left) and the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn hosted Justice Sylvia Hinds­Radix for a CLE on the myths of the oral argument on Tuesday. Photos by Rob Abruzzese.
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The Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn hosted Associate Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, for a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar titled “The Myths of Oral Argument” at the Rex Manor in Dyker Heights on Tuesday.

“It is my extreme pleasure to have Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix here today,” said RoseAnn C. Branda, president of the Columbian Lawyers Association. “She’s the past president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and has been involved in nearly every bar association ever created. What I have noticed most about the judge is that she always brings the biggest smile into the room, and that’s just one of the reasons why you are so beloved by your colleagues.”

Hinds-Radix began the evening with a few words about Justice Arthur Schack, who had passed away the day before.

“I met Judge Schack when I went on the Criminal Court bench,” Hinds-Radix said. “He has always been a friend, a very brilliant jurist and a man with a heart. He was a judge’s judge. He fought for judges, he fought for pay increase, and not only has the judiciary lost a friend, but the bar has lost a very significant member.”

Hinds-Radix then went on to explain that the one question she gets at every forum she attends is about oral arguments and whether they truly matter when bringing a case to the Appellate Division.

“For me, it’s a myth that oral argument is not important, it really is,” Hinds-Radix said. “I’m a strong proponent of the oral argument. It clarifies the issues and arguments in the brief and it gives you a road map.

“My colleagues are going to kill me because I’m telling people to argue, but I think it’s important,” she joked. “Some people say that only impacts 15 to 20 percent of cases, but to me, that’s a lot. Why would you not make sure you are one of those 20 percent?”

Hinds-Radix discussed ways to make oral arguments stronger — be prepared, use proper courtroom demeanor, limit the argument to the strongest single point and clearly explain what the issue of fact was that the judge below the Appellate Court got wrong. She added that it helps when attorneys avoid being theatrical.

“If you care about your client and your client’s case, then it behooves you to be prepared,” Hinds-Radix said. “I’m always amazed at how diligent my colleagues are. Nobody takes the bench without having read the records, the briefs, the reports and know the cases. They really do. So if you come to court and you are the attorney who picks up the case when you get off the train, we know that you have not prepared.”

During the meeting, members of the Columbian Lawyers Association voted on their next slate of officers, who will be installed during the annual dinner on June 10. Dean G. Delianites will serve as the next president, Linda Lo Cascio will be first vice president, Joseph S. Rosato will serve as the second vice president, Susanne Gennusa the third vice president, Mark A. Longo will be treasurer, Christopher Caputo corresponding secretary, Maria Aragona recording secretary and George J. Siracuse remains the historian.

This was the final CLE meeting of the season for president Branda. The group will meet one more time before the next president is installed, as it will hold a weekend seminar in Atlantic City, N.J., May 5-7. Brooklyn Bar Association President Arthur Aidala will be the keynote speaker during that seminar.

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