Governor Jerry Brown yesterday swore in Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger, his two most recent Supreme Court appointees. (Video of the ceremony is here.) He did so soon after having been sworn in himself by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye for an unprecedented fourth term as governor. Immediately after his swearing in, the governor introduced Cuéllar and Kruger to those assembled for his combined inaugural/state of the state address.
There were even a few practice tips at the ceremony. Brown noted that, when he clerked at the Supreme Court for Justice Tobriner 50 years ago, he was surprised to learn that, with tentative opinions having been written before oral arguments, “the judges have often made up their minds even before you argue,” but that “a good oral advocate can turn it around.” After being sworn in, Justice Cuéllar spoke of “the value and virtues of opinions that are short, pithy, and, wherever possible, written in plain English.” Cuéllar’s comments about good opinions certainly apply to appellate briefs as well. And writing a good appellate brief is a better strategy than waiting to “turn it around” at oral argument.