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Posted: September 30th, 2023

Option 3: Listening to an Oral Argument at the U.S. Supreme Court

STEP 1: Option 3: Listen to an oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court. The audio recordings of all oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court of the United States are posted on the website on the same day an argument is heard by the Court. The public may either download the audio files or listen to the recordings on the Court’s website. The audio recordings are listed by case name, docket number, and the date of oral argument. Students must choose a case argued within the past five years. THIS CASE MAY NOT BE THE SAME CASE USED FOR THE NEXT PROJECT IN CLASS. Note that you can turn on a transcript function on the site, which is helpful as you listen along. There will be language that is difficult to understand. You can pause and look up terms or feel free to reach out if you have lingering questions about what you hear.Identify which experiential opportunity you engaged in and why.


● Then, describe three key takeaways you learned about dispute resolution, the U.S. legal system, the role of the attorneys, judge, and/or jury, or any other topics covered thus far in this course as a result of this activity. Each paragraph here should be in PICK Analysis ( format for a total of at least three paragraphs.

● Your own personal comments, impressions or reaction to what you observed, including something new you learned about the law or the legal system, or some impression that changed because of this activity. What value did you gain from the visit? 1-2 paragraphs

● Explain what you most enjoyed about the activity. Explain what you least enjoyed—when you do this, please feel free to make a suggestion about how improvements could be made.

Model Student Submission

The attached sample is provided as an idea of what the outcome for this project should look like. However, you should not copy this model – it is there as a guideline of the formatting and to help understand the concepts. Each project should be unique based on your own ideas. This means you should choose a different topic than the one selected in the sample.

Anonymous submission following a 2017 court visit.

It is now Tuesday, September 15th, and I am quickly heading toward the Circuit Court. I feel a sharp twist in my stomach. Apprehension, excitement. I am wondering how this experience will be…

Three Key takeaways: Classification, Common Law, and Jury Instructions

Classification: Criminal and Civil Law
Point Within each level of courts, there exists a very clear distinction between criminal and civil cases. Maryland v. Bell is a criminal case. Concept: As we learned in Criminal and Civil Law, chapter one, criminal law concerns behavior so threatening that society outlaws it altogether, while civil law regulates rights and duties between parties. This concept means that criminal cases refer to serious offenses, such as theft, where we have the State of Maryland against an individual, unlike civil cases which involve private disputes.
Connection: With Maryland v. Bell, the case has all the features of a criminal case. First, it concerns a conspiracy theft skim, which is one of the behaviors that “criminal law prohibits… for the benefit of society” (Beatty and Samuelson, Criminal and Civil Law). The Government itself thus prosecutes the wrongdoers, which in this case are Mr. and Ms. Bell. It thus explains why the case is titled Maryland v. Bell. In addition, the victim is not in charge of the case. In Maryland v. Bell, none of the victims from the eyeglass store, nor the owner(s) of the eyeglass store, are present. A district attorney is instead in charge of prosecuting the crime. Key Takeaway This clear distinction is critical in the legal world. With both types of cases having different sets of standards, the outcomes could be entirely different. Somebody who is found innocent at the criminal level might be guilty at the civil level, the same way an individual can be found guilty at both the criminal and the civil level.

Stare Decisis
Point: By using the ruling from a previous case, the justice system is gradually crafting the law necessary to provide a fair judgment. Identify Concept: As we learned in Stare Decisis, chapter four, a desire for predictability created the doctrine of stare decisis, that is, the ruling from a previous case must be followed.: This concept means that by generally applying the same rule in similar cases, a court allows predictability. The law is then known, and both parties in a case can fairly prepare their arguments.
Connection: Predictability allows the law to be knowable. In the case of Maryland v. Bell, theft is defined as the “obtaining of unauthorized control of the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property” (Simms). In addition, Mr. Bell is mainly accused of two elements: conspiracy theft, and theft skim. After being instructed of the law, the jury is going to be able to reach a fair decision. Without the use of stare decisis, establishing that complete definition and setting that law would have been impossible. By fully knowing the law, each party also has the possibility to fully prepare and protect their “client”. Key takeaway: Stare Decisis is the strong foundation of Common Law. Over the years, it has greatly helped the legal world in further crafting the rules and definitions that we know today. It ensures the luxury of a predictability that makes our legal system more just.

Jury Instructions
Point: The way the jury instructions are worded is essential in giving a fair criminal trial. Identification of concept: As we learned in Jury Instructions, chapter six, the judge is in charge of instructing the jury as to its duty, from how they are to evaluate the case to who has the burden of proof.: This concept means that the jury instructions guide the jury’s decision. A slight difference or change in those same instructions could significantly change the outcome of the verdict.
Connection: In the mock trial, the judge intently listens to the case in order to write the proper instructions to the Jury. In this “case”, somebody is accused of having the intent to steal a notepad from a business. The judge then has the responsibility to provide the jury instructions, such as fully defining theft to the jury. Explaining the law, and telling them who holds the burden of proof. Since the Jury has to “evaluate the case based only on the evidence they [hear]” (Beatty and Samuelson, Jury Instructions), a slight change in those instructions will change the Jury’s decision or create biases. Key takeaway: The proper jury instructions are essential for a fair verdict. A slight change creates another outcome. That’s why, in Maryland v. Bell, the defense attorney was asking for the conspiracy and skim theft charges to be dropped for his client. If he had succeeded, who knows what the outcomes would have been?

General Impressions and what I learned from this Experience
Impression: A Legal Universe
As soon as

Option 3: Listening to an Oral Argument at the U.S. Supreme Court
On [DATE], I engaged with the third experiential opportunity and listened to an audio recording of an oral argument from a recent case at the U.S. Supreme Court, available on their website at This activity provided valuable insights into the American legal system and dispute resolution processes at the highest level.
Three Key Takeaways
Classification of Cases: The level of preparation demonstrated by both sides showed the distinction between criminal and civil matters. Supreme Court cases deal with complex legal issues that require extensive research and command of precedent. This reflects the importance of understanding how the classification of a case impacts standards and potential outcomes.
Role of Precedent: The Justices’ probing questions tested the logic and implications of arguments, potentially revealing weaknesses or inconsistencies. They aim to evaluate all perspectives impartially to reach the soundest legal conclusion. This demonstrates how precedent guides analysis and the significance of distinguishing rulings in similar prior cases.
Dynamic Oral Advocacy: Some exchanges were rapid fire, requiring attorneys to think on their feet to rebut counterarguments and defend their position. This contrasts with written briefs and highlights the value of concise, clear communication and ability to navigate challenging questions in this dynamic environment.
General Impressions
This experience provided insight into the Supreme Court’s crucial role adjudicating complex legal issues. The level of preparation, knowledge of precedent, and skills in oral advocacy displayed are inspiring for legal professionals and students. While intimidating, this window into the highest court reinforced my interest in law and continued education in the American legal system.

In regards to the first link about oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, I was able to access and listen to an audio recording from a recent case. Based on the recording, I have three key takeaways:
The level of preparation and knowledge demonstrated by the attorneys on both sides was extremely high. They were able to cite precedent, reference specific passages in legal filings, and respond precisely to questions from the Justices. This shows the importance of thorough research and command of the details.
The Justices asked probing questions to test the logic and implications of each argument. They pointed out potential weaknesses or inconsistencies, showing their aim to evaluate all perspectives on the issue. This reflects their role in impartial adjudication and seeking the soundest legal outcome.
Some oral exchanges were rapid fire, with attorneys having to think on their feet to rebut counterarguments and defend their position. This dynamic environment contrasts with the more deliberative nature of written legal briefs. It places a premium on conciseness, clarity and ability to navigate challenging questions.
In regards to the second link about PICK analysis, after reviewing the resource at, I have the following observations:
PICK provides a useful framework for analyzing legal concepts in a structured, yet flexible manner. It allows the key elements – Point, Identify concept, Connection and Key takeaway – to be logically presented in written work (Harvard, 2022).
When applying PICK analysis to describe dispute resolution processes, the U.S. legal system or other topics, it helps ensure all important aspects are covered thoroughly yet concisely (American Bar Association, 2020).
Students can benefit from practicing PICK analysis on different subjects covered in their coursework. It strengthens their ability to break down legal topics, cite relevant sources, and communicate their understanding effectively (American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, 2023).

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