Superheroes of the Pennsylvania Superior Court
Today is National Superhero Day. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to accompany one of the partners of the firm to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. As a young attorney who has not yet had the opportunity to argue at the Superior Court, this was an exciting day for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Attorney Holly Filius’ argument of an appeal of a custody order in front of a panel of three Superior Court Judges was professional but fairly uneventful. However, as we were leaving we happened upon a group of individuals dressed as superheroes on the Capitol steps. So what do you do when you run into superheroes after a Superior Court argument? Have your picture taken with them, of course!
a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person
Based on this definition, many of you often function as superheroes in some capacity in your life. You also probably know, live or work with someone who behaves each and every day as a superhero. Although she did not have a cape, mask or colorful costume, Holly’s skillful presentation at Superior Court made her a superhero for her client that day.
In a typical appeal to the Superior Court, an attorney has, at most, a period of fifteen minutes to argue their case in front of the panel of three judges. In actuality, the majority of the argument is completed prior to arriving at the courthouse. Weeks prior to the oral argument, each party must submit briefs outlining their position, including supporting cases and rules of law. Prior to the day of oral argument, the judges read through hundreds of pages of documents, including each party’s briefs and the record of the prior cases at the Court of Common Pleas level. And each day of oral arguments, the panel hears upwards of 20 to 30 appeals.
Walking into the courtroom that morning, I have to admit, my expectations were low with regards to the amount of knowledge the judges would have on each case. How much detail can you really fit into a fifteen-minute argument? To my surprise, the judges all inquired as to very specific aspects of each and every case. They were fully aware of all of the facts, the appellate arguments of each party, and what they needed to know more fully in order to make an informed decision. It truly was amazing to witness. By the way, if you’re interested in observing the Superior Court in action, arguments are open to the public and held in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Here is the Superior Court’s calendar.
So, happy Superhero Day to all of the skilled and successful people who work hard to help and protect others, and to Holly and all of the attorneys at my firm who are dedicated to advocating for their clients each and every day.