September 19, 2016

Paul Sandler Participates as a Trial Laywer in Supreme Court's Mock Trial

"For a few hours on Monday, the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court morphed into a three-member panel reenacting one of its earlier cases in the same Philadelphia courtroom where it was first argued in 1794.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito Jr. donned their black robes for a rare outside-the-Beltway sitting in Philadelphia’s Old City Hall, where the court convened sporadically as a six-member court from 1791 to 1800. As when it holds hearings in Washington, broadcast cameras were not allowed, and only a court photographer was allowed to take still photos.

The invitation-only event was part of the every-few-years exchange between U.S. and U.K. jurists sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers to “share experiences and keep current” on their common legal roots, as Roberts put it.

Four trial lawyers—William Hangley, Paul Sandler, Linda Hoffa and Alfred Putnam Jr.—argued the case before the three justices, using more colorful and forceful styles than most high court advocates do, and sometimes talking over a justice, a no-no at the modern-day court.

The case the justices re-enacted was Georgia v. Brailsford, a quirky dispute that has been billed as the only reported Supreme Court case in which the court itself held a jury trial—though the court convened other juries in unreported cases through the end of the eighteenth century. Scholars Charles Alan Wright and Arthur Miller wrote in their 2013 Federal Practice and Procedure text that “the prospect of a jury trial conducted by nine justices at the expense of other cases is appalling.”

The oddity of the case did give British jurists a role to play on Monday—as the jurors who decided the case based on the advice of then-Chief Justice John Jay. Among them were Lord Jonathan Mance and Lord Robert Reed of the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

The American College of Trial Lawyers, an elite litigation society, recruited four fellows to play the advocates. Hangley is a founder of Philadelphia’s Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller. Hoffa is a partner at Dilworth Paxson and chairs the firm’s white-collar defense group. Putnam is a partner and former chairman of Drinker Biddle. Sandler is a Baltimore partner at Shapiro Sher and chair of the firm’s litigation group."

For the full article on, see "Supreme Court Justices Unite with British Visitors for Mock Trial" by Tony Mauro.