Oyez - Multimedia Supreme Court ArchiveWhen the distinctly unglamorous (yet critically important) day-to-day lawyering tasks are leaving you less than intellectually satisfied, have no fear: the Oyez Project is a multimedia archive for the Supreme Court, a great diversion for attorneys.

For most lawyers – even some of us business types who rarely, if ever, step into a courtroom – the United States Supreme Court represents the pinnacle of the legal profession in America. Relatively few get the chance to actually practice before the Court, but it’s hard to believe any lawyer hasn’t at least one time envisioned herself appearing in front of the Justices.

Regularly updated, the Oyez Project (btw, they have a beta version as well) is a comprehensive collection of dockets, dates, decisions and recordings of oral arguments, among other Supreme Court-related content. It’s organized by term and searchable in multiple ways.  For many cases, the audio track is synchronized to text, so while the audio plays, a transcript follows along on the screen showing a corresponding photo of the person speaking.

For anyone interested in law, being able to listen to some of our nation’s most controversial, high-profile decisions argued by sharp, passionate, well-prepared attorneys is a terrific opportunity.   Better yet, listening to Justices spontaneously interject, propose hypotheticals –  each Justice focusing on a particular nuance or concern – provides key insight into each individual Justice’s manner of analysis.  

It also provides the listener with the opportunity to (unfairly, of course!) play a little Monday Morning Quarterback.  Did the lawyer give a good answer? Did that particular answer just effectively decide the entire case?  Listening to oral argument adds an important perspective over just reading the briefs or decisions.

Once you’ve listened to the argument and questioning of one legendary case, you’ll find yourself clicking away looking for others. Bush v. Gore, Miranda v. Arizona, Roe v. Wade – they’re all there.

A certified gaming nerd, I particularly enjoyed the recent arguments in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, concerning whether the First Amendmend bars a state from restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. (Decision: Yes, it does.) Video games, First Amendment analysis, societal impact issues, “obscenity”definition nuances, all rolled up into sophisticated intellectual arguments among skilled, experienced attorneys.   Great stuff.

Regardless, if you haven’t already checked out the Oyez Project, I think it’s worth a look.