May it Please the Court: Maximizing the Persuasive Power of Oral Argument – A08

Litigation and Advocacy Track
Appellate Advocacy Section

Session A: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Two prominent Connecticut appellate attorneys will hold live oral argument before a panel of three current and former Connecticut appellate judges on an issue that was recently argued before the United States Supreme Court.  Before their arguments, each attorney will share their argument strategy  to attendees (out of the hearing of the other attorney and the panel of judges.)  Following the oral argument, the judges will offer feedback and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each attorney’s strategy and presentation.

In order to obtain maximum benefit from this program, course participants are strongly encouraged to read the portion of the written materials regarding the case issues in advance of attendance.

You will learn:

  • How to craft a strategy and plan for appellate oral argument
  • Best practices to present effectively before the court


Rebecca M. Harris, Crumbie Law Group, Hartford

Rebecca Harris is a Senior Attorney with the Crumbie Law Group, LLC in Hartford Connecticut. She has more than ten years of experience practicing in appellate advocacy and complex civil litigation, including breach of contract actions, employment law cases, personal injury defense, medical malpractice defense, product liability defense, premises liability defense, and cases involving the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Attorney Harris also maintains a significant practice in representation of police officers and municipalities in civil rights actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Attorney Harris earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a second Bachelor’s Degree Actuarial Science/Mathematics from the University of Connecticut in 2000. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2004. She is admitted to the bars of the State of Connecticut, U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

Attorney Harris is an active member of the Connecticut Bar Association and currently serve as Secretary and Treasurer of the Appellate Advocacy Section. She is also a member of the Board of Editors of the Connecticut Bar Journal.



Justice Peter T. Zarella, Connecticut Supreme Court (Retired), Hartford

Justive Zarella was born October 13, 1948 and graduated from Xavier High School in Concord, Massachusetts in 1967. Justice Zarella received his Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University, Massachusetts in 1972 and his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1975. He received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 2007. Justice Zarella was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1975, the Connecticut Bar in 1977, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts in 1976, the U.S. District Court in Connecticut in 1977, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit in 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985 and the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York in 1990. He was in the private practice of law from 1977 to 1996 and was a partner in the Hartford firm of Brown, Paindiris & Zarella from 1978 until his appointment as a Superior Court Judge in 1996.

Justice Zarella served as a Judge of the Superior Court from 1996 to 2000 and was elevated to Judge of the Appellate Court in 2000. He was nominated by Governor John G. Rowland as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on January 4, 2001 and was sworn in on January 22, 2001.
Justice Zarella’s professional affiliations include his service on the Connecticut Bar Association, Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section, Executive Committee from 1985 to 1990; the Connecticut Bar Association, Banking Law Committee from 1990 to 1994; the American Cancer Society, Bequests and Donations Committee from 1985 to 1989; Incorporator of the Stowe Day Foundation from 1985 to 1995; the Ethics Commission of the Town of West Hartford from 1992 to 1995; and the Town of West Hartford, Charter Revision Commission from 1995 to 1996. Justice Zarella was the Town Chairman, Republican Party, Town of West Hartford from 1992 to 1996, Connecticut Counsel for the “Dole for President” Committee from 1995 to 1996; Delegate from Connecticut to the Republican National Convention in 1996; and Commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission from 1995 to 1996.


Hon. Christine E. Keller, Connecticut Appellate Court, Hartford

Judge Keller of Hartford, is an honors graduate of Smith College (1974) and an honors graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law (1977).

On January 24, 2013, Judge Keller was nominated by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to be a judge of the Appellate Court; the General Assembly approved her nomination on March 6, 2013.  Prior to her appointment to the Appellate Court, Judge Keller was a Superior Court Judge, having been appointed by Governor Lowell P. Weicker in 1993, and a Family Support Magistrate, having been appointed by Governor William A. O’Neill in 1989.
Since her appointment as a Connecticut Superior Court Judge, Judge Keller has served as Presiding Judge in both the Hartford and Plainville juvenile courts, and has also served terms in Waterbury criminal court, New Britain civil and family courts, the Middletown Regional Child Protection Session,  and Hartford criminal and civil courts. From 1997 to 2002, she served as the statewide Chief Administrative Judge for Juvenile Matters.

Prior to her appointment as a Family Support Magistrate and after graduation from law school, Judge Keller practiced family, personal injury and real estate law at Neighborhood Legal Services in Hartford and subsequently worked at the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford and the law firm of Ritter and Keller.

Judge Keller is a member of the Connecticut and Hartford County Bar Associations and the Connecticut Judges Association, where she has held the offices of secretary and vice-president. She was a member of the Judicial Review Council, the state disciplinary body for judges, from 2006 to 2008.


Hon. Michael R. Sheldon, Connecticut Appellate Court, Hartford

Judge Michael R. Sheldon was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, where he attended public schools before attending Princeton University. At Princeton, where he was named a University Scholar and Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson School, he received an A.B. in public and international affairs and a Certificate of Proficiency in Russian Studies in 1971. Thereafter, he attended Yale Law School, from which he graduated in 1974.

Following law school, Judge Sheldon participated in the E. Barrett Prettyman Legal Internship Program at the Georgetown University Law Center. In that capacity, he was trained in criminal trial and appellate advocacy while supervising upper-class law students in the representation of criminal defendants in the Law Center’s Clinical Programs. In 1976, he was hired by the University of Connecticut School of Law as a professor of law and appointed director of the Criminal Clinic. He worked at the Law School until 1991, teaching courses in criminal law and procedure, establishing and operating the Moot Court Interterm Program, and training and supervising upper-class law students in the representation of criminal defendants in the Trial and Appellate Divisions of the Criminal Clinic.

Off the bench, Judge Sheldon has coached the mock trial teams of Canton High School and Canton Intermediate School, conducted educational programs for Russian judges and lawyers as vice-chair of the Connecticut- Pskov Rule of Law Partnership, and co-taught a course in Law and Forensic Science at the University of Connecticut School of Law. In 2009, he received the Connecticut Bar Association’s Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award and was named a Distinguished Friend of Education by the Connecticut Association of Schools. Judge Sheldon was appointed to the Appellate Court by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in October 2011. He lives in Canton with his wife, Diane, with whom he has raised their four children, Graham, Conor, Rowan and Cameron.


Daniel J. Krisch, Halloran & Sage LLP, Hartford

Daniel Jonah Krisch is a partner at Halloran & Sage LLP in Hartford, Connecticut, and Chair of its Appellate Practice Group, who represents a wide variety of corporate, institutional and individual clients during all stages of litigation.  He began his career as law clerk to former Chief Justice Ellen Peters on the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Since entering private practice in 2000, Daniel has argued over seventy appeals; they have involved multi-million dollar tort verdicts, complex divorce cases, election disputes, serious criminal convictions and issues of constitutional law and fundamental rights.  Daniel also regularly represents companies, insurers and individuals in civil litigation in state and federal court; assists trial counsel with raising, arguing and properly preserving potential appellate issues during trial; and advises insurers about appellate issues during litigation involving their policyholders.

Daniel is AV-rated by the peer-reviewed legal directory Martindale-Hubbell and has been recognized since 2011 by The Best Lawyers in America® in the categories of Appellate and Insurance Law.  He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has taught moot court and appellate advocacy at the University of Connecticut School of Law. He currently serves as Co-Chair of Connecticut Bar Association’s Appellate Advocacy Section, Executive Committee, and the Vice-Chair of Community Partners in Action, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to building a better community by providing services that promote accountability, dignity, and restoration for people affected by the criminal justice system.



Nancy L. Walker, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, Rocky Hill

Nancy Walker has practiced appellate law throughout her legal career and has submitted briefs in more than 60 state and federals appeals. She began regularly presenting oral appellate arguments in 2010, after she joined the Appellate Bureau at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. Since that time, she has appeared approximately 35 times before the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts, representing the state’s position in criminal and habeas appeals. Oral advocacy, which requires meticulous preparation, flexible thinking, and quick reflexes, continues to intrigue and challenge Attorney Walker.

Before joining the Appellate Bureau, Attorney Walker clerked for Arthur H. Latimer, a former federal Magistrate/Judge for the District of Connecticut.  She next worked as a solo practitioner for several years and then became an associate at Clendenen and Shea (and its predecessors) in New Haven, where she stayed for 18 years.  While at Clendenen and Shea, Attorney Walker was privileged to work closely with Attorney William H. Clendenen, Jr. on a wide variety of civil litigation matters, including appeals, and she benefitted greatly from his vast legal expertise.

Attorney Walker is active in the Appellate Practice Section of the Connecticut Bar Association and has volunteered as a mediator for Community Mediation in New Haven and for the Mediation Center of Charlottesville, VA, where she lived for one year in 2011-12. Attorney Walker graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1976 with a BA in French Studies. She earned a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1983. She spent her third year of law school as a visiting student at the University of Connecticut. It was there that she was bitten by the appellate advocacy bug, preparing and arguing her first appeal as a member of the Criminal Appellate Clinic, taught by then-Professor (now Appellate Court Judge) Michael R. Sheldon.

CLE Credit: 1.5 Hours (Skills)