While emerging technology has created new opportunities for the way both lawyers and the public interact with the judicial system, judges haven’t been left behind. On today’s show, Judge John Owens of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals joins Todd Smith and Jody Sanders, along with special guest co-host M.C. Sungaila, to discuss just how technology has helped from a judicial perspective. Judge Owens discusses how judges can embrace technology to better engage with attorneys at oral argument and prepare more efficiently to decide cases. He also offers tips to attorneys who are faced with tough oral argument questions and stresses the importance of preparation. Finally, he shares stories about his federal appointment process and, with M.C. Sungaila, provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the 9th Circuit operates.

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Photo of D. Todd Smith D. Todd Smith

D. Todd Smith practices in the Appellate and Written Advocacy Group at Butler Snow LLP, where he represents clients in all phases of civil appeals and original proceedings and works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, Todd…

D. Todd Smith practices in the Appellate and Written Advocacy Group at Butler Snow LLP, where he represents clients in all phases of civil appeals and original proceedings and works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, Todd takes the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review.

Todd earned degrees from Texas Christian University (B.S. 1989), Texas Tech University (M.P.A. 1992), and St. Mary’s University School of Law (J.D. 1995). While in law school, he was editor in chief of the St. Mary’s Law Journal and interned with Fifth Circuit Judge Emilio M. Garza (ret.).

Before joining Butler Snow, Todd served as a briefing attorney to Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul A. Gonzalez (ret.) (1995-1997), practiced with Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. (now Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP) (1997-2006), and ran his own civil appellate boutique (2006-2021). He is certified as a specialist in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and regularly appears on Thomson Reuters’ Texas Super Lawyers list.

Todd frequently writes and speaks on appellate-related topics. In addition to publishing Texas Appellate Strategy, he is the creator, producer, and co-host of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast, a weekly show that demystifies appellate law and pulls back the curtain on the appellate system through conversations with judges, court staff, and practitioners.

Todd sits on the State Bar Board of Directors, is immediate past chair of the Austin Bar Foundation, and is a past-president of the Austin Bar Association. As Austin Bar president (2019-2020), Todd spearheaded creation of the Lawyer Well-Being Committee, which aims to educate, support and connect the Austin legal community to achieve more balanced, mindful, and joyful lives and practices. He also serves on the Judicial Committee on Information Technology, is a trustee of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, and is a member of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court.