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M oments before every oral argument in the California Supreme Court, nervous attorneys sit anxiously in the courtroom, quietly wondering whether they’ll woo the justices with marvelous oratory or wind up sputtering like Porky Pig.

It can be tense. But that’s when court administrator and clerk Frederick “Fritz” Ohlrich shines — putting the nail-biting crowd at ease with a lively speech about the history of the court and warning them about the no-nos of oral argument in a way that often has everyone chuckling. He even explains why all four male justices sit on one end of the bench while the three females sit on the opposite end. (It has to do with seniority.)

It’s an entertaining spiel that varies little, whether being told in San Francisco, Los Angeles or Sacramento. And it cuts through the thick air very effectively.

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