Oral argument operates by each party in a case taking turns to speak directly to the judge, or judges with an equal amount of time allotted to each. A party may often reserve part of their time to be used for rebuttal after their adversary has presented.
Presenting lawyers usually cannot get away with simply making speeches or reading their briefs when presenting oral argument. Unlike trial court procedure, where judges intervene only when asked by the parties to resolve objections, it is typical for judges at the appellate level to be active participants in oral argument, interrupting the presenting lawyers and asking questions. This is true even of courts that are formed of panels of multiple judges, such as the United States Supreme Court, where a presenting lawyer must be prepared to handle questions from any of the nine justices. It is also true that when a motion is made before or during trial that the lawyers conduct themselves before the judge in a manner similar to the presentation of the case on appeal, the lawyers present their arguments to the judge in a more conversational mode; in some pre-trial proceedings these appearances may not be recorded by court stenographers as they are invariably recorded in appellate proceedings.
Oral argument is not always considered an essential part of due process, as the briefs also give the parties an opportunity to be heard by the court. Whether a court will permit, require, or guarantee the opportunity to present oral argument is usually left up to each local court to decide as part of its local rules of procedure, with differences from court to court even within a single jurisdictional system. Some courts may guarantee the right to present oral argument, either requiring the parties to request to present or their waiver if they do not wish to, while other courts may require oral argument without the ability to waive it. Courts may also have the discretion to decide a case without presentation of oral argument, rendering their judgment entirely based on the arguments set forth in the parties' briefs.