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Explanation: I agree with interlang. This is a cynical or ironic way to refer to one's opponant in court. "The learned counsel for the appellant". It is a way to put him or her down, by using words that seem to flatter him or her. Everyone who hears knows that in his head, he really thinks "that idiot counsel for the appellant".
In French, you would hear something like "mon éminent collègue" or "mon éminent confrère, l'avocat de l'appelant".