Ever been completely engaged in an oral argument before a North Carolina appellate court?  Ever had to be told by an appellate court that your oral argument time had expired?  Worse yet, ever had a mini-panic attack trying to figure out how much oral argument time you had remaining? 

Good News!  The North Carolina Supreme Court has recently added an oral argument light system to help attorneys keep track of their time.

Full Disclosure:  We have not yet personally seen the Supreme Court’s new system, but will post more details about the system when we do.  However, we are hearing that it is similar to the system used by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Fourth Circuit’s oral argument podiums have a three-light (green, yellow, and red) timing system that counsel can use to monitor their argument times.  The green light comes on when oral argument begins, and a digital clock counts down the argument time remaining.  When five minutes of argument time remain, the green signal goes off and the yellow signal comes on.  The red signal comes on when the attorney’s oral argument time has ended. 

The Supreme Court’s new system should help oral argument advocates focus on the Court’s questions, without also having to mentally keep track of the oral argument time remaining.

But if you are one of the very few people that find the lights and timer distracting, cheer up! The North Carolina Court of Appeals does not yet have the system and, at least in that court, you are still expected to keep your own time.