Last year we reported here when the Supreme Court obtained a new oral argument timing system to assist counsel and the Court in keeping track of oral argument time remaining.  We recently learned that the Court of Appeals added the same or similar system to its oral argument podium.

While I have not yet seen the Court of Appeals’ system up-close, you can catch a peak of it by watching WRAL’s video of the ACC v. Maryland oral argument.   The system appears to works similarly to the system used by the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Red, yellow, and green lights are illuminated during the following intervals: 1) The green light comes on when your argument begins and remains on until you have 2 minutes remaining, 2) at which point the yellow light comes on and remains on until your oral argument time expires, and 3) when you are out of time the red light comes on and signals that you should sit down.  If  you are the appellant, and you want to reserve more than two minutes of your time for rebuttal, you need to sit down before the yellow light comes on.

There is also a digital timer that counts down the amount of time, to the second, that you have remaining for oral argument.

The good news is that arguing counsel do not have to keep track of their own time. The bad news is that you cannot plead ignorance when your time has expired!

–Beth Scherer