Last Friday, Chief Justice Beasley of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, held a press conference on the State judiciary’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the announcements during the conference focused on the trial courts. But there was also some information given during the press conference, and since then, about how the appellate courts are dealing with the pandemic.
First, both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals remain open for filing—electronic and physical. All deadlines remain the place unless parties obtain an extension of time.
For oral arguments, things are in flux. The Chief Justice noted that the Supreme Court had already held all oral arguments scheduled for the month of March. She didn’t say what would happen to arguments already scheduled for the following months.
The Court of Appeals is still deciding how it will proceed with oral arguments. For oral arguments scheduled this week, each panel has been making its own decision how to proceed. Some arguments have been cancelled entirely, per Appellate Rule 30(f). Other arguments have been postponed indefinitely. And others are proceeding as previously scheduled. No arguments are scheduled for next week at the Court of Appeals. And as of the time of this blog post, the Court hasn’t made any announcements yet for how arguments scheduled for the the week of March 30 will proceed. For now, practitioners should assume arguments are going forward unless or until the Court directs otherwise.
As to opinions, the Chief Justice said that the Supreme Court would be issuing opinions on its next scheduled release date, April 3. And the Court of Appeals released its regularly scheduled batch of opinions this morning.
That’s all the updates we have for now. We’ll continue to update the blog as we hear more. Let us know what you’ve heard in the comments.
P.S. The Supreme Court of the United States postponed its oral arguments scheduled for later this month. Apparently, the last time this happened was during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. You can read more here.