It has been more than a year since the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have held in-person oral arguments.  Thankfully, the appellate courts have been able to continue their important work by utilizing technology to hold WebEx arguments.  And even better, attorneys, clients, and members of the public have been able to see the arguments on the courts’ YouTube pages.

But at least for some cases, in-person arguments may be more effective and more appropriate.  Last week, the Court of Appeals issued new guidelines indicating that in-person arguments may resume as early as next month.  A few things of note:

  • In-person arguments will only occur if all counsel agree
  • In-person arguments will still be live-streamed online and recorded
  • The courtroom will have plexiglass screens on the bench, at counsel tables, and at the podium
  • Those attending (attorneys, judges, and clients) must either be vaccinated or have recent COVID-19 testing—and must present proof to the clerk of court prior to the argument
  • Similarly, those attending must certify that they have not likely been exposed to COVID-19
  • Attendance will be limited to the judges, necessary staff, attorneys of record, and the parties for the case
  • The courtroom will have hand sanitizer available but will NOT have water at counsel tables
  • Face masks and social distancing will still be expected
  • There will be a break between arguments to allow furniture to be sanitized and attendees for the next argument to enter the courtroom

The guidelines also include provisions for ceremonial sessions of court—which have of course been put on hold as well during the pandemic.

These particular guidelines are set to expire on 15 June 2021.  We will keep you updated as further guidelines are issued.

Thank you to all of those who are working on these developments!

–Kip Nelson