After more than a year of remote oral arguments, the Supreme Court of North Carolina is ready for some face-to-face time.  Barring a COVID-19 resurgence, both the Justices and advocates will be back in the Justice Building during the week of August 30, 2021 for oral arguments.

In a change from pre-pandemic practice, specific argument times are assigned to each case being heard.  For example, on days when five cases are scheduled to be heard, the assigned timeslots are 9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.

One benefit is that advocates and their clients do not have to languish in the courtroom for hours waiting for their case to be heard—saving time for attorneys and money for their clients.  Some clients may even skip a trip to Raleigh by simply clicking on the Supreme Court’s YouTube page at the assigned oral argument time. This new schedule also helps the Supreme Court’s fabulous IT department coordinate argument live-streaming. Finally, the new schedule should help to reduce the number of people in the courtroom at the same time.  While I do not know whether this new scheduling practice is here to stay, it is certainly advocate-friendly.

After a year of remote oral argument, how to do you feel about this return to the old-normal? While hiding oral argument notes and hand-signals from co-counsel is not easy in the courtroom, I suspect most advocates are eager to get back to face-to-face oral arguments. Different thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

–Beth Scherer