Ninth Circuit Allowing Video Oral Argument

in at least some cases (for now).


At least two orders from last week state,

The court understands that local health directives, personal preference, and other conditions may make travel inadvisable for certain attorneys, especially those located in the Puget Sound area. Any attorney wishing to appear at argument via telephone conference is permitted to do so. Any attorney wishing to appear at argument via video is permitted to do so, so long as the video connection is compatible with the courts system. Attorneys from Washington State may also appear via video from the Nakamura US Court of Appeals Courthouse in Seattle, Washington. Any attorney wishing to appear via telephone or video shall advise the clerk of the court no later than March 16 via a written request.

Last week's reference to the Puget Sound now sounds quaintly old-fashioned, though note that even then the order applied to "Any attorney."

In both cases, argument was postponed rather than going on by video, but presumably the court is open to conducting video arguments in the months to come. If you know of any appellate video arguments that have already taken place, please let me know. No videos of arguments have been posted to the Ninth Circuit site since March 12, though I'm not sure if that means that no arguments have taken place, or if there is just a delay in posting.

NEXT: Some Implications for Executive Adjudication

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  1. I wonder how much COVID19 will permanently change the practice of law. Besides for allowing oral argument by video, COVID19 is causing many courts to dispense with routine case management conferences. Also, judges that required courtesy copies of electronically filed documents are suspending that requirement out of fear the courtesy copies may have infectious materials. It could be that when COVID19 is over, the rules will go back to how they were before. However, I suspect that there were psychological barriers to change. Once COVID19 forced the changes, judges will find many of them acceptable.

    1. Yes, that’s my suspicion as well.

      1. This is all good. In stages where you are taking live testimony and arguing facts I see the value in live testimony. Body language can be revealing (but unfortunately often misconstrued). But when arguing law I don’t see why it can’t be done remotely. The judges (or justices) should be able to evaluate the legal argument regardless (irregardless?) of if the arguments are made in person. In fact I think it might be better.

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