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4th Circuit suspends oral argument rule

In another example of how quickly courts are moving to accommodate the need to practice social distancing in order to contain the novel SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has suspended a rule that requires parties to conduct oral arguments in order for an opinion in the case to be published.

The court’s March 23 order, signed by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, suspends Fourth Circuit Local Rule 36(a), which provides that the court will publish opinions “only in cases that have been fully briefed and presented at oral argument.”

“To enable the court to continue to issue opinions in accordance with its publication standards and in response to the need for social distancing to contain the novel coronavirus, the court temporarily suspends its oral argument requirement for published opinions,” the order reads. “Accordingly, cases calendared for oral argument in March or April 2020 but not presented at oral argument may be decided by published opinion with the unanimous consent of the panel.”

The order, Standing Order 20-01, takes effect immediately.

Staff reports

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