JUNE MARKS END OF COURTS’ TERMS
It isn’t only school that lets out in June; this month marks the traditional end of appellate courts’ annual terms and the beginning of their summer recesses. Today, June 5, is the start of the Supreme Court’s final session of the term; it will run through Thursday, June 8, which will be opinion day for the cases argued in the April session. The Court of Appeals convenes writ panels today in Alexandria and Wednesday in Chesapeake, followed by simultaneous panels on Tuesday, June 13, after which the court recesses until September. The Fourth Circuit has already heard its final oral arguments of the 2005-06 term, and won’t convene again until mid-September. And the Supreme Court of the United States, in keeping with tradition, will hand down rulings on its remaining cases by the end of June, and will then recess to the first Monday in October.
About the only business the appellate courts will conduct over the summer will be two sets of SCV writ panels (July 12-13 and August 30-31), and the gradual release of opinions by the Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit.
In case you think that’s an easy work schedule, think again; just because the courts aren’t in session doesn’t mean the rate of filings of petitions, briefs, and motions slows down. The judges and justices still have plenty of work to do (somebody’s got to read all those incoming briefs), and business in the Clerk’s Offices probably slows down not one whit.
One important programming note: It has finally happened. In the roughly 1 ½ years since I began same-day reporting on the Supreme Court’s opinion day, I finally have an unavoidable schedule conflict, in the form of a trial set for Thursday, June 8. That didn’t present a conflict at all as long as the previously scheduled opinion day of June 9 held, but the Chief Justice announced last month that the court would shorten the June session to four days. At least as of this point, my trial isn’t going away, so I will have other pressing business to attend to while the court hands down opinions Thursday morning.
No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave you in the lurch. When I return to the office Thursday afternoon, I’ll start digesting cases and will post analysis on as many as I can reasonably get to that day. I’ll then finish the project, and post commentary on all of the court’s decisions, by Friday, so in a sense, you’ll have the analysis more or less on time.