(Posted July 24, 2020) The opinion mill at Ninth and Franklin has been quiet for a couple of weeks, so let’s look around the landscape and see what else is happening.


Fourth sticks with remote arguments for now

The Fourth Circuit announced on Wednesday that its next oral-argument session won’t feature in-courtroom appearances. Appeals slotted for arguments September 9-11 “will be scheduled for argument by video-conference or teleconference, submitted on the briefs, or continued to a later session, at the direction of the panels in each case.” The notice assures courtwatchers that it will live-stream the audio of each remote argument.


Updated FAQ page from the Court of Appeals of Virginia

The CAV this week updated its helpful listing of frequently asked questions. The page confirms that the CAV won’t resume in-court oral arguments until at least November.


A promising leading indicator?

After a long dry spell – only seven writs granted in 3 ½ months – it’s raining writs at Ninth and Franklin. The SCV has awarded 21 appeals since late June. And incoming business is good enough that the justices have added a writ panel on August 13. The court will convene three panels on September 2, as previously scheduled. One casualty of the pandemic is the court’s late-summer road shows, where the court convenes two panels outside Richmond. There’s no formal announcement of this, but I believe it’s overwhelmingly likely that the August and September panels will be by teleconference or audioconference. We’re probably still a ways away from in-court appearances.

That being said, I’ve been eyeing the calendar nervously throughout the suspension of jury trials. No trials mean no final judgments, and no final judgments mean no appeals. (There are a few judgments over this span from nonjury rulings, so the faucet isn’t off completely.) The usual lead time of an appeal portends a real slowdown in the Supreme Court’s October 20 and December 1 panels, and a corresponding reduction in the size of the April and June sessions next year. Maybe it’ll be a good time for appellate lawyers to write that novel …