Appellate Insights

Jul 09, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
July COVID Updates

Rules and practices in the California Courts of Appeal have changed almost weekly since March.  Here is the latest:

  • Most appellate courts are now conducting video oral arguments, livestreamed on their websites.  The Sixth District (San Jose) is still using phone conferencing, and the Third District (Sacramento) has not yet decided whether July arguments will be by video or phone.
  • Appellate panels generally are asking far fewer questions than they did at in-person arguments.  Many justices find it harder to interrupt counsel presenting remotely – but questions will likely increase as the justices gain experience with remote arguments.
  • Courts are phasing out COVID-related automatic briefing extensions.  The rules vary by district, however, requiring close study of the relevant emergency orders.
  • Many courts’ appeal-processing time has sped up significantly, including faster setting of oral arguments after the close of briefing.

►  The practical message:  Local practices in California’s appellate courts have always mattered, but the pandemic has emphasized distinctions.  Ensure that you know where to find current answers on the many changing logistics.