Oral argument

On Zoom = on the air

Here’s another lesson for anyone participating in a Zoom oral argument: Always assume that your camera is on.

A lawyer in Michigan learned this lesson the hard way. While watching a Zoom oral argument, he experienced a technical glitch with his computer screen. In frustration, he gave his computer the middle finger. He didn’t realize that, despite whatever problems he was having with his display, his camera was working fine and was live. So the appellate panel saw his gesture and interpreted it as flipping off the court or his opponent (who was arguing at the time) and fined him $3,000. Stories about this incident are at the ABA Journal and the Detroit Free Press.

The lesson: If you’re on Zoom and don’t want to be seen, learn how to turn off your camera. If your camera has a built-in lens cover, use it; if not, consider using a sticky note to cover the lens. And if you share your computer with anyone, make sure no one has turned on a video filter.


Oral argument using ASL

The ABA Journal has an interesting article about a third-year law student who recently argued a case in the U.S. Fourth Circuit through American Sign Language. She used two interpreters: one to translate her argument into spoken English for the judges, and another to translate what other people said (the judges and opposing counsel) into ASL. To read the ABA Journal article, follow this link.


Direct link to La. 5th Circuit’s e-conference page

As readers of this blog know, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit held its May 2020 oral arguments by video conference, using the Zoom platform. The court’s web site has a page with general information for those wishing to attend a Zoom oral argument, but it’s hard to find (I couldn’t find a link to it from the home page). Not to worry, though; here’s a direct link to the court’s e-conference web page.


La. 1st Circuit background images for Zoom oral arguments

As discussed in a prior post, the Louisiana First Circuit is going to hold oral arguments in June by video conference, using Zoom. For lawyers participating in those arguments, the First Circuit offers some Zoom background images. They’re all taken within one of the First Circuit’s courtrooms from the perspective of the presiding judge. To view and download the images, follow this link.


La. 1st Circuit dockets 21 cases for Zoom oral argument

The Louisiana First Circuit has docketed 21 appeals for oral argument on June 16 and 18 by video conference, using Zoom. Each of the docketing notices includes the clerk of court’s instructions for participating in or attending the argument by Zoom and the Chief Judge Whipple’s order for attorneys withing to participate or attend.


La. 5th Circuit’s first round of oral arguments by video conference a success

In a May 9 press release, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit has announced the success of its first round of oral arguments by video conference last week. According to Chief Judge Susan Chehardy, video conferencing may be here to stay. 

While this success bolsters confidence in the Court’s ability to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Judge Susan Chehardy took a broader view, observing that the success of this technology “may be precipitating a sea change in court accessibility, not just in Louisiana, but nationwide.” She added that along with the Fifth Circuit’s eFiling and Case Management Systems,“this new technology is another valuable tool that helps support the Court’s commitment to providing fair, timely, and accessible justice.”

To read the entire press release (one page), follow this link.


U.S. Fifth Circuit offering live audio feed of oral arguments

Today I spotted this announcement on the U.S. Fifth Circuit’s home page:

Oral Argument Public Access

Members of the bar and the public may listen to a “live” audio feed from the oral argument proceedings being held April 27-30. See “Public Access Document” linked below for call in number and access codes. Access is limited to 100 participants at a time. The audio recordings will also be posted as usual the day argument on the oral argument recordings page: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/oral-argument-information/oral-argument-recordings.

To read the “Public Access Document” with the call-in instructions, follow this link.