Locke Lord QuickStudy: Federal Appellate Courts’ COVID-19 Orders

Locke Lord LLP
April 8, 2020

If you have a brief due or deadlines running in one of the Federal Appellate Courts, you will want to check the court’s website to determine the procedures the court has adopted during the COVID-19 crisis.  The courts frequently, but do not always, have their COVID-19 orders prominently displayed on their home pages.  Most of the courts have restricted access to their courthouses and suspended the filing of paper copies of electronically-filed briefs and appendices.  Many courts have postponed oral arguments or moved them to telephone or video conference.  Some courts have extended deadlines.  Here is a breakdown:

  • Supreme Court.  The Court has postponed its March and April oral arguments, but will consider rescheduling some cases from those sessions before the end of the Term, if circumstances permit.  Order of April 3.  The Court stated it will “consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the Courtroom before the end of the Term.”  It has not identified whether these “other alternatives” include video conferencing for oral arguments, but it did note that “most Court personnel are teleworking.”  The Court has also extended time for filing petitions for a writ of certiorari due on or after March 19 to 150 days from the date of the judgment or other triggering order.  Order of March 19.  The Court generally will grant extensions as a matter of course for a reasonable period if the extension is sought because of difficulties relating to COVID-19.
  • First Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court cancelled its April sitting.  The deadlines for briefs, appendices and petitions for rehearing due between March 26 and April 24, 2020 are automatically extended for 30 additional days, so long as the case (1) is not presently calendared for oral argument, (2) has not been argued before a panel, or (3) is otherwise not expedited.  Order of March 26.  The order does not affect deadlines for notices of appeal and other documents that confer jurisdiction on the Court.  Nor does the order affect due dates for stays in immigration cases.   The Court will re-evaluate in mid-April 2020 whether the continued automatic extension of scheduling deadlines is necessary.
  • Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court is continuing to hear oral arguments, but by using a teleconferencing platform.  On March 16, the Court ordered a 21-day extension of time for all filings and deadlines beginning March 16 and continuing through May 17.  For example, deadlines originally occurring March 16 were moved to April 6, 2020.  Click here for these and other instructions.  The Court warned that further extensions would require extraordinary circumstances, and advised that it does not anticipate issuing an order that further extends all filing dates and other deadlines.  The Court has also limited the filing of paper copies.  Order of March 26.
  • Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Third Circuit “remains open and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic,” though the clerk’s office is conducting operations remotely.  Order of April 1.  Counsel may file a motion requesting to appear by audio conference.  Notice Regarding Operations.  Any document filed within three days of its current deadline will be deemed timely without the need to file a motion unless the parties are advised otherwise.  Parties unable to electronically file are directed to an email address for filing in PDF format.
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Fourth Circuit postponed oral arguments starting with its March 17-20 setting and continuing through its May 5-8 setting.  The Court is, however, scheduling cases for remote oral arguments via video or teleconference.  The Court also has suspended the requirement of paper copies of briefs and appendices pending further notice and allows pro se parties to file via email.  Order of March 17.
  • Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Fifth Circuit cancelled its oral argument sitting for April 27-30 and will notify counsel concerning arrangements for those cases.  Order of March 25.  The Court has no other oral arguments scheduled at this time.  The mail operations at the clerk’s office are suspended, and pro se filers who are unable to electronically file documents have been granted a 30-day extension of time except with regard to notices of appeal and petitions for review.  The filing of paper copies has been suspended until further order.  Order of March 18.  Pro se litigants are allowed to file PDF documents by email.  See Fifth Circuit homepage.
  • Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.   The Sixth Circuit cancelled its oral arguments scheduled for March 17-20.  Order of March 16.  The requirements that non-prisoner pro se litigants file in paper format is suspended until April 17, 2020 and they may, instead, email documents in PDF format.  The Court has not made any announcements yet as to its April 27 – May 1 oral argument calendar.
  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  All cases scheduled for oral arguments from March 30 through the end of April 2020 will be argued telephonically.  See Seventh Circuit homepage.  Until further notice, paper copy requirements for electronically filed briefs, appendices and petitions for rehearing are suspended.  Order of March 31.  The suspension does not apply to cases currently scheduled for oral argument and paper copies must still be served on pro se parties.
  • Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court’s argument calendar for April 13-17 will consist of cases to be submitted without oral argument or to be argued via teleconference.  April Calendar Order.  Like many of the other courts, the Eighth Circuit has suspended the requirement for paper copies of briefs and addendums.  At a later date, the requirement will be reinstituted and parties then will have to file paper copies.  Paper copies will have to be filed and served on parties not filing through CM/ECF.  See Eighth Circuit homepage.
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Each panel will determine whether to submit its cases without argument, postpone argument, or hold argument via telephone or video conference.  Order of March 26.  The Court is evaluating cases one at a time and will issue orders in each case giving direction to the parties.  If a party needs an extension of time to file a brief due to COVID-19, the party must file a notice with the Court stating that it has logistical issues related to COVID-19 and that it requires a 60-day extension.  The filing will result in an automatic 60-day extension unless the Court notifies the party otherwise.  This automatic extension does not apply to cases previously expedited or to cases already assigned to panels.  Parties are not to submit paper copies of electronically filed briefs or record excerpts pending a further order.
  • Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court is assessing all cases set for argument in April and May to determine whether those cases will be argued telephonically, submitted on the briefs, or reset for a later date. The filing of paper copies of briefs, appendices, and petitions for rehearing en banc has been suspended.
  • Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Panels are authorized to hear oral arguments by audio or teleconferencing rather than in person.  General Order 45.  Where feasible, the arguments will be live-streamed at no cost to anyone who wishes to listen.  Parties filing through CM/ECF will not be required to file paper copies of briefs and appendices if the party files a notice stating they are unable to comply but will comply at a future date.  General Order 44.
  • District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.  All in-person onsite oral arguments are suspended pending further order of the Court.  Order of March 17.  Each panel scheduled to hear argument will determine whether argument will proceed by teleconference or be postponed, or whether the case will be decided without oral argument.  The filing of paper copies for electronically-filed briefs and appendices is deferred pending further orders, but parties may continue to submit those paper copies in the normal course.  Filing of paper copies for other electronic filings (such as motions, petitions for rehearing, etc.) is suspended pending further order.  Pro se parties may email filings to the Court as PDF files. 
  • Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  Cases set for the Court’s April sitting will be conducted by telephonic conference and no in-person hearings will be held. Live audio of the arguments will be available to the public. Requirements to file paper copies of electronically-submitted documents are suspended as of March 20.  The Court has created special procedures for filings by and service to pro se litigants and allows counsel to agree to alternative forms of service. These and other announcements can generally be found on the Federal Circuit’s announcements page.

For a list of COVID-19 orders from all the federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, click here.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.