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Omicron Prompts Remote Arguments in N.Y., Other Circuits (2)

Dec. 29, 2021, 4:27 PMUpdated: Dec. 29, 2021, 10:58 PM

The New York-based federal appeals court and the Chicago-based circuit will hold oral arguments remotely beginning in January, as Covid-19 infections rise amid the spread of the more transmissible omicron variant.

The Manhattan-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which
is a chief venue for cases involving corporations and Wall Street, will begin virtual arguments on Jan. 4.

The Seventh Circuit will hold phone or video arguments through Jan. 31. The Washington-based Federal Circuit announced this week that it would hold arguments for its January session by phone.

Spread of the new variant has prompted some courts to change their pandemic protocols. Other circuits have made changes, but have yet to alter oral argument plans.

The Fifth Circuit closed its courthouse to the public until further notice beginning Jan. 3 as a result of the resurgence in cases. Its oral arguments will still be held by video or in person.

The Ninth Circuit, the largest U.S. appeals court, is planning in-person arguments in January, the circuit’s clerk of court Molly Dwyer said this week. Lawyers in the Ninth Circuit already have an option to appear by video. The court also recently started requiring booster shots for those entering the court to be considered “fully vaccinated.”

The Eleventh Circuit is continuing its policy allowing panels to determine whether the argument will be held in person or remote, said Kate Adams, circuit attorney adviser and director of workplace relations.

The U.S. Supreme Court returned to in-person arguments in October and plans to stick with them into the new year, the court said earlier this month.

The justices are scheduled to hear arguments Jan. 7 on the Biden administration’s Covid-19 shot-or-test rule for large employers and its separate vaccine mandate for health-care workers.

(Updates with Second Circuit announcement.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com