The North Carolina Court of Appeals will resume its regular schedule of oral arguments in person when the fall session begins in August. The first arguments are scheduled for the week of August 10, 2021.
On June 21, 2021, Chief Justice Paul Newby revoked the remaining Emergency Directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic issued since March 2020, clearing the way for the Court of Appeals to resume its regular in-person operations. The General Assembly also adopted statutory amendments in June giving the courts authority to continue using remote hearings. The Court of Appeals may consider hearing oral arguments via Webex upon request of a party, as allowed by N.C.G.S. § 7A-49.6(a), (d). If a party intends to request a Webex hearing, the party should consult with opposing counsel and make the request promptly.
Starting in April 2021, the Court of Appeals heard most arguments by Webex but began hearing some arguments in person in cases where the parties requested in-person argument. For those cases in the spring of 2021, the Court had Temporary Courtroom Use Guidelines which required various safety measures, including limitations on attendance and requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccination. Those guidelines expired as of June 15, 2021, and will not apply to future arguments.
Chief Judge Donna Stroud noted, “The 15 judges of the Court of Appeals are looking forward to holding oral arguments in person in the fall. And although we are pleased to welcome attorneys, parties to cases, and the public back to our Court, we will also continue to use some innovations adopted due to the pandemic to the extent those innovations improve public access to the Court and improve the Court’s operations.”
In addition to the option of remote oral arguments held by Webex, another technological improvement to the Court’s operations which also began during the pandemic will remain in place, as all arguments, in-person or by Webex, will be recorded and livestreamed online. The livestream for each case will start when the argument begins and will be available for viewing at http://govu.us/nc-coa-oral-arguments.