The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued Temporary Courtroom Use Guidelines today for Spring Session 2021. The guidelines will be in effect for April, May, and June and will expire on June 15, 2021. The guidelines are subject to revision by the chief judge based upon evolving COVID-19 circumstances.
“Our goal with these guidelines is to safely ease back into having oral arguments in our courtroom,” said Chief Judge Donna Stroud. “Although we have been fortunate to be able to use remote arguments very effectively, our Court is working to resume the real open courts the North Carolina Constitution has guaranteed to the people of our state.”
The Court of Appeals’ temporary courtroom use guidelines include:
- In-person oral argument will occur only if all counsel agree. Remote arguments will remain available.
- Plexiglass screens will be placed at the bench, counsel tables, and podium.
- Counsel, judges, and attendees must have either been vaccinated or they must have a negative COVID-19 test within four days before the argument.
- Attendance at oral argument shall be limited to judges, staff, attorneys of record, and parties in the case being argued. The arguments will be live-streamed on YouTube.
- Temperature checks and social distancing are required. Masks are required although counsel may remove masks while arguing before the court.
- Hand sanitizer is provided at the courtroom entrance and on counsel tables. If more than one case is argued in a session of court, the courtroom will be sanitized between arguments.
After these guidelines expire in June, the Court will consider whether new guidelines will be needed for in-person arguments for fall 2021. This decision will be based upon evolving COVID-19 conditions and will be announced before court sessions resume in August 2021.