COVID-19 and Appellate Practice

Holed up here in my home office like many of you, I thought it would be a helpful time to take stock of the current state of affairs in the courts of appeal during this pandemic. As with most of life, COVID-19 has disrupted normal operations, leaving all of us in a state of uncertainty. But here is where things currently stand:

In the Supreme Court, the March oral argument session has been cancelled – a highly unusual step, but one that happened previously with the Spanish flu in 1918. The Supreme Court has also issued a standing order extending some deadlines, including the deadline for filing a petition for cert.

The First Circuit, meanwhile, has posted a notice stating that the April 6-9 sitting has been cancelled. No blanket order has yet issued extending deadlines, however. That may change. [UPDATE: The First Circuit has extended deadlines for many filings due between March 26 and April 24, 2020.  The Court will re-evaluate continued extensions in April.  The extensions notably do not apply to notices of appeal and petitions for review.].

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has also issued an order changing normal operations, cancelling all oral arguments. Moreover, also by order of the Court, 49 calendar days have been added to unexpired deadlines for Law Court appeals.

Similar steps have been taken in Massachusetts (see here and here), New Hampshire (here and here), and Rhode Island (here).

Of course, all of this is developing rapidly, and it is critical to stay up to date with the most current developments.