Making the Oral Argument in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals - U.S. Fourth Circuit
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Making the Oral Argument in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

So, you want to argue your case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The opportunity to present oral arguments isn’t granted liberally. Here’s what you need to know about presenting oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Request the oral argument. You may cite an argument as to why your case should be heard orally at the end of your brief. Draft your brief attentively. You might not be granted a chance to present your oral argument, and your brief might be all you have to go on.
  • When oral arguments are allowed. Oral appeals are allowed in all appeals that are not frivolous, where the dispositive issue (or set of issues) has not recently been authoritatively decided, or the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record, (thereby eliminating the need for oral argument). A three-judge panel will decide whether your brief merits oral argument.
  • Expediting the argument. You can submit a motion to expedite. In that motion, you must state all the reasons for expediting, the availability of parties to present the appeal and the need for oral argument. You must also state the position of opposing counsel.
  • Advance notice. You will receive an advance notice of at least 10 weeks if your case has been assigned to a particular argument session.
  • Registration on the day of argument. You must register at least 30 minutes in advance on the morning of argument. Upon registration, you will learn of order of appearance, courtroom assignment and allocation of oral argument time.
  • Timers. A timer light will show green until five minutes are left of your argument time. Once five minutes are left, the light turns yellow. Normally, you’ll have 20 minutes to make your argument, unless it’s an en banc case, when you’ll have 30 minutes.
  • Other matters of etiquette. Fourth Circuit judges come down from the bench to shake hands with counsel, after argument.

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