Public Health

At least 2 federal appeals courts require vaccinations for oral arguments; other circuits differ

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Covid vaccine and a gavel

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Federal appeals courts “are implementing wildly different responses to the delta variant surge," according to an analysis by Law360.

The article, published on Aug. 20, identifies two federal appeals courts that require lawyers delivering in-person-oral arguments to submit proof of vaccination. They are the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, planning to begin in-person arguments on Oct. 4, and the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, planning to begin in person-arguments on Sept. 20.

The 10th Circuit is requiring all members of the public to get vaccinated for entry to the Byron White United States Courthouse in Denver. The 7th Circuit, meanwhile, is generally requiring vaccination for court employees at the Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago and for lawyers at in-person oral arguments. All persons in public areas at both courthouses must wear masks in public areas.

But vaccinated lawyers don’t have to wear masks in the courtroom or lawyers’ lounge at the Dirksen building in Chicago. Vaccinated lawyers at the Denver federal courthouse may remove their masks at the oral-argument lectern at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Lawyers who aren’t fully vaccinated in the 7th Circuit must present oral arguments remotely. In the 10th Circuit, unvaccinated lawyers must file a motion for leave to appear via video.

Two other circuits require a vaccine or negative COVID-19 test with the last 72 hours before oral arguments. They are the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has in-person arguments this month, and the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was still holding oral arguments by Zoom when contacted by Law360.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, meanwhile, plans to require a vaccination or negative test within the last 48 hours when it resumes in-person arguments on Aug. 30.

At the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which resumes in-person arguments on Aug. 30, masks are required in public areas, but not when lawyers are presenting arguments.

Several federal appeals courts are pushing back oral arguments until late October or November, and their vaccination policies are not yet in place.

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