December 17, 2020 View from the Bench

Telephonic Hearings in a Pandemic

Tips to master oral argument in this unique setting during and even after COVID-19

By Hon. Karen L. Stevenson

For weeks, in much of the country, lawyers have been under stay-at-home orders, where they have juggled ongoing legal work, family, kids, client needs, and their own health and well-being. It has not been easy. And despite the unprecedented disruptions, litigation does not stop. That means hearings have also not ceased entirely.

On the occasions where civil hearings must be held, they are going forward telephonically.

On the occasions where civil hearings must be held, they are going forward telephonically.

Credit: chaofann | Getty Images

Federal courts around the country have had to quickly adapt to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the Central District of California, judges, law clerks, and court staff are largely working remotely. The federal courthouse is closed to the general public but remains open for essential proceedings, including criminal and emergency civil matters. That said, many, but not all, civil deadlines and motion calendars have been continued. There are still occasions where civil hearings must be held, and those are going forward telephonically. Here are some tips to master oral argument in this unique setting during and after the pandemic.

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