Monday, May 18, 2015
Courts - Revealing who will be sitting on a federal Court of Appeals panel
This question came up when the ILB was looking for the names of the judges who would be sitting on the 7th Circuit panel hearing the same-sex marriage appeals. We didn't know until the morning of the argument, when the names appeared on the court calendar.
But not all circuits do it that way, as Zoe Tillman reported May 18th in a long story in the National Law Journal. Some quotes:
Judge Frank Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit prefers the element of surprise. At least for oral arguments.
The Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago, doesn't reveal the identities of the judges assigned to a case until the morning of oral arguments. Lawyers, Easterbrook said, should "prepare to face the circuit as a whole."
"Even with this policy, many lawyers try to make judge-specific arguments ('You wrote the opinion that said…') and have to be reminded that opinions speak for the court, not for their authors," the judge said in an email to The National Law Journal. "Ad hominem arguments are out of place."
The Seventh Circuit is in the minority. Of the 13 federal appeals courts, only three — the Fourth, Seventh and Federal circuits — wait to disclose the three judges assigned to a case on the day it is argued. The other circuits reveal their panels days or weeks in advance.