The tradition of oral argument has been quietly falling out of favor in federal appeals courts.
According to the statistics from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, arguments were heard in just 20 percent of cases decided on the merits during the most recent 12-month cycle. That’s down from about 40 percent of cases 20 years ago. In the Third, Fourth and Eleventh Circuits, arguments are heard in fewer than 15 percent of cases.
It’s not just down as a percentage, either. The total number of oral arguments has also plummeted in the past two decades.
In this week’s Legal Speak podcast, San Francisco bureau chief Ross Todd examines the drop off and talks with James Martin of Reed Smith and M.C. Sungaila of Haynes and Boone about what will be lost if oral argument fades away.