A couple years ago, I put together a post about some of the best features of other federal circuits’ websites. One thing I noted was how much easier to use other circuits’ online argument calendars were. The Third Circuit’s old online calendar told you only two things about each case:
- the short caption, and
- the case number
That meant if you wanted to find out if any upcoming oral arguments were of interest, you had to trudge, case by case, through Pacer to find out what the appeal was about and who the lawyers arguing it were. What a slog.
The upshot? As I said at the Judges and Journalists event in November, following the Third Circuit was like driving a car down the highway with the windshield painted over. You could look in the rearview mirror to see what just happened (opinions), but it was a lot harder to find out what was about to happen (oral arguments).
Hurrah! The Third Circuit recently updated its online argument calendar, and what an improvement. Now, for each argued case, the online calendar will tell you:
- the case number
- each party
- each arguing attorney
- brief statements of the appellate issue by each side
Knowing the issues and the lawyers makes all the difference in making it feasible for lawyers, journalists, and the public to follow the work of the court at the argument stage.
To get these details for each case, you click on the case list link on the main page, then click on the case list link on the next page, then, on the arguments page, click on the arrow on the far left next to the case number you’re interested in.
My modest suggestions for improving the online calendar even further:
- cut out the unnecessary intermediate page between the calendar and the arguments page; and
- instead of having a separate arguments page for each day, it would be easier if an entire week’s arguments were on one page.
I don’t know this, but my hunch is that new Chief Judge Smith had a hand in making this happen. I’m sure implementing this change and entering all the case date is a lot of work for the circuit staff.
I appreciate everyone’s work who made this happen, and I applaud the court for this important upgrade.