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Maine Supreme Court Suspends Oral Arguments

The Maine Supreme Court was supposed to hear oral arguments in several cases this week, but they have been postponed until after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Usually the court gets written arguments in a case followed by oral arguments. But Acting Chief Justice Andrew Mead says justices will be deciding cases only on the basis of written arguments, called briefs, without the benefit of questioning the lawyers in oral arguments. He says it’s all part of the court trying to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“What we have done with those is rather than delay justice, we are going ahead with shifting them from the oral arguments format to the briefs format,” he says.

Mead says the court will likely continue that shift until it gets further guidance from public health officials. He says the justices have also changed how they discuss and decide cases. Instead of meeting in a very small conference room, they are discussing and deciding cases by video conference.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.