Fed. Circ. Extends Pandemic-Related Closure Through Oct. 19

By Britain Eakin
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Law360 (September 11, 2020, 7:38 PM EDT) -- The Federal Circuit said Friday the court will remain shuttered to the public through Oct. 19 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tacking on an additional month to an earlier closure order that was set to expire Monday.

The closure will also apply to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, according to the two-page order signed by Chief Circuit Judge Sharon Prost and Chief Judge Margaret M. Sweeney of the federal claims court.

"Based on continuing declared public health emergencies impacting Washington, D.C., and the national capital region, as well as ongoing efforts to mitigate community transmission and the impact of COVID-19, there is an ongoing need ... to continue to restrict public access," the order said.

The court has said access will be limited to court staff, but it will consider other access requests on a case-by-case basis.

The closure guidelines at the Federal Circuit have been consistent since it issued an order March 18 canceling all in-person hearings in April, switching to a telephonic format for some cases and deciding others on the briefs. The court has since issued successive orders restricting access and extending the cancellation of in-person hearings.

The court's Sept. 11 order extending the court's closure comes as the U.S. COVID-19 death toll creeps toward 200,000, with Johns Hopkins reporting more than 6.4 million confirmed cases and 192,448 deaths as of Friday afternoon.

--Editing by Stephen Berg.

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