Citing the government shutdown, U.S. Justice Department lawyers urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to postpone certain cases set for hearings last week and through the end of this week.
The court, in at least seven instances and without comment, rejected the government's requests. The private lawyers in the cases were not entirely eager to have argument hearings pushed back to a date uncertain.
In one case, a dispute over Medicare payments, M. Miller Baker of McDermott Will & Emery's Washington office, said the challengers "have expended considerable resources preparing for argument and would be prejudiced by an unnecessary continuance."
In another case, a Louisiana-based lawyer, John Wells, told the court that he "regretfully" opposed the government's effort to postpone argument. Wells cited his travel schedule as among the reasons the court should not delay argument in the case, a Navy personnel dispute.
"Counsel regrets his inability to extend the normal professional courtesy to counsel for Appellees in this one instance," Wells wrote in court papers. A D.C. Circuit panel—Judge Judith Rogers, with senior judges Stephen Williams and Douglas Ginsburg—heard the case this morning.
Government lawyers did not file requests to postpone argument in three pending criminal cases. The court last week heard two disputes—one about a wiretap and the other a dispute over a life sentence in a drug case. The third case, also a sentencing dispute in a drug case, is set for argument October 11.
The D.C. Circuit has not said whether oral argument will continue after this week. A notice on the court's website said the judiciary will "reassess its situation and provide further guidance" after October 15.
The notice said that "all proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised."