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Listen for free to 4th Circuit arguments

Just in time for arguments in two federal health care lawsuits, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is poised to post audio of its proceedings on its website.

Don’t expect live feeds from the courtroom, though. Audio files generally will appear on the website two days after argument. “Audio files for high profile cases may be posted earlier,” the court says. It’s planning on making the arguments in the health cases available by 2 p.m. on May 10, only a few hours after the arguments, which begin at 9:30 a.m.

The court already has two oral argument sessions posted on its site, apparently to test the technology. One involves the case of Elaine Cioni, convicted of waging a campaign of electronic harassment against a former boyfriend. The other case involves tort claims for contamination of a public water supply.

(To access the audio, select “Argument Calendar” from the court’s home page and then click the link to “Listen to Oral Argument…”)

Free web audio is a welcome alternative to paying $26 for an audio CD of oral argument, although the CDs still are available from the court. Because the audio is in the widely used mp3 format, you can listen at your computer or save the recording to listen on your iPod or burn your own CD.

One tip from an advocate who bought a CD of his oral argument years ago – don’t expect the family to gather round with rapt attention as you play back your courtroom persuasion.  Home entertainment it is not.

Another tip from the court – avoid blurting out information protected from disclosure under the rules. This could include names of minor children, juvenile records, and identifying information about jurors.

By Peter Vieth

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