Last year, I spent some time looking at the Ohio Supreme Court’s response to motions to reschedule oral argument. There have been another few requests lately, and it is worth seeing if we can divine any potential outcomes.
If you’re not up to speed on the process, the Ohio Supreme Court generally denies motions to reschedule oral argument. This stated preference begins in S.Ct.Prac.R. 17.01(D):
An oral argument assignment before the Supreme Court takes precedence over assignments in other courts of this state.
Recent requests to defer oral argument
In M.R. v. Niesen, the court rejected an appellee’s request to move oral argument based on the counsel of record having “an arbitration in a complex construction matter.” The appellants and amici opposed the request, noting that the requesting counsel had substituted in as counsel of record on the same day as the motion to reschedule. This means he accepted the representation already knowing he had a conflict.
In State v. Brooks, the court rejected an agreed motion to continue oral argument filed 53 days before the scheduled date, premised on the concern that appellant’s counsel would only be returning from medical leave six days before the argument. In response, appellant’s counsel (at the State Public Defender’s office) was substituted in and the argument occurred as scheduled.
It’s not impossible to get oral argument rescheduled, however. In Goree v. Northland Auto Enterprises, the court granted a joint request to reschedule oral argument because it was scheduled for Rosh Hashanah and appellees’ counsel were all of the Jewish faith. The stay was a good one, as the docket indicates the case settled before oral argument occurred.
For those of you who preferred virtual oral argument, at least in tax cases involving a hearing or argument before a master commissioner, the court has twice approved shifting an in-person session to a virtual one: Karr v. McClain and Cincinnati Fed. S&L v. McClain.
If you are trying to derive a rule on whether or not oral argument will be rescheduled, it appears to be this: no, unless it is a religious holiday or a medical emergency. Even joint or unopposed requests are routinely rejected. Concerned clients should always make sure their legal team has sufficient bench strength to ensure an unavailability issue never compromises the quality of oral argument.