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Supreme Court holds remote arguments for first time ever


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Supreme Court held oral arguments in a new trial request Tuesday morning — albeit, remotely. 

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said it would hold oral arguments scheduled for April remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday was the first time Missouri’s highest court held arguments remotely through a “mix of technologies.” 

Chief Justice George W. Draper III was expected to preside from his usual perch on the bench, while the remaining six judges posed questions and heard arguments remotely. It’s unclear where exactly the other judges were located as they tuned in to Tuesday’s proceedings. 

Attorneys participated through video conference and experienced a few technical difficulties right out of the gate. 

Missouri is under a statewide stay at home order which instructs individuals to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping in line with recommendations made by the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

On the docket for Tuesday morning was State of Missouri v. Lamar Johnson, involving the power of circuit courts to dismiss a prosecutor’s motion for a new trial. Johnson is serving life without parole, but new evidence recently emerged putting his guilt in question.

The U.S. Supreme Court, too, has planned to hear arguments by teleconference in 10 cases next month. Justices and lawyers will all participate remotely, and the feed will be given to news outlets for publication, Reuters reported

Since March, more than 4,300 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 114 have died. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.