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Recess is a break in a trial, other adjudicatory proceedings or legislative session until a specified date and time. Recess is not to be confused with adjournment, which winds up the proceedings. For example, the trial transcript of Gonzalez v. Douglas, a U.S. District Court of Arizona case, shows that the court stated “we will stand at recess until 1:30,” and that “a recess was taken from 11:57 a.m. to 1:32 p.m.” In the legislative context, the U.S. Constitution contemplates recesses between legislative sessions as well. Article I Section 3 states that “if vacancies [in the Senate] happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies”; Article II Section 2 states that “[t]he President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.”

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]