What’s the Average Lag Time from Filing of the Reply Brief to Filing of the Final Brief (Whether Amicus or Supplemental)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the data for the average wait from filing of the opening brief to filing of the reply brief.  This time, we move to the next step: the average wait from filing of the reply brief to filing of the final brief – amicus or supplemental.

During the 1990s, the relatively few additional briefs in criminal cases typically occupied only four to seven months.  In 1990, the average was only 106.37 days.  It was 154.59 days in 1991, 261.73 in 1992, 192.92 in 1993 and only 125.93 in 1994.  The average was 156.65 days in 1995, 211.51 in 1996, 220.7 in 1997, 204.31 in 1998 and 142.17 days in 1999.

The wait edged up between 2000 and 2009: 222.98 (2000), 183.68 (2001), 180.37 (2002), 244.73 (2003), 239.76 (2004), 263.62 (2005), 291.44 (2006), 255.62 (2007), 296.12 (2008) and 319.36 days in 2009.

In the uncommon criminal cases where additional briefs were filed, the average wait has been over a year from reply brief to final brief in the past decade.  The average was 296.28 in 2010, 414.86 in 2011, 346.96 in 2012, 372.84 in 2013, 480 in 2014, 430.39 in 2015, 478.92 in 2016, 322.64 in 2017, 466.36 in 2018 and 409.52 days so far this year.

We end with the same caution as we began: these data are significant only for comparative trends – the evidence that the average lag time in cases with additional briefs seems to be edging upwards.  Any conclusions as to why that might be will have to await our posts in a couple of weeks separating out the data for non-death and death penalty cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Christopher Bowns (no changes).

How Long Typically Passes from Appointment of Counsel in a Criminal Case to Filing of the Opening Brief?

Today, we’re looking at the lag time data for the next step in a criminal case – the wait from the order appointing counsel to the filing of the opening brief (which is generally, but by no means always, by the defendant).  One very big caution with today’s numbers: for this post, we’re covering all criminal cases – both non-death and death penalty.  The lag time from appointment to filing the brief is typically far longer in death penalty cases than non-death cases, which moves the averages significantly up.  In the coming weeks, we’ll return to this metric and separate out non-death from death cases.

In 1990, the average wait from appointment to filing the opening brief was 730.74 days.  In 1991, it was 698.63 days, but it rose to 838.55 in 1992.  In 1993, the average was 582.8.  That was cut by nearly half in 1994 to 349.74 days but doubled to 728.53 days in 1995.  In 1996, the average was 387.36 days.  IN 1997, it was 875.68 days.  In 1998, the average was 612.59 days and in 1999, it was 596.75.

With the exception of a one-year spike in 2005, the average remained about the same from 2000 to 2009.  It was 719.61 days in 2000, 671.28 in 2001, 532.82 in 2002, 646.21 in 2003 and 695.18 in 2004.  The average jumped to 1032.96 days in 2005, but then receded to 742.2 days in 2006, 699.35 days in 2007, 805.89 days in 2008 and 710.41 days in 2009.

The lag time from appointment to filing the opening brief has increased significantly over the past ten years (a result we’ll be analyzing further when we split out the data for death and non-death cases).  In 2010, it was 748.35 days.  In 2011, it was 755.42.  In 2012, it was 734.83.  In 2013, it was 782.25.  But in 2014, the average wait was 956.67 days.  It fell to 789.53 in 2015 but rose to 1232.28 in 2016.  The average fell back to 724 in 2017 but rose to 1185.24 in 2018 and has been 1036.73 so far this year.

Tomorrow, we’ll review the data for briefing – the average time from the filing of the opening brief in criminal cases to the filing of the reply brief.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Pedro Szekely (no changes).

How Long is the Average Wait from Granting of a Petition for Review in Criminal Cases to Appointment of Counsel?

This time, we’re reviewing the lag time data for the second step in the typical non-death penalty criminal case at the Supreme Court: the average days from the order granting review to the order appointing counsel.

In 1990, the average wait was 44 days.  That fell to 35.33 in 1991 but rose to 60.82 the next year.  The wait was almost identical for several years after: 49.95 (1993), 49.16 (1994), 49.05 (1995) and 44.25 (1996).  The average wait was 55.79 days in 1997, 54.24 days in 1998 and 39.08 days in 1999.

The average wait to appointment of counsel trended down between 2000 and 2009: 43.77 (2000), 48.55 (2001), 35.3 (2002), 44.76 (2003), 31.18 (2004), 21.54 (2005), 26.12 (2006), 17.92 (2007), 38.72 (2008) and 25.21 days in 2009.

With only a single-year exception, the average wait for appointed counsel in criminal cases has remained at historically low levels for the past ten years.  From 2010 to 2013, the wait was less than a month: 24.39 (2010), 22.47 (2011), 25.98 (2012), 25.15 (2013).  In 2014, it jumped to 89.65 days.  The wait then settled down to 28.39 in 2015, 40.44 in 2016, 27.21 in 2017, 41.06 in 2018 and 29.73 days so far this year.

Join us back here on Thursday as we review the data for the average time from appointment of counsel to the filing of the opening brief.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Hollywata (no changes).

 

How Long is the Average Wait from Filing a Petition for Review in a Criminal Case to an Order Granting Review?

For the past several weeks, we’ve been reviewing detailed lag time data on the civil side.  Now, we’re going to look at the criminal side of the docket.  First up: what’s the average lag time from the filing of a petition for review to the order granting review?

The average progressively edged upwards during the 1990s.  It was only 34.96 days in 1990, 47.05 in 1991, 48.7 in 1992 and 49.38 in 1993, but moved into the fifties (59.58 in 1994, 58.06 in 1995, 54.22 in 1996) and sixties (60.57 in 1997, 62.11 in 1998 and 61.23 in 1999).

The average lag time was relatively consistent from 2000 to 2009, with a one-year spike halfway through the decade.  In 2000, the average wait was 66.9 days.  The next year, that fell a bit to 63.38, then to 60.81 in 2002.  In 2003, the average was 52.4 days.  In 2004, it fell to 50.77 days.  In 2005, the average was 52.03 days.  In 2006, there was a spike to 93.73 days, but the number immediately settled down: 56.8 in 2007, 60.32 in 2008 and 70.64 in 2009.

The average lag time from filing to grant order remained relatively consistent over the past ten years, this time with two one-year spikes.  In 2010, the average was 60.48 days.  It jumped to 94.58 in 2011 before settling to 61.3 in 2012 and 56.53 in 2013.  The average was 104.84 days in 2014, 59.17 in 2015, 61.23 in 2016, 59.33 in 2017, 56.88 in 2018 and 60.63 days in 2019.

Next time, we’ll continue our review of the criminal case data by looking at the numbers from grant of review to appointment of counsel.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Kyle Pearce (no changes).

Is the Lag Time from the End of Party Briefing to Oral Argument Correlated With the Degree of Disagreement on the Court?

Last time, we showed that the lag time from the end of party briefing to oral argument was longer for civil cases in which the Court was divided than cases which were ultimately decided unanimously. But is lag time related to the degree of disagreement? Do 4-3 decisions take the longest, or do 6-1 decisions get delayed because the Court is trying to find a path to unanimity?

We divide the lag time data into four groups: unanimous, one dissent, two dissents and three dissents. One caution about this data: now that we’re dividing the split decisions into three groups, the data sets for most years are quite small, so our averages have a degree of randomness built in. But let’s see what the data says.

In the nineties, there was very little indication that a one-dissenter case gets delayed while the Court seeks a path to unanimity. In 1995, 1996 and 1998, unanimous decisions had a longer lag time than one, two or three-dissenter civil decisions. Two dissenter cases took the longest in 1990, 1991 and 1993. Three dissenter cases averaged the longest lag times in 1992, 1994, 1997 and 1999.

The data was a bit less spread out between 2000 and 2009. In 2005 and 2008, unanimous civil decisions had the longest average lag time. In 2002 and 2004, one-dissenter cases took the longest. In only one year – 2009 – did 4-3 decisions average the longest lag time. Two-dissenter cases averaged the longest lag time five times: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2007.

Sharply divided cases have been relatively uncommon since 2010 – there were no 4-3 civil decisions in 2012, 2015, 2018 and so far in 2019. There were no 6-1 decisions in 2018. Over the past decade, unanimous decisions have averaged the longest lag time in 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019. One-dissenter cases took the longest in 2010, 2015 and 2017. Two-dissenter cases had the longest lag times in 2011 and 2012, and three-dissenter cases were the longest in 2014.

Overall, the data doesn’t seem to support a clear relationship between the degree of disagreement on the Court and the lag time from end of briefing to oral argument. In 10 of the past 30 years, two-dissenter cases took longest. But in 9 years, unanimous decisions took the longest. In 6 years, 4-3 decisions were the longest lag times. In only 5 of the past 30 years did 6-1 decisions take the longest.

Join us back here next time as we continue to study the Court’s lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bob B. Brown (no changes).

Is the Lag Time from the End of Party Briefing to Oral Argument Impacted by Disagreement on the Court?

Last time, we looked at the lag time from the end of party briefing to oral argument – our proxy for the period in which the Court tentatively decides the case – to see whether there was a correlation to the end result in the case. In other words, do affirmances or reversals consistently take longer to reach argument?

In the next two posts, we’re looking at a different question: is lag time impacted by disagreement on the Court? Today, we’re comparing the average lag time from the end of party briefing to oral argument for civil cases that were decided unanimously to lag time for non-unanimous decisions.

Between 1990 and 1999, non-unanimous decisions averaged a longer lag time in seven of ten years. But perhaps surprisingly, in many years, the effect is not especially high. In 1990, non-unanimous decisions averaged only seven days longer from briefing to argument than unanimous decisions did. In 1993 and 1994, the difference was twelve and eleven days, respectively. On the other hand, in 1997 and 1999, non-unanimous decisions took more than three months longer to reach argument – 104 days in 1997, 105 in 1999. Unanimous decisions took longer to reach oral argument in three years: 1995 (37 days), 1996 (22 days) and 1998 (44 days).

In the next decade, the split was the same – non-unanimous decisions averaged a longer lag time in seven years, unanimous decisions in three. But the differences were getting greater. In only two years was the difference between the two less than a month: non-unanimous decisions averaged 20 days longer in 2002, and non-unanimous decisions averaged 28 days longer in 2006. In four years, non-unanimous decisions took between one and two months longer to reach oral argument: 2000 (35 days), 2003 (47 days) and 2004 (54 days). In 2001, non-unanimous decisions averaged 61 days longer, and in 2007, the difference was 109 days. But in 2005, unanimous decisions took 88 days longer to reach oral argument. In 2008, the difference was 148 days. In 2009, it was still over three months: unanimous decisions reached oral argument in 94 days longer than non-unanimous ones.

In the past ten years, there’s been no clear relationship between disagreement on the Court and lag time from the end of party briefing to oral argument: in five years, non-unanimous decisions took longer, and in five years, unanimous ones did. The degree of difference is all over the map too. In 2010, non-unanimous cases took 30 days longer. In 2012, it was 36 days. In 2015, the difference was 31 days. In 2014, non-unanimous decisions took 214 days longer to reach oral argument than unanimous decisions did. But in 2017, for example, the difference was only 2 days. In 2011, unanimous decisions averaged 77 days’ longer lag time. In 2013, unanimous decisions took 195 days longer. In 2016, unanimous decisions took 84 days longer. In 2018, unanimous decisions averaged only 7 days longer, and so far in 2019, the difference is 38 days (with unanimous decisions taking longer).

What’s the bottom line – does a longer lag time suggest disagreement on the Court? In 19 of the past 30 years, non-unanimous civil decisions have averaged a longer lag time from end of party briefing to oral argument than unanimous decisions.

This suggests a follow-up question: is lag time correlated with the degree of disagreement on the Court? In other words – do 4-3 decisions take the longest, followed by 5-2 and 6-1? Or perhaps more lopsided decisions take longer because the Court is trying to reach unanimity? We take up those questions next.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Greg Balzer (no changes).

Can the Time from End of Party Briefing to Oral Argument Predict Case Results in Civil Cases?

Last week, we investigated whether the lag time from the end of briefing, including amicus and supplemental briefing, to oral argument suggests the likeliest result – in other words, do affirmances or reversals consistently take longer?

In Table 1160, we report the lag times from end of party briefing to oral argument, divided by civil affirmances, reversals and split decisions – partial affirmances, partial reversals.

In 1990, civil affirmances averaged 309 days from end of party briefing to oral argument. Civil reversals averaged 338.6 days. Split decisions – partial affirmance, partial reversals (a very small database in any particular year) averaged 424.14 days. For the entire decade, affirmances took longer in five years (1991, 1993, 1995, 1998 and 1999), reversals took longer in two years (1994 and 1996) and split decisions took longer three times (1990, 1992 and 1997).

Between 2000 and 2009, affirmances took longer in three years (2000, 2004 and 2005), reversals took longer in three years (2002, 2003 and 2007) and split decisions took longer in four years (2001, 2006, 2008 and 2009).

Over the past decade, affirmances took longer in three years (2010, 2013 and 2014), reversals took longer in two years (2015, 2016) and split decisions took longer five times (2011, 2012, 2017, 2018 and 2019).

Join us back here later this week as we turn our attention to the criminal docket data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jennifer Morrow (no changes).

 

The Parties Have Finished Briefing – How Long to Oral Argument?

Last time, we looked at the data from civil cases for the average lag time from the end of briefing – whether that’s the appellant’s reply brief or (much more often in civil cases) an amicus or supplemental brief – to oral argument. But what does the lag time look like if we measure the lag time from the reply brief, whether or not there are amicus briefs, to the oral argument? Is there a correlation between that measure of lag time and the result?

In 1990, the average civil case took nearly a year from the reply brief to oral argument – 345.79 days. That fell to 294.34 days in 1991 to 278.81 days in 1992 and was almost stationary for the five years that followed: 222.43 (1993), 223.39 (1994), 222.18 (1995), 215.42 (1996) and 208.98 (1997). In 1998, an average of 246.7 days passed from the end of party briefing to oral argument. In 1999, the average rose to 301.3 days.

The lag time from party briefing to oral argument increased steadily from 2000 to 2009: 347.04 (2000), 308.7 (2001), 287.56 (2002), 308.61 (2003), 357.04 (2004) 388.2 (2005), 387.81 (2006), 404.2 (2007), 416.75 (2008) and 403.5 days in 2009.

Although the lag time from the reply brief to oral argument has dropped several times in the past decade, the decreases haven’t been steady. In 2010, 408.12 days passed from reply brief to argument. In 2011, that was down to 323.58 days, but in 2012, it was up to 478.62. In 2013, the lag time was 385.78 days. In 2014, it was up to 433.3 days. In 2015, the lag time rose to 461.72 days. In 2016, it rose to 497.54 days. In 2017, the lag time was 454.98 days. In 2018, it rose to 489.09 days. So far in 2019, an average of 398.1 days passes from reply brief to oral argument.

Join us back here next time as we divide these data points by the result of cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by John Liu (no changes).

Does the Time from End of Briefing to Oral Argument Predict the Result in Civil Cases?

In previous posts, we’ve suggested that the period from the end of amicus/supplemental briefing to the oral argument is a reasonable proxy for the Court’s decisional period.  So, if we revisit the data, divided by affirmances, reversals and split decisions (partly affirmed, partly reversed) – can we predict the result based on the wait from briefing to argument?  Let’s review the data.

In Table 1154, we review the average days from end of briefing to oral argument, divided by affirmances, reversals and partly affirmed, partly reversed.  One caveat before we dive in – split results where the Court affirms in part and reverses in part are very rare in any particular year, so some caution is appropriate in reviewing that data.

In the 1990s, there was no clear association between lag time in the decisional period and the final result.  Affirmances took the longest in four years, split decisions took the longest in three years, and reversals took the longest in three years.  Note the wide divergences at times – in 1991, affirmances averaged 296.23 days, while split decisions averaged 168 days and reversals averaged 153.15 days.  In 1993, affirmances averaged 184.21 days to 105 days for splits and 117.21 days for reversals.  In 1996, affirmances averaged 132.6 days, split decisions averaged only 77.33 days and reversals averaged 207 days.

Between 2000 and 2009, affirmances took longest in four years, reversals took longest in four, and split decisions – partial affirmance, partial reversals – took the longest in two years.  In 2002, affirmances averaged 156.68 days, split decisions averaged 192.75 days and reversals averaged 246.86 days.  In 2003, reversals averaged 226.48 days, affirmances averaged 127 days and split decisions averaged 101.75 days.  In 2008, split decisions averaged 378.67 days, affirmances averaged 290.31 days and reversals averaged 257.43 days.  In 2009, reversals averaged 325 days, split decisions averaged 250 days and affirmances averaged 232.33 days.

Between 2010 and 2019, affirmances took longest in four years, reversals in three and split decisions in three.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 101 days from end of briefing to oral argument.  Reversals averaged 152.43 days while split decisions averaged 406 days.  The following year, affirmances averaged 208.71 days, reversals averaged 245.47 days and split decisions averaged 319 days.  In 2014, affirmances averaged 160.8 days, reversals averaged 296.67 days, but split decisions averaged only 88 days.  In 2015, reversals took 331.55 days, affirmances took 234.56 days, but split decisions averaged only 166.33 days.  In 2016, numbers jumped: reversals took 407.16 days, affirmances took 310.6 days and split decisions took 345 days.  In 2017, split decisions averaged 509 days.  Reversals averaged 385.56 days, while affirmances averaged only 344.18 days.  In 2018, affirmances averaged 296.5 days, reversals averaged 231.09 days, but split decisions averaged only 110 days (recall, the previous year, they averaged 509 days – a reminder that split decisions are a very small database in any given year).  So far this year, affirmances have averaged 295.4 days, reversals have averaged 259.77 days, while split decisions – partial affirmance, partial reversal – averaged only 134.33 days.

Join us back here next Thursday and we’ll further explore whether there’s any correlation between lag times and case result.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bureau of Land Management (no changes).

What’s the Average Time From Argument to Decision in Civil Cases at the Supreme Court?

Today, we’re reviewing the data for the average lag time between oral argument and decision in civil cases at the Supreme Court.

During the 1990s, the average time increased significantly.  In 1990, there was an average of 61.56 days’ wait from argument to decision.  That dropped to 59.23 (1991), 56.42 (1992) and 59.26 (1993), before gradually edging up to 64.57 (1994), 69.44 (1995) and 65.84 (1996).  In 1997, the average lag time was 73.24 days.  In 1998, the average rose to 76.15 days.  In 1999, the average was 72.98 days.

For the most part, the average remained in the 70-day range between 2000 and 2009.  In 2000, the average was 76.35 days.  In 2001, it dropped slightly to 69.65 days.  From 2002 to 2005, the average stayed over 70 days – 75.46 days (2002), 74.05 days (2003), 71.64 days (2004) and 70.02 days (2005).  The average fell to 67.68 days in 2006, but rose to 70.13 in 2007 and 72.35 in 2008 before falling a bit to 68.25 days in 2009.

Between 2010 and 2013, the average wait dropped a bit: 64.4 days (2010), 61.33 (2011), 69.5 (2012), and 69.63 (2013).  For the rest of the decade, the average remained at the trend level – 70.35 (2014), 74.81 (2015), 78.97 (2016), 78.81 (2017), 79.18 (2018) and 79.48 (2019).

In Table 1153, we report the entire thirty years’ data in a single Table.  The data shows the gradual increase from an average lag time of 60-70 days from argument to decision until about 1995 to an average of 70-80 days for the remainder of the period.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review a new question about our lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Darron Birgenheier (no changes).

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