Our next step in our comprehensive review of lag times at the Supreme Court is the average time from the Court’s order granting review to the filing of the Appellant’s Opening Brief. Absent any extensions, the appellant’s opening brief is due 30 days after the order granting review. (Rule of Court 8.520(a).)
From 1990 to 1996, grant-to-opening-brief was relatively static: 41.26 days in 1990, 46.71 days in 1991, 53.08 days in 1992, 45.76 days in 1993, 52.78 days in 1994, 43.77 days in 1995 and 53.77 days in 1996. In the three years that followed, the number edged up: 57 days in 1997, 65.06 days in 1998 and 72.07 days in 1999.
But the increase didn’t hold – from 2000 to 2005, the average declined: 62.35 days in 2000, 53.85 days in 2001, 51.1 days in 2002, 50.39 days in 2003, 48.96 days in 2004 and 45.75 days in 2005. In 2006, grant-to-opening-brief averaged 54.81 days. The next year, the average was 62.05 days. In 2008, the average was 65.45 days, but in 2009, it fell to 58.61 days.
The average hasn’t made a sustained move either up or down between 2010 and 2019. In 2010, the average was 60.71 days. In 2011, it was 68.48 days. In 2012, the average fell to 56.92 days. In 2013, it was 57.47. In 2014, there were 65.65 days from the grant of review to the opening brief. The average fell to 54.59 days in 2015 but rose to 68.32 days in 2016 and 70.5 days in 2017. The average fell back to 60.39 days in 2018 before rising a bit in 2019 (so far) to 66.17 days.
In our final Table, we review all the data in a single graph to see the long-term pattern. What we see is that there has been what appears to be a sustained uptick in the average number of days from grant of review to filing of the opening brief. In the early-to-mid-nineties, the average lapse of time was between forty and fifty days. Since about 2007, the average has tended to be between sixty and seventy days in most years.
Join us back here next time as we review the data for the next pair of guideposts for the Court’s civil cases – the average days between the filing of the opening brief and the filing of the last reply brief.