In our last post, we showed that the lag time from the order granting review in civil cases to the filing of the opening brief has edged up over the past thirty years by roughly twenty days. This time, we’re looking at the span for the next guidepost: the average number of days in civil cases from the filing of the opening brief to the final party brief. The minimum time for this metric, assuming no one files their brief early, is 50 days – 30 days from filing the opening brief to filing the respondent’s brief (Rule of Court 8.520(a)(2)) and 20 days from filing the respondent’s brief to filing the reply brief (Rule of Court 8.520(a)(3).)
In 1990, party briefing in civil cases averaged 72.29 days. It fell to 63.74 days in 1991 before bouncing back to 73.67 days in 1992 and falling again to 63.02 days in 1993. In 1994, the lag rose to 88.67 days before falling back to trend: 68.25 in 1995, 74.19 in 1996, 76.04 in 1997, 75.81 in 1998 and 72.88 days in 1999.
By 2000, party briefing had risen to 80.45 days. After bouncing around in the early part of the decade, a sustained increase took hold: 98.84 days in 2005, 88.66 days in 2006, 101.65 days in 2007, 112.78 days in 2008 and 95.3 days in 2009.
In 2010, the average lag was 104.98 days. It fell to 85.36 days in 2011 but bounced back to 101.16 in 2012 and 96.38 days in 2013. Since then, the lag for party briefing has remained high: 110.48 days in 2014, 100 in 2015, 123.3 in 2016, 113.64 in 2017, 110.76 in 2018 and 115.76 in 2019.
Finally, we report the entire thirty years on a single graph. The time required for party briefing has clearly been edging upwards over our period. In the 1990s, party briefing averaged 72.86 days. By the following decade, the overall average had risen to 93.15 days, with the number rising over 100 in 2007 and 2008. Between 2010 and 2019, the average time for party briefing has been 106.18 days: a thirty-four day increase since the 1990s.
Join us back here next week as we address the next two guideposts in the Court’s civil docket.