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.