What’s the Average Wait from Oral Argument in Death Penalty Cases to the Court’s Decision?

Today, we’re concluding our trip through the death penalty lag time data with a look at the final step in capital litigation: the average wait from oral argument to decision.

In 1990, the average wait was 186.42 days (the result of an outlier case). In 1991, the average was 60.16 days. The average was then in the mid-fifties from 1992 to 1995 before jumping to 82 days in 1996, 72.07 in 1997, 77 in 1998 and 82.33 in 1999.

The average wait was 67.6 days in 2000 and 62.91 in 2001. The average was then in the seventies each year from 2002 to 2008. The average wait was 69.8 days in 2009.

The average wait from oral argument to decision remained in the mid-seventies range from 2010 to 2014. It rose to 79.76 in 2015, 80.25 in 2016, 87.82 in 2017 and 86.57 days in 2018. So far this year, the average wait from oral argument to decision in death cases is 90.2 days.

Join us back here next Thursday as we continue our review of lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Michelle Kinsey Bruns (no changes).

Is There any Relationship in Death Penalty Cases Between the Lag Time from End of Briefing to Oral Argument and the Case Result?

Last week, we reviewed the data for the average wait between the end of briefing in death penalty cases and the oral argument. Today, we’re looking at a related question – does the lag time between briefing and oral argument suggest anything about the ultimate result in the case?

We divide the data into four categories: affirmed (“A” in the table), reversed in part with the penalty affirmed (ARC), reversed in part with the penalty reversed (ARL) and reversed outright (R below). Because the second, third and fourth of these results are comparatively rare, our data should be taken as tentative only – very high (or low) averages for partial or full reversals can be driven in any single year by just one or two cases.

In 1990, ARC partial reversals and outright reversals involved significantly longer lag times than complete affirmances (or ARL partial reversals). The following year, both ARC partial reversals and outright reversals involved longer waits than affirmances; but in 1992, neither did. In 1993, reversals involved a month longer wait than affirmances, and ARC partial reversals involved a far longer wait. In 1995, both ARC and ARL partial reversals involved significantly shorter waits than affirmances. In 1996, ARC partial reversals involved much longer waits than affirmances. In 1997, both ARL partial reversals and outright reversals took longer to reach oral argument, but ARC partial reversals were slightly quicker. In 1998, reversals took nearly four times as long to reach argument as affirmances.

There was no consistent relationship between the lag time and the result between 2000 and 2009 either. In 2000, affirmances took much longer, but in 2001, ARL partial reversals took somewhat longer. In 2002, affirmances took substantially longer than either kind of partial reversal. The same was true in 2003. In 2004, partial reversals reversing the death penalty waited for argument nearly a year longer than affirmances. In 2005, the lag time was almost identical for affirmances and ARC partial reversals. In 2006, affirmances took longer than ARL reversals, but were significantly quicker than ARC reversals. In 2007, that result was flipped – affirmances were quicker than ARL partial reversals, but much quicker than ARC partial reversals. In 2008, full reversals waited the longest, followed by affirmances, then ARC partial reversals and finally, ARL partial reversals. In 2009, ARC partial reversals were a little more than two months slower than affirmances, but the two reversals were far quicker (the result of supplemental briefs filed not long before oral argument).

Once again, between 2010 and 2019, there was no consistent relationship between the lag time from briefing to argument and the case result. In 2010, ARC partial reversals took significantly longer than affirmances. In 2011, both ARC partial reversals and ARL partial reversals were much slower than affirmances. In 2012, ARC partial reversals and outright reversals took much longer than affirmances, but ARL partial reversals were quicker. In 2013, ARC partial reversals took a little over a year longer than affirmances. In 2014, ARL partial reversals took longer than affirmances, ARC partial reversals were about equal to affirmances, and outright reversals were much quicker. In 2015, ARC partial reversals took longer than affirmances but ARL partial reversals were quicker. In 2016, ARL partial reversals were much slower than affirmances, ARC partial reversals were significantly quicker, and outright reversals were about equal to affirmances. In 2017, ARL partial reversals took slightly longer than outright affirmances, but ARC partial reversals were much quicker. In 2018, ARC partial reversals were about a month slower than affirmances and ARL partial reversals were much slower. So far in 2019, full affirmances have waited the longest – 1,003.2 days to 712.67 for ARL partial reversals and 345 for ARC partial reversals.

Join us back here tomorrow as we look at the lag time data for the final step in death penalty cases: the time from oral argument to decision.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait from the Filing of the Last Brief in Death Penalty Cases to Oral Argument?

Today, we’re continuing our review of the death penalty lag time data, looking at the average wait from the filing of the final brief – whether that’s the party reply brief or an amicus or supplemental brief – to the oral argument.

In 1990, the average was 225.23 days. It was 265.92 in 1991, 217.3 in 1992 and 301.29 in 1993, but from there it edged up: 385 in 1994, 339.47 in 1995, 807.38 in 1996, 572.14 in 1997 and 419.31 in 1998 before dropping to 372.83 days in 1999.

The average rose again between 2000 and 2009, and this time, it stayed up. It was 481.53 days in 2000, 799 in 2001, 657.57 in 2002, 707.5 in 2003, 670.24 in 2004, 297.88 in 2005, 892.79 in 2006, 758.22 in 2007, 836.27 in 2008 and 798.84 days in 2009.

The average wait for argument was 839.63 days in 2010, 795.4 in 2011, 791.48 in 2012, 1,007.72 in 2013, 890.35 in 2014 ,962.81 in 2015, 1,394.96 in 2016, 1,026.27 in 2017, 1,001.95 in 2018 and 812.33 so far in 2019.

Join us back here next Thursday as we continue our review of the lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jay Huang (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait from Filing the Reply Brief in Death Penalty Cases to the Filing of any Supplemental or Amicus Briefs?

Our next milestone in reviewing the lag time data for death penalty cases is the period from the end of party briefing – the filing of the reply brief – to the filing of the last supplemental or amicus brief (including replies to one or the other). Amicus briefs have been very rare in death penalty cases since 1990, but supplemental briefs are a bit more common.

The average wait was 790.32 days in 1990, 514.69 in 1991, 837.12 in 1992, 636.82 in 1993, 238.2 in 1994, 1,066.17 days in 1995, 1,663.5 days in 1996, 269.33 days in 1997, 261.5 days in 1998 and 378 days in 1999.

There were no amicus/supplemental briefs in death penalty cases in 2001. The average wait was only 58 days in 2000, 335 in 2002, 72.33 in 2003, 749 days in 2004, 439 in 2005, 336.25 days in 2006, 577.75 in 2007, 626 in 2008 and 642.56 days in 2009.

The average wait for supplemental briefing seems to have increased significantly in the past ten years. The wait was 742.1 days in 2010, 1,110.2 in 2011, 1,086.2 in 2012, 972.5 in 2013, 1,419.33 in 2014, 202 days in 2015, 664.33 in 2016, 594.5 in 2017, 1,202.5 in 2018 and 1,613.75 days so far in 2019.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data for average waits from the end of briefing (whether the party reply brief or the last amicus/supplemental brief) to oral argument.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait from Filing the Opening Brief to the Reply Brief in Death Penalty Cases?

Today, we’re reviewing the data for the average length of time party briefing in death penalty cases take – the lag time from filing of the opening brief to filing of the reply.

The average wait was 237.65 days in 1990, 334.92 in 1991, 399.5 in 1992, 354.12 in 1993, 323.43 in 1994 and 344.4 days in 1995. It rose to 726.38 days in 1996 but then fell to 490.21 days in 1997. The average was 459.46 days in 1998 and 558 days in 1999.

The average length of briefing was 522.4 days in 2000, 574.09 in 2001, 566.5 in 2002, 574.5 in 2003 and 558.19 days in 2004. In 2005, briefing averaged 481.38 days. It rose to 562.21 days in 2006. The average was 503.74 days in 2007, 601.27 days in 2008 and 617.4 days in 2009.

Party briefing averaged 690 days in 2010, 717.12 in 2011, 843 days in 2012 and 818.5 days in 2013. In 2014, the average was 967.91 days. In 2015, it was 944.81 days. In 2016, it was 883.39 days. In 2017, it was 865.45 days. In 2018, the average was 927.95 days. So far this year, the average has been 771.47 days.

Join us back here next Thursday as we continue to review the data for the Court’s death penalty cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ed Menendez (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait from Appointment of Death Penalty Counsel to Filing the Opening Brief?

This week, we’re continuing our review of the detailed lag time data for the Court’s death penalty cases. First up: the average wait from the order appointing death penalty counsel to filing of the opening brief.

During the 1990s, the average wait from appointment of counsel to the filing of the opening brief increased significantly. In 1990, the average was at its low point for the decade: 757.69 days. It rose to 900.57 in 1991 and 1,037.06 in 1992. The average was 989.94 days in 1993 and 1,061.43 days in 1994. It increased to 1,424.6 days in 1995. The average fell to 1,126.13 in 1996 but rose to 1,624.07 in 1997. The average wait was 1,420.23 days in 1998 and 2,175.67 days in 1999.

The average wait was relatively stable in the following decade. In 2000, the average wait was 1,739.4 days. It rose to 2,006.64 days in 2001. The average fell to 1,572 days in 2002, 1,615.5 in 2003, 1.786.48 in 2004 and 1,980.88 days in 2005. In 2006, the average was 1,634.42 days. In 2007, the average fell to 1,395.87 days. In 2008, the average was 1,588.73 days. In 2009, the average was 1,473.72 days.

The average wait time was 1,587.21 days in 2010 and 1,246.38 in 2011. The average was flat from 2012 to 2015: 1,814.76 days (2012), 1,825.78 (2013), 1,819.65 (2014) and 1,725.2 (2015). The average was 2,067.58 days in 2016. The average was 1,903.91 days in 2017. It rose to 2,170.95 days in 2018 before falling to 1,732.33 days so far this year.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the lag time data for death penalty party briefing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gail Frederick (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait in Death Penalty Cases from Filing of the Certified Record to Appointment of Direct Appeal Counsel?

Today, we’re tracking the average lag time from filing of the certified record on appeal to the order appointing direct appeal death penalty counsel. The average wait was 416.35 days in 1990, 735.24 in 1991, 620.48 days in 1992, 743.65 days in 1993, 673.29 days in 1994, 921.31 days in 1995, 542.63 days in 1996, 968.13 days in 1997, 975 days in 1998 and 1,360.17 days at the end of the decade in 1999.

The average between 2000 and 2009 was relatively steady, but remained at between two and a half and three and a quarter years: 1,161.87 (2000), 1,209.64 (2001), 1,007.43 (2002), 1,093.05 (2003), 1,250.86 (2004), 1,343.15 (2005), 1.079.79 (2006), 910.91 (2007), 1,158.96 (2008) and 1,204.04 days in 2009.

Although it’s been down a bit this year, the average lag time has increased to between four and four and a half years in the past ten years. The average was 1,314.83 in 2010, 1,486 in 2011, 1,638.28 in 2012, 1,645.72 in 2013, 1,732.45 in 2014, 1,398.76 in 2015, 1,798.48 in 2016, 1,645.7 in 2017, 1,799.5 in 2018 and 1,348.07 days so far this year.

Join back here next Thursday as we continue our review of the death penalty lag time numbers.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ted W (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait in Death Penalty Cases from Filing a Certified Copy of the Judgment to Filing of the Certified Record at the Supreme Court?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been reviewing the Court’s lag time data from one case benchmark to the next for both civil and criminal cases. In our next several posts, we’ll be looking at the Court’s recent history with death penalty cases. Today, we’re tracking the lag time between the first two steps in a death penalty case: from filing at the Supreme Court of a certified copy of the death judgment to filing of a certified copy of the record on appeal. For these purposes, we’re using the initial filing of the record, disregarding the not infrequent motions and requests for supplemental material.

As shown in the first table, the average wait increased sharply during the 1990s. In 1990, the wait was 483.88 days, but then it went to 848.17 (1991), 670.36 (1992), 946.82 (1993), 995.71 (1994), 1,244.8 (1995), 877 (1996), 1,456.27 (1997), 1,675.54 (1998) and 1,927.33 (1999).

The average went higher during the succeeding ten years. In 2000, the average wait for the record after filing of the judgment was 2,041.47 days. The average remained at close to the same level until the close of the decade: 2,016.36 (2001), 2,064.21 (2002), 2,315 (2003), 2,438.24 (2004), 2,713.63 (2005), 2,423.63 (2006) and 2,205.78 in 2007 before falling to 1,938 days in 2008 and 1,720.33 days in 2009.

However, the courts have made substantial progress bringing the average down in the past ten years. The average was 2,131.5 days in 2010 but fell to 685.19 in 2011. It rose back to 1,411.64 in 2012 and remained high for the next few years: 1,377.42 (2013), 1,186.7 (2014), 802.75 (2015) and 1,413.32 (2016). But in 2017, the average fell to 359.91 days. It was 747.25 in 2018 but has been only 464.6 days so far this year.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the numbers for the second step in death penalty cases – the average number of days between filing of the record and appointment of direct appeal counsel (or, when the counsel appointment order is filed first, the reverse).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait Between Oral Argument and Decision in Criminal Cases?

As we continue our review of the milestones lag time data from the Court’s past thirty years of criminal cases, in this post we’re looking at the average wait from oral argument to decision. Of course, Article VI, Section 19 of the California Constitution requires that criminal cases, just like civil ones, be decided within ninety days of submission. Occasionally, the Court either delays submission or vacates submission and starts the clock anew, but for the most part, this is a hard deadline for argument-to-decision.

In 1990, the average lag time was 97.12 days (an indication of an outlier case in the data). In 1991, the average was 55.47 days. The average stayed close to the same level for several years: 54.62 days in 1992, 52.42 days in 1993, 58.22 days in 1994 and 57.9 days in 1995. The average jumped to 83.43 days in 1996, but it fell to 68.82 days in 1997, 78.29 days in 1998 and 71.81 days in 1999.

In 2000, the average wait was 68.02 days. The next two years, it stayed about the same: 65.91 days (2001) and 69.69 days (2002). In 2003, it rose to 79.29. In 2004, it was 74.08. In 2005, it was 73.23. In 2006, it was 75.62. The average wait was 70.34 days in 2007, 70.21 days in 2008 and 69.23 days in 2009.

The average wait remained about the same from 2010 to 2016: 70.19 (2010), 70.22 (2011), 73.22 (2012), 70.54 (2013), 69.69 (2014), 71 (2015) and 77.17 days (2016). In 2017, the average wait rose to 83.9 days. In 2018, it was 84.66. So far in 2019, it has been 84.09 days.

Join us here on Thursday as we continue addressing the lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Miheco (no changes).

What’s the Average Wait Between Filing the Last Brief and Oral Argument in Criminal Cases?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been tracking the average time between each milestone of civil and criminal cases at the California Supreme Court, year by year since 1990. This time, we’re looking at the average wait from the filing of the last brief to oral argument in criminal cases. As before, for the moment we’re looking at all criminal cases – both death penalty and non-death. We’ll return to the data in the next few weeks and split out the numbers for the two.

The average wait edged up somewhat during the 1990s. In 1990, the average wait was 248.83 days. In 1991, it fell to 226.8 days and then to 218.91 days in 1992. In 1993, the average was 227 days. In 1994, it was 246.07 days. In 1995, the average dropped slightly to 242.16 days. There was a one-year spike in 1996 to 319.67 days, but then the numbers settled down: 257.81 days in 1997, 268.64 in 1998 and 291.96 in 1999.

Between 2000 and 2009, the average lag time was up considerably. The average was 326.58 days in 2000, 370.05 in 2001, 304.94 in 2002, 466.84 in 2003, 444.39 in 2004, 421.7 in 2005, 564.63 in 2006, 530.05 days in 2007, 566.05 days in 2008 and 488.52 days in 2009.

Lag time from the conclusion of briefing to oral argument has increased during the past ten years. In 2010, the average was 459.8 days. In 2011, the average rose to 594.04. The average fell to 425.57 in 2012 before rising to 566.02 in 2013, 547.98 in 2014, 528.17 in 2015 and 794.67 in 2016. The average fell to 492.83 days in 2017 but rose to 596.32 days in 2018 and 599.79 days so far in 2019.

Stay tuned for future posts to see whether the increase is being driven by death penalty cases, non-death cases or both.

Join us back here later this week as we continue to review the lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Prayitno (no changes).

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