Friday, January 15, 2010

Average Time to Decide Appeals

As reported today in the New York Law Journal, during the work year that ended June 30, 2009, the average time to render a decision after oral argument for the  

First Department was 30 days
Second Department was 53 days
Third Department was 48 days
Fourth Department was 33 days

While the Courts' efforts to reduce the time to render their decisions are admirable and appreciated, they should not feel pressured to make it a priority to reduce their time frames any further.  None of these time frames in and of themselves are particularly troubling.  In fact, a longer time period might be preferable as it can be an indication, or at least project the feeling, that the Court spent a lot of time really pondering the issues raised on the appeal. On the other hand, a shorter time frame can leave the impression that the appeal was given short shrift.

At the end of the day, the public and practitioners are probably more focused on whether their cases have been taken seriously and their arguments truly considered.  The length of time it takes to render a decision can contribute to that sense, but what is more important is the substance and quality of the decisions themselves.  My guess is that most would be willing to sacrifice a bit of expediency, if it took a little longer (1-2 months) to produce more detailed decisions.  

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