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Judicial Controls and the Civil Litigative Process Motions

NCJ Number
P R J Connolly; P A Lombard
Date Published
91 pages
This report discusses the findings from a study on motions which examined the effects of different methods of managing motions on the elapsed time from the filing of the motion to the ruling.
The six sampled courts are in eastern Louisiana, central California, southern Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, and eastern Pennsylvania. No court used exclusively either the motions-day or the ad hoc procedures. The extent of opinion drafting in a court affects ruling time performance. Mean ruling times varied from 27.4 days in eastern Louisiana to 92 days in Maryland. The mean elapsed time from the filing of the motion to the filing of the opposition brief ranged from 12.2 days in southern Florida to 38.4 days in Massachusetts, while the time that judges deliberated on written submissions motions varied from 34.6 days in southern Florida to 139.5 days in eastern Pennsylvania. Oral proceedings were used an average of 20.7 to 23.5 days into the future in the motions-day courts, while the range in the written submissions courts was from 14.4 to 32.5 days. All of the courts, except those in Pennsylvania, ruled from the bench on a majority of motions with a range of 54.8 percent in Massachusetts to 86.1 percent in eastern Louisiana. Those motions taken under advisement awaited a ruling an average of between 16.9 days in southern Florida and 104.1 days in eastern Pennsylvania. The report concludes that written submissions procedures can deliver rulings as quickly as motions-day procedures if they are administered effectively. The advantage of the motions-day system is its simplified, self-enforcing administration, a feature that better guarantees a speedy ruling. Achievements under either procedure will be affected by the judge's perception of the need to draft opinions. Tables and footnotes are included. (Author abstract modified)


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