In the 12 months ended June 30, 2015, the Sixth Circuit terminated 4,858 cases. Of the total cases terminated, 3,515 were terminated on the merits, meaning that they were terminated either through consolidation with another case, after the submission of the parties’ briefs, or after oral argument. A review of the judicial statistics surrounding the termination of the cases in the Sixth Circuit will provide an insightful look at the life span of cases before the court.
For all federal circuit courts, only about 19% of all cases terminated on the merits reached the oral argument stage. This number is slightly lower in the Sixth Circuit; only about 17% of cases are terminated after oral arguments. Conversely, nearly 79% of cases in the Sixth Circuit that are terminated on the merits are terminated after submission of the parties’ briefs. The discrepancy between methods of termination can largely be attributed to the fact that a large number of appeals are criminal appeals and approximately 80% of all criminal appeals are terminated after submission of the parties’ briefs in both the Sixth Circuit and in the circuit courts overall.
Removing all other types of cases, the frequency at which private civil cases reach oral argument across all circuits is over 41%, higher than any other type of case. Similarly, within the Sixth Circuit, nearly 41% of all private civil cases terminated on the merits were terminated after oral arguments.
Breaking down the facts even further, we wanted to know how frequently private civil cases reach oral argument as compared to all other types of cases. To do this, we compared the number of private civil cases terminated on the merits after oral argument to the total number of cases terminated after oral argument. This comparison revealed that, while the federal circuit court average is approximately 43.8% of oral arguments involve civil cases, nearly 54% of oral arguments in the Sixth Circuit are civil cases. The Sixth Circuit’s percentage of civil cases reaching oral argument was higher than any other circuit in the country.
As the Circuit has pared back oral arguments, it is becoming increasingly important to try to distinguish your case in order to receive a nod for oral argument. These statistics should shed some light on the overall process and enable counsel (and clients) to make informed decisions.