We have been following the average time from appeal to disposition for quite a few years now in response to the standard client question about how long an appeal will take. Back in 2011, we noted that the Sixth Circuit was averaging 15.5 months from the notice of appeal to the final disposition, and that this was second-longest in the nation. Only the Ninth Circuit took longer to decide appeals (16.3 months) with the fastest circuits (the Fourth, Tenth, and Eleventh) taking just over nine months to resolve appeals. Thanks to many initiatives, including having less oral argument and giving fewer extensions on briefs, the statistics from the Administrative Office for the United States Courts showed that the Sixth Circuit’s time to resolve appeals had lowered to 10.6 months as of September 20, 2013.
But statistics presented yesterday by Sixth Circuit Clerk Deborah Hunt at the Sixth Circuit Practice Institute show that the Sixth Circuit averaged just 9.9 months as of December 2013—and that the average for 2014 so far has been just 8.7 months. That would make the Sixth Circuit tied for the fourth fastest in the nation. It appeals that the circuit may be through the enormous backlog that was created when the court was severely understaffed at the beginning of the Bush administration, and which has slowed the resolution of new appeals ever since.
The quicker disposition of cases is both a welcome development as well as one that counsel (whose feet may be held closer to the fire) and parties should be duly cognizant of.