DELAY IN COURT CASES

There are, no doubt, the cynics who believe any delay in a case is due to an attorney trying to manage the file and make more money. But, in reality, much of the delay of most cases is out of either party's hands. First, there are delays built right into the rules of procedure. For instance, after filing a case, the plaintiff usually has several weeks to serve the lawsuit /plaint to the other party . The other side then gets several weeks to prepare a response to the case . That equates to almost a month, and the case has not progressed any further than pleading! Of course, if the defendant files a preliminary objection, such as objection to Jurisdiction, this time frame can be extended even further to allow time for a hearing, ruling, and amendment of pleading by one of the parties. It is not uncommon for the pleading stage of many cases to take 3 to 4 months by itself, or even longer.??Finally, when the parties are ready, it is time for the trial phase. While a trial can last for just a few hours to several weeks, depending on the issues litigated, getting an actual trial date can often be time consuming, as well. Often a hearing must be scheduled to discuss pre-trial hearings, conducting a mediation, etc. These pre-trial procedures often take several months by themselves, then one must find an available spot on the judge's trial calendar. Often, in busier jurisdictions, a judge may run a list of cases eligible for trial with the oldest one getting to go first during a judge's trial week. Unfortunately, this can mean waiting for months while older cases go to trial during a judge's limited trial weeks.??Once the trial is over, the case often is not yet over. There are still post-trial applications that may be filed, like challenging the verdict. If one party feels an error was made at trial by the judge, they might file an application for revision, review, or an appeal. An appeal starts a whole new series of legal proceedings that can last for months or years. If no appeal is filed, enforcing the judgment may also take time. Sometimes execution must take place and for such to take place application for execution must be filed and heard by the Court , after the application is heard, the court brokers need to locate a party's assets that can satisfy the judgment. Again, this process can take months or even years depending on how forthcoming the party and the Court broker is, and given the fact that most of these requests are also going to have a 14 days window to respond.??Consequently, before you get angry with your attorney about a case taking too long, be aware that he or she may have little control over that. The process takes time, and the bottle neck is usually at the courthouse. Remember, in most states the court system only takes in a small percentage of the annual budget (often as little as 5-8 percent) despite being 1/3 of the three branches of government. The courts usually do the best they can with limited resources, but the result in many jurisdictions is delay. Of course, some see this as a hidden blessing. If a case takes time, that is more opportunity for the parties to reconcile their differences outside of court and to reach a settlement.