CHICAGO – A Chicago law firm recently conducted a study on the amount of time it takes the Illinois Supreme Court to decide a case, finding litigation moves relatively quickly through the state's high court, particularly when compared to other appellate courts elsewhere in the country.
Sedgwick LLP performed the study to determine the average amount of time cases remain pending in the Illinois Supreme Court. The firm looked at the time lag from the petition for leave to appeal to oral argument and the court's decision.
According to the study’s findings, the average time from the petition for leave to appeal and the oral argument for cases filed from 2010 to 2016 was approximately 190 days. The study also found that from oral argument to decision in civil cases was approximately 137 days for cases filed during the same time frame.
“The court has been quite good at keeping its docket moving for many years," Kirk C. Jenkins, a partner at Sedgwick and the author of the study, told the Cook County Record. "On average, from acceptance to argument is about five to six months, and then a further five to six months to a decision. That ranks fairly low (meaning fewest days under submission) among appellate courts across the country.”
The study provides a good guideline for attorneys and clients to understand how long the legal process could take for their cases and when they can expect to hear from the court.
“The value of this information is in giving counsel and clients a good idea of when they'll be able to expect a resolution as soon as their case is accepted,” Jenkins said. “We're also studying whether there are other correlations with lag time, such as whether it's correlated with the result.”
While the Illinois court study is similar to research Sedgwick conducted in California, its findings indicate that the Illinois Supreme Court is more adept at moving cases through the system than its Golden State counterpart.
“Litigation moves more quickly at the Illinois Supreme Court than it does at the California Supreme Court," Jenkins said. “California is a very different system because there's a rule there requiring any appellate court to hand down a decision within 90 days of oral argument. The result is that an enormous amount of the work has to be done before argument can be held. The other difference is the California Supreme Court has a heavy docket of death penalty cases, which tend to take a very long time to resolve because of the size of the record and the number of claims. Those cases, which the court is obligated to hear, slow everything else down.”
For the Illinois study, Sedgwick analyzed leave to appeal dispositions on the Illinois Supreme Court's website. It found 224 data points for civil cases from allowance to petition for leave to appeal, and another 239 data points from argument to decision. It didn’t find much variance in the lag time from grant to argument in these cases, noting that 68 percent of the cases fall between 123 days and 257 days.
The study also cited a wider gap for the lag time from argument to decision, falling between 42 days and 232 days, which creates uncertainty about when the court will reach a decision.