There are 13 federal appellate courts called the U.S. Courts of Appeal that sit below the U.S. Supreme Court. These courts hear appeals from 94 federal trial courts, which are called the U.S. District Courts. According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2016 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, total filings in all the U.S. Courts of Appeals climbed 15% in the last fiscal year to 60,357.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was established by Congress in 1981 and has jurisdiction over federal cases originating in the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. We are frequently asked: “How long will a civil appeal to the Eleventh Circuit take?” According to Table B-4A of the same caseload report, the median time from appellee’s brief to oral argument in civil appeals terminated on the merits in the Eleventh Circuit was 3.0 months, and from notice of appeal to decision was 9.7 months.
The slowest circuit was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal cases originating in the western states of California and Arizona, plus Alaska and Hawaii. Per the same table, the Ninth Circuit handled civil appeals in 16.5 months from appellee’s brief to oral argument, and 25.5 months from notice of appeal to decision.
According to the more recent U.S. Courts of Appeals Federal Court Management Statistics Summary for the 12-Month Period Ending December 31, 2016, the Ninth Circuit was the busiest circuit court with 13,152 appeals pending at the end of 2016. The Eleventh Circuit was the third busiest, according to the same summary, with 4,042 cases pending at the end of 2016.
However, per the same summary, the Eleventh Circuit was the hardest working circuit measured by matters terminated on the merits per active judge, with 1,151 merits-based dispositions per judge. The lowest termination per active judge was the DC Circuit with 163, while the Ninth Circuit had 488 merits based terminations per active judge.
The federal Judicial Business 2017 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, is expected to be released before the end of 2017. When released, we can discern whether civil appeals to the Eleventh Circuit will take more time, less time, or stay about the same. Likewise, at that time, we will see how the Eleventh Circuit continues to compare to the Ninth Circuit situated across the country. Meanwhile, if you would like further information on any type of appeal, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the litigation/appeal attorneys at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.