As Courts across the country closed their doors to in-person trials and hearings, concerns began to mount that the courts would be inundated with a backlog of trials and appeals that would cause longstanding delays in the administration of justice for years to come.
Statistics published by the appellate courts largely confirm a decrease in new appellate filings due to decreased trials and other proceedings. Nine of the twelve circuit courts saw decreases in appeals filed during the first year of the pandemic ranging from a 6.4% decline in the 6th Circuit to a 27.2% decline in the Third Circuit. Statistics published by a number of state appellate courts appear to be largely in line with this range – California appellate filings decreased by less than 1%, whereas similar filings in both Georgia and Texas decreased 11%, in New York by 25% and Pennsylvania decreased by 30%.
While appellate filings are down, the impact on the average time for appeals to be decided seems to have been impacted only minimally. The average time to decision across the federal circuit courts only from 9 months as of March 2020 to 9.7 months as of March 2021. The average amount of time from the filing of the notice of appeal to a determination stayed the same in the Sixth and Seventh Circuits and actually decreased by 10% in the Third Circuit and 36% in the Eighth Circuit suggesting that the courts remain ready and able to handle any rebound in filings as the pandemic begins to subside.