NeuwirthLawCase Matters, Courts, For Lawyers

In personal injury cases, it is unusual that a lawsuit turns solely on a judge deciding a motion to dismiss or motion for summary judgment.  It happens, but is unusual. More often, the Court’s failure to decide a procedural motion like Preliminary Objections, just slows things down a little.  However, periodically, Judges delay acting on critical motions that affect how the case will turn out. I know that for my non-personal injury lawyer litigators, most of their cases turn on what we call dispositive motions. These can be motions to dismiss at the beginning of the case or motions for summary judgment etc.

Anyway, so the problem posed above is one that we deal with from time to time. What do you as a lawyer do when you would like a judge to act on a dispositive motion but they are taking their time doing so? Well, first, Judges are busy just like the rest of us are and some cases may be a priority over others. Also, when Judges are on trial, those cases will take up a lot of hours in the work day. There is no benefit to the Judge deciding something faster or slower.  It has no bearing on them or their job as far as I can tell.

So, if a judge is slow in deciding a motion, do you call the chambers and ask them to hurry up? Whenever I have done that in the past, I have lost the motion. Sooooo, I don’t do it anymore. It may just be superstition at this point, but if the Court is going to take its sweet time doing its job, there is really not a lot I am going to do about it.

You can indirectly suggest that your case merits attention and hope that chambers will realize the motions are undecided. Sometimes this can be accomplished by filing documents that are not significant to the case, but require the Court’s attention. It’s sort of like poking the sleeping bear or dog without actually saying, hey, I need a decision here. Maybe you request a subpoena or submit a motion in limine or a conference memo or move to compel something. While all of these actions are legitimate and fair actions to take, the goal is to get the Court to take a look at your docket and realize that the case is in limbo pending the Court taking action.