INTERESTING NEWS ON APPELLATE DOCKETS
(Posted October 17, 2022) A peek at the docket pages for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Virginia reveals some interesting stuff. The lower appellate court’s page shows that we’re seeing the onset of oral arguments in new civil appeals under the current system of of-right proceedings. I see a smattering set for this month, and a stream beginning in November.
The timing of this matters, because we can now measure the rough span between the filing of the notice of appeal and the eventual oral-argument date: about ten months. These first few cases were those where the appellants noted appeals in January, thereby avoiding the SCV writ gantlet. Because the Court of Appeals has traditionally tried to clear (that is, to decide) appeals within about 60 days after oral argument, that means that we should start seeing merits opinions in these cases in December and January.
There’s news from the Supreme Court, too: The Robes have released the November argument docket, and it contains a healthy 14 appeals. Because the November session is the last one in 2022, this means that the court will entertain oral argument in just 61 appeals this year. (There were 10 in January, 17 in March, 9 in April, 4 in June, and 7 last month.)
That small total is only partly due to the change in appellate procedure, which now diverts all appeals to the CAV before appellants can even seek a writ upstairs. We’ll continue to see much smaller SCV dockets well into 2023. I suspect that the numbers in 2024 may return to something close to normal, though it’s hard to know what normal is nowadays. SCV Clerk Muriel Pitney has opened fewer than 660 new files this year, portending a full year’s docket of somewhere between 800 and 850 appeals filed.