Legal analytics has revealed many new insights, guiding tactical decisions for an increasing number of practitioners. A close look at motion for summary judgment analytics has revealed a striking pattern and a connection to a 1990 law that aimed to speed up the judiciary.
Docket Alarm data reveals consistent, massive spikes in decisions on summary judgment every six months, on March and September of every year.
Indeed, an even closer look reveals that these spikes in filings occur on March 31 and September 30, the final day in the final month of each report cycle.
The spikes are likely triggered by the Civil Justice Reform Act’s reporting requirements. Under the Act, enacted in 1990, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts must produce a semiannual report on pending motions, appeals, and pending cases. Those reports are dated for March and September of every year. It appears that judges aim to resolve as many cases as possible before the deadline.
The looming deadline does not appear to affect decisions’ outcomes. Rather, motions decided in the last month of the report window have similar outcomes to those in prior months. For example, in the five months since March 2022, 53% of motions analyzed by Docket Alarm were granted, and 32% were denied. In September 2022, 52% were granted while 29% were denied.