How long might I be tied up in court?
September 5, 2006 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find info on how long it would take to pursue various issues in court?

This is hypothetical. My casual understanding of court proceedings is that some things are resolved very quickly and other things can be drawn out for years depending on whether various stall tactics are employed. I would like to get an idea of how long I could expect court proceedings to take per issue so if I'm ever deciding whether I should pursue something in court I can consider this information.
posted by who else to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Ask an attorney in the relevant practice area(s). It will probably be a very broad range; there's no official answer, you just have to get a feeling for it from litigation experience. And it varies a lot case-to-case based on the specific facts, how motivated the parties are to settle, etc.
posted by rkent at 9:09 PM on September 5, 2006

Probably doomed to the chatfilter trash heap, but without more information about what "something" you are considering the pursuit of, think like this for the general case:

Time = ($) X (persnicketiness of person with $)

P.S. "Persnicketiness" is legal jargon.
posted by birdsquared at 9:09 PM on September 5, 2006

It completely depends upon the issue and the facts. In the employment law arena in California, individual cases (not class action), from filing the complaint to end of case (usually a settlement), the usual time frame is between 6 months to 3 years, with most cases ending after about 12 to 14 months.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:25 PM on September 5, 2006

There are five factors here: issues, facts, parties, attorneys, and judge. If one of the parties or attorneys wants to drag things out, or if the judge doesn't bother to keep things moving, it could last forever.

If you are considering pursuing something in court, you would be best served by consulting your attorney, because you need an honest assessment of the merit of your case. A good case will be brief, because it can be settled, while a so-so case lasts forever because the opposition may think it can win.
posted by MrZero at 10:36 PM on September 5, 2006

short answer: you can't "find info on how long it would take to pursue various issues in court?"

basically, there is no answer to your question as phrased. furthermore, there is no good answer to your question if framed with specificity as to issue.

once you have consulted with an attorney, filed a complaint, been assigned to a judge and found out who the attorney representing the other side is, your attorney might be able to get a general sense of whether it will be quick or slow, but you will still never know. cases get transferred; attorneys quit their jobs; witnesses blow off depositions; judges retire; clients don't respond to their attorney's requests. the attorneys and judges, and sometimes insurance companies, have dozens of other cases which sometimes take precedence for months at a time.

in my experience, it's rarely "stalling tactics" which drag things out (my practice background is criminal and consumer protection), but just shit that happens.

also, good cases don't always settle (see birdsquared's equation).
posted by crush-onastick at 6:33 AM on September 6, 2006

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