Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Appeals Procedure Becomes Permanent

The State Judiciary sent out a news release today announcing that the procedure of filing appeals first with the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) instead of the Hawaii Supreme Court will become permanent on June 29, 2010.

In 2004, the Legislature passed a bill changing the jurisdictions of the Supreme Court and the ICA in order to reduce the backlog at the Supreme Court. The bill, HB2301, became law as Act 202 and was implemented on July 1, 2006. The requirement was scheduled to sunset this year. The Judiciary requested a new bill to repeal the sunset in the 2010 session. That bill, SB2150, was signed into law as Act 109.

The original bill in 2004 was introduced by Rep. Calvin Say, by request. Here's the bill description: "Amends appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court and the intermediate appellate court changing the supreme court's jurisdiction to appeals by writ of certiorari or transfer from the intermediate appellate court. Repeals criteria for assigning appeals. Requires most appeals to be filed with the intermediate appellate court instead of the supreme court. Appoints a task force to review the changes and make recommendations for implementation. (SD1)"

The Judiciary reports that "since the new process was implemented three years ago, appeals are being decided more promptly, the backlog of cases in the appellate courts has decreased, and the age of pending and decided appeals had been reduced. As a result, he Supreme Court has been able to hold oral argument in more of the cases it takes."

The Judiciary provided the following statistics:

*During fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009, 1,621 new appeals were filed.

*During the same time period, the ICA terminated 1,613 appeals, and the Supreme Court terminated all 171 of the appeals it had retained.

*At the end of FY 2009, 630 appeals were pending at the ICA. At the Supreme Court, 11 appeals taken on transfer or applications for writs of certiorari were pending at the end of FY 2009.

*The median age of all pending appeals as of June 30, 2009 was 246 days, a decrease of 101 days from the median age of pending appeals at the end of FY 2006.

*The median age of terminated appeals in FY 2009 was 332 days, a 146 day decrease from the median age of 478 days in FY 2006.

*By the end of FY 2009, approximately 20 percent fewer appeals were pending in the appellate courts and the median age of cases disposed in FY 2009 was five months less than in FY 2006.

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