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Case Backlog at the Appellate and Trial Levels

I’m not sure what makes a court, appellate court or trial court for that matter, “chronically late,” but the Austin American-Statesman has labeled the Third Court of Appeals just that in an article published today.

The Court, which covers Caldwell, Hays, Burnet, Comal and Travis counties, among others, is chided by the publication for the delay in opinions while noting that “[a]ppellate law is nuanced, subtle, arcane and complex; the workload is heavy.

The article also notes, “Holding individual appellate judges accountable for delays is difficult.  Annual court reports show how many opinions each judge has written, but no tally is kept on how many opinions came from very old cases, and no appellate court discloses whether any justices are running a backlog.”

In this election year, many Bexar County and District Court judges will be brought to task by opponents for docket congestion.  It remains to be seen whether the perceived problem will affect voters who head to the voting booths to decide many of the down-ballot races.  It is my considered opinion that the judges care more about the perceived backlog than the average voter.

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