One of the most frequent questions received by our legal department is “when will ___ happen?” or “why is it taking so long for ___?”
There is nobody that wants relief to come sooner than we do. We on the Board are all personally impacted by the registry as either ourselves or an immediate family member is on the list. We also feel the collective weight of all our members’ struggles.
There is a saying that “the wheels of justice turn slowly” and it’s the truth. The Miami-Dade SORR case was launched in 2014 and as we approach the 4 year mark we’ve still not gone to trial! Granted we made a trip to the 11th Circuit Court of appeals and back, so a lot has taken place, but four years is a painfully long time to wait when you are sleeping on a street corner in Miami during the summer.
Similarly, the hearing on the parties’ summary judgment motions in the Internet Identifier case took place on October 26, 2017 and we are still waiting on an order.to come down from the court. That’s 294 days. 9 months and three weeks exactly! For those foregoing employment opportunities in the mean time, that’s a lot of opportunities.
Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it. There is no required timeline for a Federal District Court judge to render an opinion in a case and nothing we can do to compel a faster answer. I know… at least in prison you were counting time but knew the end date. Here the wait is torturous and checking my PACER (public access to court records) account 3 times a day instead of 2 has not sped things up.
In my impatience I searched for any study on how long, on average, judicial proceedings take. I found very little on the subject, but I did find a 2009 study from The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver (IAALS) which found that, “[f]or all summary judgment motions, the mean time to rule was 166 days, but the variation across courts was even more pronounced: from a low of 63 days on average in the fastest court to a high of 254 days on average in the slowest court.”
When you consider the courts are even more congested than they were 9 years ago and when you further consider that the Florida district courts are among the busiest in the country, you can assume we’re on the slow end of the spectrum. In that light, considering 254 days is average, we’re not that far out.
Just like that “wheels of justice” quote, there’s another that says, “justice delayed is justice denied”. For all of us, especially those whose ability to move back home with their families or whose livelihoods depend on the outcome of these cases, the delay is tantamount to losing. You can never make back the time.
So what can we do? We can keep the wheels turning. We can keep our public education campaigns going, we can keep reaching out to media and legislators and most importantly we can keep our pipeline filled will legal challenges.
We do expect our Ex Post Facto challenge to be filed this month (pending return of materials from the named plaintiffs) and we are 16% above average in our wait time for the court’s decision in the internet identifier challenge. Our “in person reporting challenge” is 51% funded (another factor that’s completely beyond our control). Our membership keeps growing, our voice becomes louder, our resources increase and with that goals become easier to accomplish.
Hang in there… good things are coming.