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What is the normal time for a judge to make a decision?

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#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? New Mexico.
I had my day in court, which I thought went very well. The case was heard at the end of June last year and so far I have heard nothing from the court for the judges decision.
I have checked the on-line court records and the last thing filed was my written closing argument.
Is there any time limit for a judge to decide on a civil case?
 


#4
You also might want to google "writ of Mandamus" and study up on the subject.
A motion for a writ to compel the judge to issue the ruling sooner is pretty much destined to fail. A writ of mandamus applies to force a government official to perform some nondiscretionary act that the law requires him/her to do. As the statutes of most states do not set a time limit in which a judge MUST issue an opinion, the motion for writ is a poor way to achieve that.

Eight months is not necessarily a terribly long time to wait. I’ve waited up to six years for a trial court decision in U.S. Tax Court. Eight months would fast in that court because of how overloaded that court is. How much work that court has and the details of the case matter a lot in how long you can expect to wait to get the decision.
 

latigo

Senior Member
#5
A motion for a writ to compel the judge to issue the ruling sooner is pretty much destined to fail. A writ of mandamus applies to force a government official to perform some nondiscretionary act that the law requires him/her to do. As the statutes of most states do not set a time limit in which a judge MUST issue an opinion, the motion for writ is a poor way to achieve that. . . . .
The above is far from being resolute, but if your "poor way" it is to be taken as meaning that a petition for a writ of mandamus is an inappropriate remedy in this instance, I must respectfully disagree.

Case law is replete with decisions sanctioning the use of such a writ to compel a trial judge to rule on matters pending. In Mississippi for example there is a specific appellate procedural rule (Rule 15) entitled MANDAMUS TO REQUIRE TRIAL COURT DECISION. There if no decision is made within 6 months of the court taking the subject issue before it under advisement formal notice of such delay by the judicial administrative body to the supreme court it is treated as a writ of mandamus.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#6
A motion for a writ to compel the judge to issue the ruling sooner is pretty much destined to fail. A writ of mandamus applies to force a government official to perform some nondiscretionary act that the law requires him/her to do. As the statutes of most states do not set a time limit in which a judge MUST issue an opinion, the motion for writ is a poor way to achieve that.

Eight months is not necessarily a terribly long time to wait. I’ve waited up to six years for a trial court decision in U.S. Tax Court. Eight months would fast in that court because of how overloaded that court is. How much work that court has and the details of the case matter a lot in how long you can expect to wait to get the decision.
I am personally familiar (by familiar I mean that I was in the courtroom for all of the hearings) of a case where a Writ of Mandamus was used, and used successfully. It was a grandparent visitation case and the judge was very reluctant to make a ruling at all, he wanted the parties to come to an agreement and dodged making a ruling for almost a year, but did so after the Writ of Mandamus was used.

I had never heard of it before, and have never seen it used since.
 
#7
The above is far from being resolute, but if your "poor way" it is to be taken as meaning that a petition for a writ of mandamus is an inappropriate remedy in this instance, I must respectfully disagree.

Case law is replete with decisions sanctioning the use of such a writ to compel a trial judge to rule on matters pending. In Mississippi for example there is a specific appellate procedural rule (Rule 15) entitled MANDAMUS TO REQUIRE TRIAL COURT DECISION. There if no decision is made within 6 months of the court taking the subject issue before it under advisement formal notice of such delay by the judicial administrative body to the supreme court it is treated as a writ of mandamus.
Not all states have a rule, as apparently MS does, that requires a judge to render a decision within a specific period of time. For those that do, that would bolster the use of a mandamus request because the moving party can show that there is a nondiscretionary act that the law requires the judge to do, i.e. issue an opinion within a specific period of time. But New Mexico has no such rule. Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy in New Mexico. The standard, as stated by the NM Supreme court is as follows:

“Mandamus is a drastic remedy to be invoked only in extraordinary circumstances. Indeed, mandamus lies only to force a clear legal right against one having a clear legal duty to perform an act and where there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.” Richardson, 2007–NMSC–023, ¶ 9, 141 N.M. 657, 160 P.3d 566 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).​

Quality Auto. Ctr., LLC v. Arrieta, 2013-NMSC-041, ¶ 19, 309 P.3d 80, 84. So I ask you, in the absence of a set deadline for the judge to issue an opinion, what clear legal right does the OP have to have an opinion issued in eight months time? I have found no court cases in which the NM courts have ordered mandamus to a trial court merely to speed up issuing an opinion. Instead, what I have found is an opinion that strongly suggests to me that the effort, at least after only eight months, would not succeed:

Torres cites to no statute or case law that imposes a specific time limit on judges to dispose of cases. He grounds his argument in two portions of the New Mexico Rules of Civil Procedure calling for “speedy” determinations and a resolution of cases “promptly” and “efficiently.” Rule 1–001(A) NMRA; Rule 21–300(B)(8) NMRA. Both rules are certainly open to interpretation and judicial discretion, depending on context. Torres points to out-of-state authority—an Arkansas case in which the opinion of a foot-dragging judge was sent to the state's disciplinary committee for consideration and a West Virginia case in which a judge who had delayed a ruling for 33 months was ordered to issue one within 30 days. A second West Virginia case similarly resulted in a writ of mandamus ordering a decision to be rendered after a delay of 17 months. None of the lower court decisions in those cases were overturned. If anything, Torres's argument highlights the fact that at no time during the nearly 16 months between the end of trial and the issuing of findings of fact and conclusions of law did he file a motion with the district court seeking a resolution or a petition at the appellate level seeking a writ of mandamus. In fact, for the first two months after the trial, the district court had not even received Torres's own proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Further, Torres provides no evidence of true prejudice that resulted from the delay of more than a year. The only finding of fact he can challenge in the district court's ruling is that the court confused an exchange of small bills for large bills with an exchange of coins for bills. Thus, no material error was made by the district court in rendering its findings of fact and conclusions of law. Therefore, we decline to overturn the verdict in these circumstances.

Torres v. Montano, No. 30,207, 2012 WL 868941, at *8–9 (N.M. Ct. App. Feb. 20, 2012). So while I agree that the use of mandamus would not be “inappropriate” as you put it, I do think it is extremely difficult to win such a request, especially given that there is no case law in NM supporting mandamus in that context. As the quoted section of the Torres case illustrates, the appellant had to look hard to find cases in other states to support that the delay was a problem, and the NM court did not seem to think much of those and, moreover, the court expressly found that a 16 month delay — twice as long as the time so far involved here — was not in any way prejudicial to the appellant. Thus I remain of the view that, at least in the jurisdictions I'm familiar with that such a request is a poor way to achieve the goal of getting an opinion issued more promptly. Perhaps if the delay was truly extraordinary it would be worth a shot, but at least in NM I don’t think a delay of eight months rises to that level.

I would therefore suggest to the OP he consult a New Mexico attorney about this before venturing off into a writ request that may fail and may just simply add more time and cost for him/her in this litigation.
 
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#8
I am personally familiar (by familiar I mean that I was in the courtroom for all of the hearings) of a case where a Writ of Mandamus was used, and used successfully. It was a grandparent visitation case and the judge was very reluctant to make a ruling at all, he wanted the parties to come to an agreement and dodged making a ruling for almost a year, but did so after the Writ of Mandamus was used.

I had never heard of it before, and have never seen it used since.
Two questions: was that case in NM and did the appellate court actually grant the motion, or did the trial court merely get the opinion out prior to the appellate court ruling on it? In any event, even in whatever state that was, you say you’ve not heard of it in any other case, and that suggests how uncommon such requests actually are.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#9
Two questions: was that case in NM and did the appellate court actually grant the motion, or did the trial court merely get the opinion out prior to the appellate court ruling on it? In any event, even in whatever state that was, you say you’ve not heard of it in any other case, and that suggests how uncommon such requests actually are.
No, the case was not in NM which is why I suggested that the OP google it and study up on it. In the case I was familiar with, the judge did hurry up and get his ruling out before the appellate court ruled, which allowed the party in question to actually appeal the case, which is what they wanted in the first place.

There were temporary orders that were problematic.
 
#10
I am personally familiar (by familiar I mean that I was in the courtroom for all of the hearings) of a case where a Writ of Mandamus was used, and used successfully. It was a grandparent visitation case and the judge was very reluctant to make a ruling at all, he wanted the parties to come to an agreement and dodged making a ruling for almost a year, but did so after the Writ of Mandamus was used.

I had never heard of it before, and have never seen it used since.
Of course you know of a situation. Of course you do. Good grief. :eek::rolleyes:
 
#15
Just an update, I finally got a determination from the judge. Unfortunate it was not in my favor but the case has set an interesting precedent for others, so it's not a complete loss.
Thanks for all your help.
 
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