Public complaints that lots of court cases have been sitting for long time awaiting court decisions have prompted a resolution in the Senate urging Judiciary to issue decisions on cases within reasonable time.
In the resolution introduced by Senator Jonathan “Cio” Isechal, it claims that “too many cases” have had lengthy delays which have caused unnecessary hardship to people involved, “undermine the rule of law and frustrate the pursuit of justice.” It urged Judiciary to issue timely decisions “within a reasonable timeframe in order to promote justice, protect the rule of law and prevent unnecessary lengthy litigation.”
Island Times reporter spoke with four different attorneys who expressed frustrations over the delays in some of their cases that have been pending court decisions for quite some time. In some cases, because of lengthy delays, key witnesses pass away, or become incapacitated resulting longer litigations. “My clients have been after me about their case for some time but what can I say,” vented one attorney. “I think I need to file a petition.” The attorneys all refused to be identified saying they don’t want to upset the judges for fear of retribution.
The need to issue final timely decisions is recognized by the court in the Special Order No. 2 stated the resolution.
The Special Order No. 2 issued by the Supreme Court establishes a process and a timeframe for courts to issue decisions and for litigants to file complaint if a judge has not issued a judgment within the set timeframe.
In fact, the Special Order No. 2 states that “all decisions of the Trial Division, the Land Court, and Court of Common Pleas shall be entered within sixty days of final submissions by the parties to the litigation” and “if a justice of judge has not entered his or her decision within 60 days of the final submission by the parties, one or both of the parties may file petition in writing with the Office of the Chief Justice requesting a review of a judge or justice’s potential non-compliance.” Cases before the appellate that have concluded require decision to be rendered within 90 days.
The resolution added that “despite the issuance of Special Order No. 2 and the Judiciary’s best efforts over the past decade to improve efficiency in rendering final decisions, lengthy delays continue to accumulate in too many cases, causing frustration to the parties, undermining the public’s confidence in the Judiciary and weaking the rule of law.”