University of Denver

Efficiency in Motion

Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Courts
Senior Director
Senior Research Analyst

Much has been done over the past several years to address the cost and delay in the civil justice process, and much of that work has focused on discovery. Recognizing that there are equal challenges and opportunities for improvement in the area of motions practice, IAALS has focused on understanding the current motions landscape and issuing recommendations for improvement.

Efficiency in Motion: Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Courts is intended to spark a national conversation about the current challenges of summary judgment, a process by which the court can rule on a portion or all of the issues in a case without proceeding to trial. It offers a window into summary judgment practice in America’s federal courts and is intended to serve as the foundation for robust conversations about current practices.

The study found that across the diverse sample of federal district courts, there is a statistically significant difference in terms of filing rate, length of motions and opinions, time to disposition, and time to ruling. These findings suggest the need for identifying and implementing best practices with the goal of greater uniformity and efficiency in our courts.