Rhode Island Appellate Practice - Special Edition: Statistics on Resolution of Cases before the Rhode Island Supreme Court

by Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

This special edition of the Fast Five on Rhode Island Appellate Practice features four questions an appellate attorney should be prepared to answer.  Statistics reported in the Rhode Island Judiciary’s 2012 Annual Report provide helpful guidance on the answers to each of these questions. 


Whether you represent an appellee who wants confirmation that the trial court correctly decided the case or an appellant who wants the trial court’s decision reversed, clients often want to know how long the appeal process will take.   There are a number of factors that can affect the length of time a case will spend in the Rhode Island Supreme Court, including the number of briefing extensions requested by the parties, the Court’s backlog of cases and the calendar to which the case is assigned (the show cause calendar or the regular calendar), making it difficult to anticipate the length of time an appeal will take. 

Thirty days after the appellant has filed its brief, or five days after the appellee’s brief has been filed (whichever is sooner), the case will be placed in order on the argument list.  R.I. Sup. Ct. R. App. P. 22.  Pursuant to Rule 22 of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Rules of Appellate Procedure, cases are assigned hearing dates in the order in which they appear on the argument list, however, the following cases obtain priority:  cases entitled to priority by statute, criminal cases, election cases, cases in which the State is an actual party in interest, cases involving termination of parental rights and habeas corpus proceedings. 

A good predictor of the length of time an appeal will take is the Supreme Court’s statistics for the previous year.  The Rhode Island Judiciary’s 2012 Annual Report reported that 47 percent of cases are resolved within 300 days of docketing.  See http://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/annualreports/PDF/2012.pdf.  The 2012 Annual Report also reported that 447 cases are pending before the Supreme Court.  Id.  

Source:  The Rhode Island Judiciary 2012            Annual Report at 25.


As a general matter, appellees are far more likely to prevail on appeal.  Jay O’Keeffe, author of the blog “DeNovo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog” (www.virginiaappellatelaw.com), recently explained why the odds strongly favor appellees.  In his post, “5 Reasons Why Appellees Win All the Time (And How You Can, Too),” O’Keeffe offered the following reasons:  (1) the applicable standard of review; (2) waiver (in Rhode Island, the “raise or waive rule”); (3) procedural default; (4) harmless error and (5) right for the wrong reason.  Id

The Rhode Island Judiciary’s 2012 Annual Report indicates that appellees prevailed in 80 percent of the cases that came before the Supreme Court last year.  See http://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/annualreports/PDF/2012.pdf.  The Court’s statistics are broken down into two categories:  cases on appeal from a ruling on the Superior Court’s motion calendar and all other cases decided on the merits. Id.  Eighty percent of cases in both categories were affirmed on appeal.  Id.  Only 10 percent of the cases that came before the Supreme Court were reversed.  Id.  The remainder of the cases were withdrawn, modified or contained some other mandate.  Id.  Rhode Island’s affirmance statistics are consistent with those nationwide, which typically are in the 90 percent range.  See O’Keeffe, www.virginiaappellatelaw.com.

Source:  The Rhode Island Judiciary 2012            Annual Report at 25.

Source:  The Rhode Island Judiciary 2012            Annual Report at 25.


Sometimes, a client may be on the fence about filing an appeal.  With a twenty-day window to file an appeal, it is sometimes difficult to make that decision.  Although there is a filing fee associated with filing an appeal (and sometimes a bond requirement), if a client is still on the fence on the eve of the twenty-day deadline, the client should give serious consideration to filing the appeal.  Appeals may be withdrawn at any time before issuance of the Court’s decision.  In 2012, 80 appeals were withdrawn before oral argument and four were withdrawn after oral argument.  See http://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/annualreports/PDF/2012.pdf


The Rhode Island Supreme Court Appellate Mediation Program, a program that the Supreme Court implemented during Chief Justice Frank Williams’ tenure in 2003, has been tremendously successful.  Forty four percent of the 200 cases that came through the Appellate Mediation Program last year were settled.

Source:  The Rhode Island Judiciary 2012            Annual Report at 25.


The Rhode Island Judiciary is working to replace its case management system for all civil and criminal cases, which will enable the courts to offer electronic filing?  The project is expected to be completed in 2016.  See http://www.courts.ri.gov/PublicResources/annualreports/PDF/2012.pdf

Did you enjoy this edition?  To read past editions of the Fast Five on Rhode Island Appellate Practice please visit our new blog site http://www.RIAppeals.com.    


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.