In June 2006, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral argument in Connecticut v. American Electric Power, a suit filed by several state AGs against several large utilities alleging the emission of greenhouse gases from their facilities constitute an actionable “public nuisance” by contributing to climate change. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was the presiding judge. Nearly three years later, the Second Circuit has yet to issue an opinion.
Jonathan Zasloff noted this extraordinary delay on Legal Planet early in the week (prompting this post of mine on NRO’s Bench Memos). Now Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal has a longer story looking at the case and the unreasonable delay.
The case was docketed with the circuit court in September 2005; briefing was completed in March 2006, and argument was held June 7, 2006. The Sotomayor panel asked for additional briefing on the impact of the Supreme Court’s climate decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, and that briefing was filed in July 2007.
Some lawyers who practice before the circuit court said the delay — three years from oral argument — is unusually long. The circuit disposes of cases on the merits an average of 17.6 months from notice of appeal to final disposition, according to statistics compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and 0.6 months from hearing to full disposition.