Why does the Superior Court need time standards for adjudicating cases?
Timely disposition of court cases has long been a concern in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Constitutional considerations require criminal matters to be adjudicated within certain time frames. However, these standards do not apply to civil cases. Complex civil matters have often taken second priority in recent years, resulting in lengthy litigation and delayed disposition of cases. Many state and local courts have adopted time standards to improve the quality of services provided to the public.
How long does it take for a Superior Court case to be decided?
In 2013, the Superior Court acknowledged the problem of protracted litigation and took significant steps toward resolving the issue by adopting time standards to increase efficiency and productivity. The time standards took effect on June 1, 2013. Significantly, routine civil matters are now to be disposed within 270 days (approximately 1 ½ years) and “more complex” civil matters are to be resolved within 730 days (2 years) of filing. Most other civil matters are to be resolved within 90 days of filing. However, it is important to note these time standards represent goals for the disposition of cases and are not guarantees that any individual case will be decided within a particular time frame.
How will the adoption of time standards impact Virgin Islands litigants?
These time schedules establish goals the Superior Court will strive to achieve moving forward. For litigants, the time standards represent a renewed commitment to improving access to the courts and increasing public confidence in the justice system. These standards will help protect the rights of Virgin Islanders, since justice delayed truly is justice denied.