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Edward T. Kang, Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt Edward T. Kang, Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt

We all know the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied.” Recently, I have been involved in a flurry of discussions with colleagues from the Philadelphia Bar Association relating to this issue. At a recent Federal Courts Committee discussion through the Philadelphia Bar Association, concerns were raised about what to do (or, more accurately, whether anything can be done) when federal court judges do not move a case for an extended (and unreasonably long) period, usually due to a pending motion to dismiss. This is a particularly hot-button issue at the moment, but it is one that already was a concern before the pandemic. For example, while representing the plaintiff in a case in federal court several years ago, a judge had not ruled on a motion to dismiss (and the case stayed) for about a year. When I expressed my frustrations to a federal court judge from the Eastern District (who was unrelated to the case), he suggested that I write a letter to the chief judge explaining my situation. I followed the judge’s advice. Within a few weeks, I received my long-awaited decision on the motion. The judge granted about 90% of the motion and effectively skinned my case. Perhaps, that is advice I will not heed in the future.

Whatever the reason behind the judge’s decision, this anecdote highlights one of the issues with the absence of a set procedure to follow when a judge has not ruled on a dispositive motion: attorneys often feel guilty (if not uncomfortable) contacting judges to nudge them on their case, yet inaction is problematic as well. In this column, I offer some suggestions for what to do when you share a similar predicament.

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