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Opinion 216

The Commission continues to receive frequent complaints concerning the failure of trial judges to make timely rulings in habeas corpus cases. Various reasons are advanced for such untimely rulings, including delays in completion of the transcript and delays in the preparation of final orders.

By reason of these facts and in an effort to clarify the position of the Commission respecting such complaints, this advisory opinion is promulgated sua sponte.

It is a well-established principle of American jurisprudence that justice delayed is often justice denied. It is for this reason that Rule 2.2 of the Code provides that:

Judges shall dispose of all judicial matters fairly, promptly and efficiently . . . .

Consequently, all judges have both a legal and ethical duty to make timely rulings in all cases, especially those in which the writ of habeas corpus is sought.

If the preparation of a transcript and/or a final order is necessary, the judge is required to give whatever supervision and direction to the court reporter and/or counsel as the circumstances may necessitate to produce a transcript and/or order in a timely fashion.

The Commission does not presume to suggest what is “timely” in such cases, but unnecessary and undue delay is clearly inappropriate and cannot be countenanced under any circumstances.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rule 2.2. Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #100, #184.]

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