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How long does a judge have to make a ruling?

Renton, WA |
Filed under: Filing a lawsuit

My civil trial involving a meretricious relationship concluded on May 17th and I have not yet received a ruling. Originally I was told to come back in an hr. for ruling on the 17th and then told they would call me back at a later date. I was then told it would be telephonic ruling. After two weeks I called and was told the judge was ruling that week prior to her vacation. I called after her vacation and was told she was still working on it. I have not called since then. I was told there is an RCW that says they must rule within 90 days, which will be August 15th. I cannot find this RCW however. I appreciate any heads up anyone can offer me. I am very frustrated at this point, as I have represented myself for over the past year. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 3


RCW § 2.08.240. Limit of time for decision

Every case submitted to a judge of a superior court for his or her decision shall be decided by him or her within ninety days from the submission thereof: PROVIDED, That if within said period of ninety days a rehearing shall have been ordered, then the period within which he or she is to decide shall commence at the time the cause is submitted upon such rehearing, and upon willful failure of any such judge so to do, he or she shall be deemed to have forfeited his or her office.

DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided for general purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice made in an attorney and client relationship and there is no attorney and client relationship between the person asking the question and this answering attorney. The answer provided is based on the information provided, and the answer could change if the facts differ in any way from those stated in the answer. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) you have retained as your attorney for representation or consultation.


I am a NY attorney and cannot advise you as to your state's laws. Thus, I do not know whether there are any court rules requiring a decision within 90 days. But if there are, and that 90-day time period has not as yet run, I would expect that the Judge would be well aware of it and thus it is more than likely that you can expect a determination within a short period of time.

You are unlikely to be able to speed up the Judge. And while you may be able to complain to an administrative judge, that may not be the best course of action. If the Judge is having trouble making a decision, that could indicate that the Judge sees it as a close case, in which event you don't want the Judge to think anything negative about you. I am not suggesting that the Judge would make a determination based on retaliation or anything of the sort, but decision-making is often intertwined with subtle (and sometimes subconscious) emotion.

Sit back and give it a bit of time. We who practice law know that sometimes judges take longer than one might expect, and it's something we have to live with.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


Most states have rules as to how long a judge may take to issue a decision. For example, in New York, a judge has 60 days from the last submission. While there may be rules which are generally followed, if a judge takes longer than the allotted time, there really is no recourse which will force the judge to issue a ruling. All you may be doing in pursuing it is angering the judge, which will not be helpful to the ultimate relief you are seeking.

My advice is to be patient. Summers are slow times for courts. In addition to judges' vacations, staff will likely have vacations, too, meaning that a written decision may take longer to be sent out. If you don't have a response by the 1st of September, try a gentle phone call to the judge's chambers, and ask when you might expect the decision.

Good luck. Remember, patience is a virtue.

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