How Long Does a Judge Have to Answer a Motion

How Long Does a Judge Have to Answer a Motion: Understanding the Legal Process


In the realm of law, motions play a crucial role in ensuring justice is served. A motion is a formal request made to a judge during a legal proceeding, seeking a specific action or decision. Whether it is a request for evidence suppression or a motion for summary judgment, the timely response from a judge is essential for the progression of a case. However, the question arises: How long does a judge have to answer a motion? In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this process and provide clarity on the timelines involved.

The Timelines:

The answer to the question of how long a judge has to answer a motion depends on various factors, including jurisdiction and the type of motion filed. Generally, judges are expected to respond within a reasonable time frame, balancing the need for swift justice with their heavy workload. It is important to note that court rules and local practices may also influence the time allotted for a judge’s response.

Typically, motions fall into two categories: dispositive motions and non-dispositive motions. Dispositive motions, such as motions to dismiss or for summary judgment, have the potential to resolve the case entirely. On the other hand, non-dispositive motions, like motions for discovery or motions to compel, are essential for procedural aspects of the case. The time frame for a judge’s response can differ between these two types of motions.

For dispositive motions, judges often have a longer period to respond, as these motions significantly impact the outcome of the case. In many jurisdictions, judges are given 30 to 60 days to issue a ruling on dispositive motions. However, in complex cases or high-volume courts, this timeline may be extended due to the sheer volume of pending motions.

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Non-dispositive motions, being more procedural in nature, generally have a shorter response time. Judges are often expected to address these motions within 14 to 21 days. Again, it is important to consider that the court’s workload and local practices may influence the specific timeline.


Q: What happens if a judge fails to respond within the designated time frame?

A: If a judge fails to respond within the set time frame, it can cause frustration and delays in the legal process. In such cases, it is advisable for the party filing the motion to follow up with the court clerk or submit a request for a status update. It is rare for a judge to completely ignore a motion, but unforeseen circumstances or backlog may cause delays.

Q: Can a judge take longer than the designated time frame to respond?

A: Yes, judges can take longer than the designated time frame to respond, particularly if they are dealing with a heavy caseload or complex issues. While it can be frustrating for the parties involved, it is important to remember that judges have the responsibility to review the motion thoroughly and make an informed decision.

Q: Can a judge deny a motion without providing a written response?

A: Yes, judges can deny a motion without providing a written response. In some instances, judges may issue an oral ruling during a court hearing, particularly for non-dispositive motions. However, it is generally preferred that judges provide a written order explaining their decision, allowing parties an opportunity to understand and potentially challenge the ruling.

Q: Can a judge grant or deny a motion without a hearing?

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A: Yes, judges have the authority to grant or deny a motion without a hearing, depending on the circumstances. If the motion is straightforward and does not require extensive argument or evidence, a judge may make a decision solely based on the written motion and response. However, if the motion raises complex legal issues or requires further clarification, a hearing may be scheduled.


The timely response from a judge regarding a motion is crucial for the efficient progression of a case. While there are general time frames for judges to respond, it is important to consider jurisdiction, the type of motion, and the court’s workload. Parties involved should remain patient and follow up with the court clerk if necessary. Ultimately, judges have the responsibility to review motions thoroughly and make informed decisions that uphold the principles of justice.

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