Courts, like people, sometimes make mistakes. Yesterday, the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in the matter of Jones et. al. v. Harris Associates L.P., No. 07-1624 (decision issued August 5, 2015). The decision itself, uneventfully, affirms the district court’s decision in the case.
However, the decision ends with an unusual apology to the parties: “We close with an apology to the parties…the papers were placed in the wrong stack and forgotten. The court’s internal system for tracking cases under advisement does not include remands from the Supreme Court, so the normal process of alerts and ticklers failed. We will see to it that this is fixed. That may be small comfort to these litigants and their lawyers, but at least some good will come from the delay.”
There is little doubt that a five year delay in a ruling would cause frustrated and unhappy parties, and lawyers, who took the case to the highest court in the land. However, the impact of the apology is greater than just the case itself. And the Court should be commended for its candor. For those parties not associated with the litigation, there is large comfort that a court is willing to recognize a misstep, take responsibility for it, and correct it in such a candid and straight-forward fashion.
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