We hear that question frequently. Using the most recent statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2016 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, the median time from Appellee’s brief to oral argument in civil appeals terminated on the merits in the Ninth Circuit is 16.5 months, and from notice of appeal to decision is 25.5 months (and that is just the median time–half the appeals take longer.) (See Table B-4A.) This is the slowest of the circuits. The next slowest circuit—the DC Circuit—handles civil appeals in 3.8 months from Appellee’s brief to oral argument, and 11.7 months from notice of appeal to decision.
The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit geographically, and it remains the busiest, with 13,152 cases pending as of December 31, 2016. The next busiest circuit—the Fifth—had 5,252 cases pending as of the same date. But measured by matters terminated on the merits per active judge, the Ninth Circuit is very much in the middle of the circuits, with 488 merits-based terminations per judge through December 31, 2016. The circuit with the heaviest workload, using this same measurement, is the Eleventh Circuit, with 1,151 merits-based dispositions per judge. The lowest terminations per active judge is the DC Circuit, with 163.