Delaware judges routinely refer motions to one of our four regular magistrate judges. This is no surprise in a court with such a busy docket, especially when so many of our cases are complex patent matters.
One question I'm frequently asked when a matter is referred to a magistrate judge is "how will this affect the decision time?" It's a sensible question, and one might imagine that a referral from a busy Article III judge to a magistrate judge might result in a quicker resolution. The answer, however, appears to be that magistrate judges take about the same amount of time to resolve issues as the Article III judges.
Looking at a commonly referred contested motion—to stay pending IPR—I analyzed the 10 most recent decisions by the Article III judges and the Magistrate Judges. The median time to resolution (measured from the last brief) for each group was:
- Article III Judges - 38.5 Days
- Magistrate Judges - 41.5 days
This similar time suggests that the current amount of motions being referred is pretty close to optimal from an efficiency standpoint. However, for those hoping that a referral might move your case into the fast lane, it would be best to temper your expectations.