Justice Werdegar By the Numbers, Part 2: Voting to Reverse and Joining the Court Majority

48039758_ab2d1a452a_z (1)Yesterday, we began our retrospective of the tenure of Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, who will retire on August 31, 2017.  We tracked the total number of cases, both civil and criminal, in which Justice Werdegar has participated, as well as looking at how frequently she filed opinions – majorities, concurrences and dissents – from year to year in civil and criminal cases.

Today, we consider two more statistics which suggest how Justice Werdegar’s voting patterns compare to the other Justices she has served with during her twenty-three years on the Court.  In Table 194 below, we plot the percentage of civil cases each year in which Justice Werdegar voted to reverse against the Court’s overall reversal percentage.  Overall, Justice Werdegar has voted to reverse in whole or in part in 542 of the 969 civil cases she has participated in – quite close to the Court-wide reversal rate.  She has stayed quite close to the Court’s majority for most of her tenure, as her personal reversal rate has seldom strayed more than a few points above or below the courtwide average.

Table 194

In Table 195, we plot the percentage of criminal cases each year in which Justice Werdegar voted to reverse against the Court’s overall reversal percentage on that side of the docket.  Overall, Justice Werdegar has voted to verse in whole or in part in 526 of the 1,286 criminal cases in which she has participated – 40.9% of the time.  Although the gap betweeen Justice Werdegar’s reversal rate and the Courtwide average has occasionally gotten a bit higher than on the civil side, for most of her tenure the same conclusion applies – Justice Werdegar’s voting patterns have been quite close to the Court’s majority view.

Table 195

In Table 196, we consider the year-by-year percentage of civil cases in which Justice Werdegar has been in the majority.  Overall, Justice Werdegar has voted with the majority in 888 of 969 civil cases – 91.64%.  In sixteen of her twenty-three years, she has voted with the majority in at least nine of every ten cases (1994-95, 1997-99, 2002-05, 2008-09, 2011-13, 2015 and 2017).  Her lowest-ever percentage of majority votes was in 2001, when she still voted with the majority 76.6% of the time.

Table 196

Finally, in Table 197, we report the percentage of criminal cases in which Justice Werdegar has voted with the majority.  Overall, she has voted with the majority in 1,201 of 1,286 criminal and quasi-criminal matters – 93.39%.  In eighteen of her twenty-three years, her majority percentage has been 90% or more (1994-1996, 1998, 2001-04, 2007-10 and 2012-2017).  Justice Werdegar’s lowest-ever percentage of majority votes in criminal cases was in 2011, when she voted with the majority 74% of the time, while she voted with the majority in every criminal case in 1996 and so far in 2017.

Table 197

Join us back here next Thursday as our analysis of Justice Werdegar’s voting record continues.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Kai Schreiber (no changes).

Justice Werdegar By the Numbers (Part 1 in a Series)

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Early last month, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar announced that she will retire from the California Supreme Court, effective August 31, 2017. Justice Werdegar’s retirement caps a distinguished twenty-three year career on the Supreme Court. Prior to her elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Werdegar served as as Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Three.

With Justice Werdegar’s upcoming retirement, Governor Jerry Brown will have an opportunity to nominate his fourth member of the Court, turning a four-to-three majority of Republican nominees into a four-to-three Democratic majority. We begin our analysis of how Justice Werdegar’s retirement might affect the Court with a retrospective of Justice Werdegar’s career.

Justice Werdegar took her seat on the Court on June 3, 1994, replacing Justice Edward Panelli. From that day to now, she has cast votes in 2,255 cases – 969 civil cases and 1,286 criminal, quasi-criminal and disciplinary matters. She has written 324 majority opinions – 166 in civil cases and 158 in criminal cases. Justice Werdegar’s most active years in terms of majority opinions were 2004, when she wrote fourteen majority opinions in civil cases, 2006 (twelve majorities in civil cases), 2007 (ten majorities in civil cases, ten in criminal cases) and 2008 (ten majorities in criminal cases).

Table 191

She has filed 125 concurring opinions – 53 in civil cases and 72 in criminal cases.

Table 192

She has also filed 101 dissents – 50 in civil cases, 51 in criminal cases.

Table 193

Comparing these numbers to Justice Werdegar’s overall caseload shows that she filed concurrences in 5.47% of civil cases she participated in and 5.6% of criminal cases. She filed dissents in 5.16% of civil cases and 3.97% of criminal cases.

Join us back here tomorrow, when we’ll compare Justice Werdegar’s voting over her career to the Court as a whole.

Image courtesy of Flickr by James Brewins (no changes).

2,297 Cases and More Than 200,000 Data Points – Exploring the New CSCR Data Library

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Yesterday, we announced that we’ve expanded the data library which powers the California Supreme Court Review – by a lot.  We’ve added many new data points for all the cases which were already in the database, as well as moving the start point of the library back to November 1, 1994 – just before Associate Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, the senior Associate Justice, joined the Court.

Our data now includes some or all of the following Justices’ tenures:

Justices

For each case, our data includes dozens of data points:

Data Points 1

Data Points 2

Data Points 3A

Join us back here next Thursday as we begin a series of posts looking at the Supreme Court career of Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar, who has announced plans to retire effective August 31, 2017.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Walter (no changes).

Our California Supreme Court Data Library More Than Doubles in Size

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Fifty weeks (and just over a hundred posts) ago, we started the California Supreme Court Review, applying statistical and data analytic techniques to studying the decision making of the California Supreme Court.  Our analysis was based upon a data library which we created based on dozens of data points drawn from every one of the Court’s decisions, both civil and criminal, since 2000.  During the past year we’ve studied everything from the geographical sources of the Court’s docket to reversal rates for each District of the Court of Appeal, from the Court’s experience with amicus briefs to why affirmances tend to be pending longer before oral argument is scheduled than reversals are.

Today, we begin the next phase of our analysis.  Over the past few months, we’ve been working on expanding our data library, both by adding additional data points for each of the cases which were already included, and by moving the start point of our data earlier to encompass the entire career on the Court of every current Justice.  The data now includes every case the Court has decided from January 1, 1994 to today – 1,004 civil and 1,293 criminal.  In terms of cases covered, that’s an increase of 44%.  In terms of total data points across the entire span of cases, our data library has more than doubled, to in excess of two hundred thousand data points.

Join us back here tomorrow as we talk about the new parameters we’ve added to our data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Sean Ellis (no changes).

Do Affirmances Take Longer in Non-Death Penalty Criminal Appeals (2008-2016)?

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Yesterday, we looked at how much correlation there was between result and lag times in death penalty appeals between 2008 and 2016. Today, we’re looking at the non-death penalty criminal docket for the same period.

We started this analysis because of the surprising results looking at civil versus criminal cases – affirmances took about 20 days longer from grant to argument in civil cases, but the gap between lag time for affirmances and reversals was far greater than that in criminal cases. We wondered whether the much larger margin in criminal cases might be the result of the very high affirmance rate in death penalty appeals. Yesterday, we showed that in recent years, death penalty affirmances have not taken consistently much longer than reversals.

Table 189 below goes a long way toward answering our question. The enormous difference between affirmances and reversals in criminal cases isn’t coming from the death penalty docket – it’s coming from non-death appeals.

In 2008, affirmances in non-death cases averaged 852.39 days from grant to argument, while reversals averaged 695.65 days. In 2009, affirmances averaged 732.67 days to 451.22 for reversals. In 2010, reversals averaged slightly longer – affirmances took 626.08 days to 664.36 days for reversals. But in 2011, the usual relationship reasserted itself. Affirmances averaged 1,159.36 days, while reversals averaged 424.64 days. In 2012, affirmances averaged 692.63 days, while reversals averaged 675.29 days. In 2013, affirmances averaged 986.78 days while reversals took only 497 days. In 2014, affirmances averaged 946.73 days to 426.33 for reversals. In 2015, affirmances averaged 882.09 days to 564.27 days for reversals. Finally, last year affirmances averaged 903.11 days from grant to argument, while reversals averaged 518.84 days.

Table 189

In Table 189 below, we review the average lag times from argument to decision in non-death cases. For the most part, reversals were handed down at least slightly more quickly than affirmances were. In 2008, affirmances averaged 71.67 days to 66.25 for reversals. In 2009, affirmances averaged 68.67 days to 74.11 for reversals. In 2010, affirmances averaged 70.88 days from argument to decision, while reversals averaged 68.88 days. In 2011, affirmances took ten days longer – 73.45 days to 63.64 days. In 2012, the margin narrowed to four days, as affirmances averaged 75.04 days to 71.43 days for reversals. In 2013, affirmances averaged 68.89 days to 68.27 for reversals. In 2014, affirmances averaged 69.93 days to 63.67 days for reversals. In 2015, affirmances took nearly two weeks more – 81.27 days to 68.2 days for reversals. In 2016, the relationship reversed as affirmances averaged 68.78 days to 77.26 days for reversals.

Table 190

Join us back here in forty-eight hours for our regular Thursday post as we make a special announcement (and the reason that our regular posts last week were late).

Image courtesy of Flickr by Reverie Rambler (no changes).

Do Affirmances Take Longer in Automatic Death Penalty Appeals (2008-2016)?

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For the past several weeks, we’ve been comparing the Court’s lag times – time to oral argument, and then oral argument to decision – for affirmances as opposed to reversals. We’ve determined that affirmances tend to take longer from outset to argument than reversals do. The difference between affirmances and reversals is much greater for criminal cases than it is for civil cases. That discovery led us to wonder whether the very high affirmance rate in the death penalty docket might be driving the aggregate numbers. So we divided up the criminal docket between death penalty and non-death cases.

In Table 187 below, we show the year-by-year data for lag times in death penalty appeals from the appointment of capital counsel to oral arguments, divided between affirmances and reversals for the years 2008 through 2016. The data on reversals is fragmentary because outright reversals (including the penalty) are rare in death penalty cases. In 2008 and 2009, affirmances took far longer than reversals did – 3,262.54 (affirmances) to 2,373 days (reversals) in 2008, and 3,186.78 (affirmances) to 2,136.5 (reversals) in 2009. No death penalties were reversed in 2010, and affirmances averaged 3,472.75 days. In 2011, the relationship between results and lag time reversed – affirmances averaged 2,927.76 days, while reversals averaged 3,505 days. But the following year, affirmances averaged 3,591.1 days to 3,149.25 days for reversals.

In 2013, again there were no death penalty reversals. Affirmances averaged 3,760.06 days. In 2014, affirmances averaged 3,845.38 days, while reversals averaged 4,042 days. Reversals again took longer in 2015 – 3.994 days for reversals to 3,375.79 days for affirmances. Last year, all death penalty appeals took longer from counsel to argument, regardless of the result – affirmances averaged 4,571.22 days, while reversals averaged 4,269.33 days.

Table 187

Lag times from argument to decision were not consistently longer for affirmances during these years either. In 2008, affirmances averaged 74.04 days to 62 days for reversals. The following year, affirmances averaged 71.7 days, while reversals were filed in only 48 days. In 2010, affirmances averaged 72.13 days. For 2011, affirmances averaged 71.68 days, while reversals averaged 90 days. In 2012, affirmances averaged 73.57 days to 73 for reversals. In 2013, affirmances were almost flat, averaging 73.11 days. In 2014, affirmances averaged 74.86 days from argument to decision, while reversals were handed down in 63 days. In 2015, affirmances averaged 78.93 days to 83.67 days for reversals. Last year, affirmances averaged 79.89 days to 81.33 days for reversals.

Table 188

Join us back here tomorrow as we look at the non-death penalty criminal docket’s lag times in recent years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bernard Spragg (no changes).

Do Affirmances Take Longer in Automatic Death Penalty Appeals (2000-2007)?

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We’ve been reviewing the data for lag time from grant of review to oral argument to decision in criminal cases, dividing the data up to separate non-death and death penalty appeals, searching for an explanation of why lag time for affirmances has been considerably longer than lag time for reversals between 2000 and 2007.  Today, we’re reviewing the data for death penalty appeals between 2000 and 2007.

In contrast to most of the rest of the data, for death penalty appeals, reversals have been pending longer than affirmances.  Reversals have averaged 3,169.458 days from grant of review to argument.  Affirmances have averaged ten months less – 2,876.03 days.

Table 185

The relationship is the same for the lag time between argument and decision.  For reversals in death penalty cases, the average lag time from argument to decision has been 78.75 days.  For affirmances, the average lag time has been 74.17 days.

The data varies widely for the lag time from grant of review to argument.  The standard deviation for affirmances from grant to argument is 973.28.  The standard deviation for reversals is 1,215.37.  For the period from argument to decision, the standard deviation of the lag time for affirmances is 13.133.  The standard deviation of the lag time for reversals is 10.967.

Table 186

Join us back here next Thursday as we turn our attention to a new issue in our continuing analysis of the California Supreme Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Peasap (no changes).

Do Affirmances Take Longer in Non-Death Criminal Cases (2000-2007)?

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Over the past two weeks, we’ve demonstrated that in criminal cases as a whole, affirmances are pending substantially longer between grant of review and oral argument than reversals are – roughly 900 days more between 2000 and 2007, and more than 1000 days more between 2008 and 2016.  So I wondered – to what extent is the enormous margin explained by the very high affirmance rate in death penalty cases?  We recalculated the criminal case statistics, dividing the data into non-death penalty and death penalty cases.

Between grant of review and oral argument, affirmances were pending longer for non-death penalty cases than reversals.  Affirmances took an average of 515.43 days from grant to argument, while reversals were pending for 468.6 days.  The data is quite variable – the standard deviation for affirmances between grant and oral argument is 300.68, and the standard deviation for reversals is 235.35.

Table 183

The relationship between the variables is similar for the lag time between oral argument and the decision.  Affirmances averaged 70.45 days from argument to decision between 2000 and 2007.  Reversals averaged 68.59 days.  Not surprisingly, the data for lag times from argument to decision does not vary widely.  The standard deviation for affirmances is 16.05.  The standard deviation for reversals is 17.49.

Table 184

Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s death penalty cases between 2000 and 2007.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jim G. (no changes).

Are Longer-Pending Cases More Likely to Be Affirmances in the Criminal Docket? (Part 2 – 2008-2016)

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Yesterday, we showed that affirmances in civil cases between 2008 and 2016 have tended to be pending for longer both between the grant of review and oral argument, and between argument and decision, than reversals were.  Today, we address the Court’s criminal cases between 2008 and 2016.

Our database contains 304 affirmances and 209 reversals.  Affirmances have averaged 2,255.743 days from allowance of the petition for leave to appeal to oral argument, but only 1,117.471 days for reversals from allowance to argument.  The standard deviation for affirmances from allowance to argument was 1,732.426 days, suggesting that a not-insubstantial portion of the Court’s criminal docket were pending for as little as 520 days from grant to argument.  The standard deviation for reversals was 1,404.52 days.

Table 181

We report the average time from argument to decision in Table 182 below.  This is the only measure for which reversals took slightly longer than affirmances – reversals averaged 74.148 days, while affirmances averaged 72.878 days.  Interestingly, there’s considerably more variation in the data for reversals than there is or affirmances.  The standard deviation for affirmances is 17.219, while the standard deviation for reversals was 59.0584.

Table 182

Join us back here on Tuesday as we address another aspect of the lag time data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by the_tahoe_guy (no changes).

Are Longer-Pending Cases More Likely to Be Affirmances in the Civil Docket? (Part 2: 2008-2016)

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Last week, we demonstrated that the time from grant to oral argument and argument to decision was longer between 2000 and 2007 for affirmances than it was for reversals, both in civil and criminal cases.  This week, we look at the Court’s civil and criminal cases between 2008 and 2016.  We begin with the Court’s civil docket.

Our civil case database includes 104 affirmances and 179 reversals.  From grant of review to argument, the Court averaged 624.9712 days in affirmances, and 589.5556 days in reversals – so about five weeks more for affirmances.  The lag time data was widely scattered; the standard deviation for affirmances was 263.4742 days, and the standard deviation for reversals was 249.5901 days.

Table 179

In Table 180 below, we report the data for reversals in civil cases.  Once again, affirmances took longer, although the difference was very slight.  Affirmances averaged 70.1731 days from argument to decision.  Reversals averaged 69.55 days.  The standard deviation for affirmances from argument to decision was 16.98101 days, while the standard deviation for reversals was 23.60962.

Table 180

Join us back here tomorrow as analyze the Court’s criminal cases from 2008 through 2016.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Damian Gadal (no changes).

 

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