Last week, we wrapped up our analysis of the California Supreme Court’s history with amicus briefs. Today, we begin a new topic, tracking which Justices have most frequently dissented, and which Justices tend to write, year by year, the longest and shortest dissents.
In Table 126 below, we report the yearly distribution of dissents in civil cases among the Justices. In 2000, Justices Kennard and Mosk dissented eight times in civil cases. Chief Justice George dissented six times, Justice Werdegar five times, Justice Brown four times and Justice Chin once. In 2001, Justice Werdegar led the Court, dissenting six times in civil cases. Justices Brown and Kennard dissented five times, and Chief Justice George and Justices Baxter and Mosk dissented twice apiece. For 2002, Justice Brown led the Court with ten dissents. Justice Werdegar was next, dissenting four times. Justice Kennard dissented three times, Justices Baxter and Moreno twice and Justice Chin once. In 2003, Justice Brown once again led the Court with seven dissents. Justice Baxter dissented six times. Justice Chin dissented three times, Justices Moreno and Kennard twice each and Justice Werdegar once. For 2004, Justice Brown once again led the Court, dissenting eight times in civil cases. Justice Kennard dissented seven times. Justices Chin and Baxter dissented four times, Justice Werdegar three times and Justice Moreno once.
Dissents were comparatively rare in 2005 and 2006. In 2004, Justice Kennard led with four civil dissents. Chief Justice George and Justices Werdegar, Chin and Baxter dissented twice each, and Justice Brown once. In 2006, Justice Kennard led with six dissents. Justice Moreno dissented five times, Justice Werdegar three times and Justice Corrigan twice. Finally, in 2007 Justice Kennard led with nine dissents in civil cases. Justice Chin dissented five times, Justices Werdegar and Baxter four times apiece, Justice Corrigan three times and Justice Moreno once.
In Table 127, we report the average length of each Justice’s dissents during each year. This data should be treated with a certain degree of caution: since Justices frequently dissent only a few times a year, what is really a random difference can have a considerable impact on the yearly averages.
For 2000, Chief Justice George’s civil dissents averaged 21.67 pages. Justice Werdegar averaged 18 pages. Justice Chin averaged 12 pages, Justice Kennard 10.88 pages, Justice Brown 10.25 pages, and Justice Mosk 5.13 pages. For 2001, the longest civil dissents were written by Justices Baxter and Werdegar (17.5 and 15.33 pages, respectively), and Chief Justice George (13.5 pages). Justice Brown averaged 9.4 pages, Justice Mosk averaged 8.5 pages and Justice Kennard averaged 7.4 pages. Justice Baxter once again averaged the longest civil dissents in 2002, averaging 24 pages. Justice Chin averaged 11 pages and Justice Moreno 10 pages. The remaining Justices’ average dissents were all less than ten pages – Justice Brown (9.5 pages), Justice Werdegar (7.25 pages) and Justice Kennard (6 pages).
In 2003, Justice Chin led the Court with an average civil dissent of 23.67 pages. Justice Moreno was next with 15.5 pages. Justice Baxter’s dissents averaged 12.33 pages, Justice Brown averaged 12 pages, Justice Werdegar averaged 11 pages and Justice Kennard averaged 6.5 pages. Justice Chin led the Court again in 2004 with an average civil dissent of 16.75 pages. Among the remaining Justices, only Justice Werdegar averaged more than ten pages per dissent – 11.67. The other Justices’ dissents were very short – Justices Brown (8.88 pages); Kennard (7.29 pages); Baxter (7.25 pages) and Moreno (7 pages). For 2005, Justice Chin’s civil dissents once again led the Court, averaging 20.5 pages. Chief Justice George averaged 13 pages, Justice Baxter 11 pages, Justice Werdegar 9.5 pages and Justice Kennard 4.75 pages. Justice Brown’s single civil dissent was one page. For 2006, Justice Moreno’s dissents averaged 12.2 pages. Justice Kennard was second at eight pages, Justice Werdegar averaged 6.33 pages and Justice Corrigan’s dissents averaged 5.5 pages. Dissents were on average somewhat longer in 2007. Justice Moreno led the Court with an average dissent of 19 pages. Justice Chin averaged 16 pages. Justice Baxter averaged 11.75 pages, Justice Werdegar averaged 10.25 pages, Justice Kennard averaged 6.44 pages and Justice Corrigan’s civil dissents averaged 5.67 pages.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Justices’ dissents in criminal cases between 2000 and 2007.