Last week, we concluded our analysis of the distribution of concurring opinions in civil and criminal cases. This week, we turn our attention to a new topic: the distribution and average length of the Court’s majority opinions. We begin today with civil opinions between 2000 and 2007.
Between 2000 and 2007, Justice Werdegar led the Court with 74 majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Brown wrote 52, Justice Moreno wrote 51, Chief Justice George and Baxter wrote 47 apiece, Justice Kennard wrote 45, Justice Chin wrote 44. Justice Mosk wrote 17 and Justice Corrigan wrote 15. For 2000, Justice Mosk led with 10 majority opinions. Justice Werdegar wrote 9 and Justices Brown and Baxter wrote eight each. For 2001 and 2002, Justice Brown led, writing 12 majority opinions in 2001 and 13 in 2002. In 2001, Justices Werdegar, Chin and Mosk were next with seven civil opinions apiece. For 2002, Justice Werdegar wrote nine opinions, Justice Moreno eight and Justice Kennard seven. For 2003, Justices Kennard and Werdegar wrote nine majority opinions apiece. Justices Brown and Chin wrote six each, and Chief Justice George and Justice Moreno wrote five each. For 2004, Justice Werdegar led with thirteen majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Moreno wrote ten, Justice Brown wrote nine and Justice Chin wrote six. For 2005, Justice Moreno led with 12 majority opinions. Chief Justice George and Justice Baxter wrote eight, and Justices Kennard, Werdegar and Chin wrote six apiece. For 2006, Justice Werdegar once again led, writing twelve majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Moreno wrote nine, Justices Chin and Baxter wrote eight apiece and Chief Justice George and Justice Corrigan wrote six each. For 2007, Chief Justice George and Justices Corrigan and Werdegar wrote nine majority opinions each. Justice Kennard wrote eight and Justice Moreno wrote seven.
We report the mean length of each Justice’s majority opinions, year by year, in Table 143 below. It appears that Chief Justice George averaged somewhat longer majority opinions than other members of the Court during these years. This is not necessarily a surprise; on many appellate courts, there is a view that the Chief Justice should speak for the Court in high-profile cases. Justices Baxter, Mosk and Moreno have perhaps averaged slightly longer opinions than the average; Justices Brown, Kennard and Chin have written somewhat shorter opinions on average.
For 2000, Chief Justice George on average wrote the longest majority opinions at 30.33 pages. Justice Baxter averaged 29.5 pages and Justice Mosk averaged 28.3. Justice Chin averaged 23 pages, Justice Brown 21.63, Justice Werdegar 18.22 and Justice Kennard 15.33. For 2001, Justice Mosk led with an average majority opinion of 31.86 pages. Chief Justice George averaged 29.25 pages, Justice Baxter 24.33 pages, Justice Werdegar 23.29 pages and Justice Brown 23.25 pages. Justice Chin averaged 17.86 pages and Justice Kennard averaged 12 pages. For 2002, Chief Justice George led with a mean length of 29 pages. Justice Baxter averaged 26 pages, Justice Chin averaged 22.67 pages and Justice Werdegar averaged 21.67 pages. The shortest averages for 2002 were Justice Kennard at 18.29 pages, Justice Moreno at 17.63 pages and Justice Brown, 17.08 pages.
For 2003, Chief Justice George led with an average opinion of 26.4 pages. Justice Moreno averaged 26.2 pages, Justice Baxter averaged 24.5 pages, Justice Werdegar averaged 23.33 pages, and Justice Brown averaged 20.33 pages. Justices Kennard and Chin averaged the shortest majority opinions – 17.33 and 16.83 pages, respectively. For 2004, Chief Justice George averaged 43.6 pages per majority opinion. Justices Moreno, Kennard and Werdegar were next at 25.3 pages, 21.25 pages and 21 pages. Justice Brown averaged the shortest opinions in 2004 at 13.89 pages. For 2005, Chief Justice George once again led at 32.38 pages. Justices Brown, Moreno, Baxter and Werdegar were tightly bunched – 23.75 pages, 22.83 pages, 22.63 pages and 22.17 pages, respectively. Justice Kennard once again averaged the shortest opinions at 17.83 pages. For 2006, Chief Justice George led with an average majority opinion of 43 pages. Justices Moreno and Baxter were next at 29.56 pages and 29 pages. Justices Kennard and Corrigan averaged the shortest opinions – 16.25 pages and 16.17 pages. For 2007, Chief Justice George once again led with an average majority opinion of 35.22 pages. Justices Baxter and Moreno were next, averaging 26 pages each. Justice Werdegar averaged 22 pages, Justice Kennard averaged 20.5 pages. The shortest average civil opinions in 2007 were Justice Chin at 19.75 pages and Justice Corrigan at 14.33 pages.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s majority opinions in death penalty appeals between 2000 and 2007.