Yesterday, we continued our analysis of the Court’s majority opinions, reviewing which Justices wrote most and least often for the Court in non-death criminal matters, and which tended to write the longest and shortest majority opinions for the years 2000-2007. Today, we turn our attention to the Court’s majority opinions in civil cases between 2008 and 2015.
For the entire period, Justice Werdegar wrote the most majority opinions in civil cases at 50. Justice Chin wrote 41 majority opinions. Justice Kennard wrote 34, Justice Baxter 33, Justice Corrigan 31, Justice Liu 22 and Justice Moreno 20.
For 2008, Justice Moreno led with eight majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Werdegar and Chin were next with seven apiece, followed by Justice Kennard with six. For 2009, Justices Kennard and Moreno led with nine majority opinions. Justice Chin wrote eight, and Justices Werdegar and Baxter wrote six each. For 2010, Justice Chin led, writing eight majority opinions in civil cases. Chief Justice George and Justices Kennard, Werdegar and Baxter were next with six majorities apiece. For 2011, Justice Werdegar led with nine majority opinions. Justice Baxter wrote seven, Justice Chin wrote six and Justice Corrigan wrote five. For 2012, Justice Liu led with six majority opinions. Justice Werdegar wrote five, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Kennard wrote four each, and Justice Chin wrote three. For 2013, Justice Liu led with eight majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Werdegar and Corrigan tied with five apiece, and the Chief Justice and Justices Chin and Baxter wrote four each. For 2014, Justice Corrigan led with six majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Werdegar and Liu wrote four apiece, and Justices Kennard and Baxter wrote three each. For 2015, Justice Werdegar led with eight majority opinions in civil cases. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was next with seven, followed by Justice Corrigan with six and Justices Chin and Liu with four each.
The data on mean length of majority opinions is somewhat skewed, since the Chief Justice has written the majority opinion for a number of high-profile cases heard by the court in the past eight years. Chief Justice George wrote the longest average civil majorities from 2008 to 2010, and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has led in average length in four of the past five years. For 2008, Justices Moreno and Baxter were second and third behind the Chief Justice, averaging 26 and 25.8 pages. Justices Chin and Corrigan averaged the shortest opinions, but not by a wide margin – 22.29 pages and 20.25 pages. For 2009, Justices Baxter and Moreno were second behind the Chief Justice, averaging 22.67 and 22.11 pages per majority opinion. The shortest average opinions on the Court were by Justice Kennard (17.67 pages and Justice Corrigan (12 pages). For 2010, Justice Werdegar was second, with an average majority opinion of 30.17 pages. Justice Corrigan was second at 27 pages, followed by Justice Baxter at 26.5 pages. The shortest average opinions were by Justice Moreno at 19.44 pages and Justice Kennard at 17.67 pages.
For 2011, Justice Werdegar was second behind Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye in average majority at 28.78 pages. Justice Moreno averaged 26 pages, and Justice Baxter 25.14 pages. Justices Kennard and Chin wrote the shortest opinions in 2011, at 17.75 pages and 11.5 pages. For 2012, Justice Werdegar was second, averaging 29.2 pages, followed by Justices Chin (27.33) and Corrigan (26). 2013 was the only year in the period in which the Chief Justice did not average the longest majority opinions: Justice Liu averaged 35.13 pages. The Chief Justice was right behind, averaging 34.5 pages. Justices Werdegar and Baxter were next, at 26 and 23.5 pages. Justices Chin and Corrigan wrote the shortest average opinions, at 19.75 pages and 19.2 pages. For 2014, Justice Baxter was second behind the Chief Justice with an average majority opinion of 33.33 pages. Justice Liu averaged 28.25 pages and Justice Corrigan averaged 24 pages. Justice Chin wrote the shortest civil opinions for the year at 18 pages. Last year, several Justices averaged shorter opinions than their trends. Justice Chin was second behind the Chief Justice, with an average of 31.25 pages. Justice Liu averaged 24.25 pages, and Justice Cuellar 23, but Justices Corrigan, Werdegar and Kruger all averaged less than 20 pages per majority opinion.
Join us back here next Thursday as we turn our attention to the Court’s death penalty and other criminal majority opinions for the years 2008 through 2015.