For the past few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the distribution of majority opinions among the Justices in civil, criminal and death penalty cases, and which Justices tend to write the longest (and shortest) opinions. Today, we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal cases between 2008 and 2015. Once again, we omit the death penalty appeals from this dataset to avoid skewing the results.
Over the past eight years, the most frequent author of non-death criminal majority opinions has been Justice Corrigan with 50. Justice Chin has written 45 opinions, Justice Baxter 44, Justice Werdegar 39 and Justice Kennard 33.
In 2008, Chief Justice George led the Court with nine majority opinions. Justices Corrigan and Werdegar were next with seven each, followed by Justice Baxter with six and Justice Kennard with four. In 2009, Justice Corrigan led with nine majorities, followed by Justices Werdegar and Chin with six apiece, Justice Kennard with five and Chief Justice George and Justice Baxter with four each. In 2010, Justice Baxter led with ten majority opinions. Chief Justice George wrote nine, Justice Corrigan seven and Justice Kennard six. In 2011, Justices Kennard and Chin led, each writing six majority opinions in non-death criminal cases. Justice Corrigan was next with five. In 2012, Justice Baxter led, writing thirteen criminal majority opinions (the busiest year anyone had during the period). Justice Corrigan wasn’t far behind with 11, and Justices Kennard and Chin wrote seven apiece. In 2013, Justice Chin led with seven majorities, followed by Justice Corrigan with six and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Werdegar with five each. In 2014, the majority opinions were almost evenly distributed – the Chief Justice and Justice Chin wrote five apiece, but Justices Corrigan, Kennard, Werdegar and Baxter wrote four each. Last year, Justices Werdegar and Liu led, each writing five majority opinions. The Chief Justice and Justice Chin wrote four each, and Justice Baxter wrote three.
The Chief Justices and Justice Baxter have most frequently averaged the longest majority opinions in criminal non-death cases. Justices Kennard, Chin and Werdegar have most frequently written the shortest average opinions.
For 2008, Chief Justice George averaged 29.22 pages per majority opinion. Justice Werdegar was next at 26.29 pages, followed by Justice Moreno at 20.5 and Justice Chin at 20.4. The shortest average majority opinion that year was Justice Kennard, who averaged 15.75 pages. For 2009, only three Justices averaged over twenty pages per majority opinion – Justice Chin (22 pages), Justice Baxter (21.5) and Chief Justice George (20.25). Justices Corrigan and Kennard wrote the shortest opinions that year, averaging 15.56 and 14.2 pages, respectively. For 2010, Chief Justice George averaged 29.44 pages, followed by Justice Werdegar at 28 pages and Justice Moreno at 24. Once again, Justices Corrigan and Justice Kennard were shortest at 13.86 and 11.67. The following year, Justice Corrigan had the highest per-opinion average at 30.2 pages. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was second t 23.67 pages. The shortest opinions were Justice Chin at 15.83 pages and Justice Werdegar at 11.
For 2012, Justice Werdegar averaged 34.8 pages in criminal non-death majority opinions. The Chief Justice was next at 28.25 pages, followed by Justice Corrigan at 23.55 pages. Justices Chin and Liu wrote the shortest opinions, at 14.14 and 12.25 pages, respectively. For 2013, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye led at 43.4 pages, followed by Justice Baxter at 24.67 pages. The shortest opinions in 2013 were Justice Kennard at 17 pages and Justice Chin at 16. For 2014, Justice Baxter led, averaging 30 pages per majority opinion. Justice Liu was next, averaging 28 pages, followed by Justice Kennard at 27.25. The shortest opinions were Justice Corrigan (15.5) and Justices Werdegar and Chin (14 pages each). Last year, Justice Baxter averaged the longest opinions at 29.33 pages. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye averaged 28.5, Justice Liu averaged 24.6 and Justice Corrigan averaged 23 pages. With average length up slightly last year, only two Justices averaged less than 20 pages – Justice Chin at 19.25 and Justice Werdegar at 17.6.
Join us back here tomorrow as we take a look at the Court’s majority opinions in death penalty appeals for the same period.