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).
She has filed 125 concurring opinions – 53 in civil cases and 72 in criminal cases.
She has also filed 101 dissents – 50 in civil cases, 51 in criminal cases.
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.