For the past few weeks, we’ve been studying the average length of the Court’s opinions, looking for insights about the Court’s decision-making. This week, we’re starting a related topic: which individual Justice tends to write the longest and shortest majority opinions in civil cases? Today, step one – we trace how many majority opinions each Justice wrote each year (since average lengths tend to have large random variations when they’re drawn from only a few opinions). Tomorrow, we’ll review the data for average length (and next week – the criminal docket).
In Table 743, we address the years 1990 through 1997. In 1990, the most prolific writer was Justice Panelli, with eleven majority opinions. The least was Justice Kaufman with two. In 1991, Chief Justice Lucas wrote ten opinions, Justice Eagleson, in his final year on the Court, wrote two. In 1992, Justices Panelli and Baxter wrote twelve opinions each and the Chief Justice filed eleven. Justices Kennard and Pro Tem Justice Puglia wrote one (if you’re wondering about Justice Puglia’s case, it was Carma Developers v. Marathon Development, No. S011486 – all seven members of the Supreme Court recused themselves, so the Third District Court of Appeal was ordered to review the Petition for Review and subsequent merits briefing and argument as a pro tem Supreme Court).
In 1993, Justice Panelli once again led with thirteen civil opinions, while Justice George wrote one. In 1994, Justice Arabian wrote eleven and Chief Justice Lucas and Justice Baxter wrote ten. Justice Panelli, in his final year on the Court, wrote one. In 1995, Justice Mosk wrote eleven majorities and Justice Werdegar wrote five. In 1996, Justice Mosk again led with eight civil majorities, and Chief Justice Lucas, in his final year on the Court, wrote one. In 1997, Justice Mosk wrote twelve, and new Justice Brown wrote two.
In 1998, Justice Mosk led with eleven majority opinions and Justice Brown was right behind at ten. Chief Justice George wrote three, and the Court issued two per curiam decisions in civil cases. In 1999, Justice Mosk write ten majorities and Justice Kennard wrote five (there was one per curiam). In 2000, Justices Mosk and Werdegar wrote nine majorities apiece, while Justice Kennard wrote three. In 2001, Justice Brown led with twelve majorities. Chief Justice George and Justice Kennard wrote four. In 2002, Justice Brown wrote thirteen majority opinions, and Justice Chin wrote three. In 2003, Justices Kennard and Werdegar shared the lead with nine opinions, while Justice Baxter wrote four. In 2004, Justice Werdegar wrote fourteen civil majority opinions. Justice Kennard wrote four.
In 2005, Justice Moreno wrote twelve majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Brown wrote four before her departure from the Court. In 2006, Justice Werdegar led with twelve majorities, and Justice Kennard wrote four. In 2007, Justice Moreno wrote eleven and Justice Werdegar wrote ten. Justice Baxter wrote four. In 2008, Justice Moreno wrote eight, and Chief Justice George wrote two. In 2009, Justices Kennard and Moreno wrote nine majorities. Justice Corrigan wrote two. In 2010, Justice Moreno wrote nine majority opinions and Justice Corrigan wrote only one on the civil side. In 2011, Justice Werdegar led with nine civil majority opinions, and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye wrote one.
In 2012, Justice Liu wrote the most civil majority opinions with six. Justices Baxter and Corrigan wrote two. In 2013, Justice Liu was once again the most active writer with eight civil majorities, and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Kennard wrote two each. In 2014, Justice Corrigan wrote six, while Justice Chin wrote one. In 2015, the Chief Justice and Justice Werdegar wrote seven civil majorities each, while Justice Kruger wrote one. In 2016, Justices Corrigan and Kruger wrote seven majority opinions each, and Justices Chin and Cuellar wrote three apiece. In 2017, Justice Corrigan wrote nine majority opinions, and Justice Werdegar wrote four. Last year, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye led with eight majority opinions, while Justice Kruger wrote three.
In Table 747, we report the overall totals for the first half of our database period – the years 1990 to 2004. For that period, Justices Mosk and Baxter were in a photo-finish for the top spot with ninety-three and ninety-two civil majority opinions, respectively. Justice Werdegar wrote eighty-three, followed by Chief Justice George and Justice Brown with sixty-eight each and Justice Kennard at sixty-five.
Finally, we report the totals for the period 2005 through 2018. Justice Werdegar led for these years, writing eighty-six majority opinions. Justice Chin was next at seventy-five. Justice Corrigan has written sixty-eight. Justice Moreno (59), Justice Baxter (53) and Justice Kennard (53) were next.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the data on the average length of each Justice’s civil majority opinions.