For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the distribution among the Justices of the Court’s majority opinions in civil cases and identifying which Justice each year wrote the longest and shortest opinions. Today, we’re looking at the data for the criminal docket.
In Table 753, we review the distribution of majority opinions between 1990 and 1996. At the beginning of our period, the Court issued an enormous number of its criminal majorities as per curiam opinions. In 1990, forty-three criminal decisions were signed by the Court as a whole. Departing Justice Kaufman wrote one criminal majority, and Justices Arabian, Broussard and Kennard wrote two. In 1991, there were twenty-one per curiam majorities. Chief Justice Lucas wrote twelve, and Justices Baxter, Broussard and Kennard wrote three each. In 1992, the Court apparently ended its practice of issuing a large number of criminal majority opinions as per curiam. The busiest authors were Chief Justice Lucas and Justice Arabian with ten each. Justice Kennard wrote only three. In 1993, Justice George wrote eleven majority opinions, while Justice Panelli wrote three. In 1994, Chief Justice Lucas and Justice George (his future successor) wrote ten criminal majorities each. Justice Panelli (in his last year) and Justice Werdegar (in her first) wrote one each. In 1995, Justice Werdegar wrote nine majority opinions in criminal cases. Justices George and Kennard wrote four each. In 1996, Justice Baxter led with seven majority opinions. New Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote two.
In 1997, Justice Brown wrote eleven majority opinions in criminal cases, while Justice Baxter wrote only one. In 1998, Chief Justice George wrote ten majorities. Justice Kennard wrote three. In 1999, Justice Chin led, writing ten majority opinions. Justice Mosk wrote four. In 2000, Justice Chin once again led with eleven majority opinions. Chief Justice George wrote six. In 2001, the Chief Justice and Justice Kennard wrote twelve opinions apiece, and Justice Chin wrote ten. Retiring Chief Justice Mosk wrote three. In 2002, four Justices – Chin (16), Baxter (13), George (13) and Brown (10) hit double digits. New Justice Moreno wrote two criminal majorities. In 2003, Justice Brown wrote thirteen majorities and Justice Chin wrote a dozen. Justice Werdegar wrote five.
In Table 755, we total up the years 1990 through 2003. Chief Justice George led, writing for the Court 101 times. Justice Baxter was next, writing 91 majority opinions. Justices Chin and Kennard were next at 76 and 70 majority opinions. Justice Mosk wrote 64 majorities, Chief Justice Lucas wrote 63 and Justice Brown wrote 62.
In 2004, Justices Chin and Kennard led with thirteen majority opinions each, while Justice Werdegar wrote five. In 2005, Chief Justice George and Justice Brown wrote eleven majorities and Justice Moreno wrote five. In 2006, Justice Baxter wrote ten majority opinions, while Justice Werdegar wrote five. In 2007, Justice Chin led, writing thirteen majority opinions, and Justice Kennard wrote five. In 2008, Chief Justice George wrote thirteen majority opinion. Justice Moreno wrote five. In 2009, Justice Corrigan wrote twelve majority opinions. Justice Kennard wrote only five. In 2010, Justices Baxter and Corrigan wrote eleven majority opinions each. The Chief Justice wrote one.
In 2011, Justices Chin and Corrigan wrote a dozen criminal majority opinions. Justice Moreno wrote three. In 2012, majority opinions were evenly distributed – Justice Baxter wrote fourteen, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Chin and Corrigan wrote twelve each, and Justice Kennard wrote eleven. Justice Moreno wrote six. In 2013, Justice Chin and the Chief Justice wrote twelve and ten majority opinions, respectively. Justice Kennard wrote two. In 2014, Justice Kennard wrote ten majority opinions. Justice Werdegar wrote one. In 2015, Justice Werdegar led with nine majority opinions, and Justice Chin was right behind at eight. Justice Baxter wrote three majority opinions, and his successor Justice Cuellar wrote two. In 2016, Justice Chin wrote eleven majority opinions. Justices Corrigan and Kruger wrote five. In 2017, Justices Kruger and Corrigan led with seven majority opinions apiece. The Chief Justice wrote four. Last year, Justice Cuellar wrote eleven majority opinions, and Justices Kruger and Liu wrote ten each. The Chief Justice wrote four.
In our final table, we report the overall numbers for each Justice from 2004 to 2018. Justice Chin led by a wide margin, writing 147 majority opinions. Justice Corrigan wrote 115, Justice Baxter 101, and Justice Werdegar 97. The lowest numbers, as with the first half of our period, were Justices who either left the Court at the outset of the period or joined towards the end: Justice Cuellar wrote twenty-seven majority opinions, Justice Kruger has written twenty-two, and Justice Brown wrote twenty-one.
Join us next time for a review of the average lengths of the Justices’ opinions.