Last time, we reviewed the distribution of majority opinions in criminal cases among the Justices from 1990 to 2018. This time, we’re looking at the length of the Justices’ opinions – who wrote the longest and shortest majority opinions? Of course, the data here is strongly affected the Court’s death penalty opinions, where majority opinions tend to be much longer than in non-death cases.
In 1990, Justice Eagleson averaged 54.88 pages in his final year on the Court, and Justice Kaufman (also in his final year) averaged 54 pages. Justice Panelli averaged 26.6 pages. In 1991, Justice Kennard averaged 69.33 pages, while Justice Panelli averaged 25.38 pages. In 1992, Justice Kennard averaged 59.33 pages. Chief Justice Lucas wrote the shortest opinions at 31.6 pages. In 1993, Justice Panelli averaged 38.33 pages, while Justice Arabian averaged 19.75 pages. In 1994, Justice Baxter led with an average opinion of 60.33 pages. Justice Panelli averaged 10 pages. In 1995, Justice Mosk averaged 59.67 pages, while Justice Baxter averaged only 19.5 pages. In 1996, Justice Mosk averaged 62 page criminal majorities. Justice Panelli averaged only two pages.
In 1997, Justice Baxter’s majority opinions averaged 99 pages, and Justice Kennard average 72.2. Justice Mosk averaged 15.5 pages. In 1998, Justice Baxter averaged 70.14 pages, and Justice Chin averaged 30.2. In 1999, Chief Justice George averaged 50 pages, while Justice Brown’s majority opinions averaged only 17 pages. In 2000, Chief Justice George’s opinions averaged 47.67 pages. Justice Brown averaged 19 pages. In 2001, Justice Werdegar’s majority opinions averaged 43.6 pages, while Justice Mosk’s averaged sixteen pages. In 2002, Justice Werdegar averaged 73 pages. Justice Brown averaged 17.2 pages. In 2003, Justice Werdegar averaged 56.2 pages. Justice Baxter’s majority opinions averaged 25 pages.
In 2004, Justice Werdegar averaged 79 pages per majority opinion, while Justice Kennard averaged only 17.21 pages. In 2005, Chief Justice George’s majority opinions averaged 64.73 pages. Justice Chin’s opinions averaged 31.1 pages. In 2006, Justice Baxter’s majority opinions averaged 63.73 pages. Justice Chin’s opinions averaged 27.56 pages. In 2007, the Chief Justice’s opinions averaged 51.14 pages and Justice Corrigan’s averaged 22.2 pages. In 2008, Justice Moreno’s majority opinions averaged 54 pages, while Justice Corrigan’s were 29.3 pages. In 2009, Chief Justice George’s majority opinions averaged 62.6 pages. Justice Werdegar’s were 26 pages. In 2010, Justice Moreno averaged 54.13 pages per majority opinion, while Justice Kennard’s opinions averaged 23.75 pages.
In 2011, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s average majority opinion was 70 pages, while Justice Kennard averaged 22.29 pages. In 2012, the Chief Justice’s average majority opinion was 64.33 pages. Justice Kennard was once again shortest at 28.64 pages. In 2013, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s average criminal majority opinion was 69.1 pages. Justice Corrigan’s average was 22.86 pages. In 2014, the Chief Justice’s average majority opinion was 68.78 pages, while Justice Werdegar’s average was 32 pages. In 2015, the Chief Justice once again averaged the longest majorities – 43.57 pages. Justice Cuellar was shortest at twenty pages. In 2016, Justice Liu narrowly edged out the Chief Justice, averaging 65.14 pages to the Chief Justice’s 62.5 pages. Justice Corrigan had the lowest average – 29.4 pages. In 2017, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye averaged 66.5 pages per majority opinion, while Justice Cuellar was again shortest at twenty pages. Last year, Justice Kruger averaged the longest criminal majority opinions – 52.2 pages. Justice Corrigan wrote the shortest opinions at 28 pages.
Join us back here next time as we turn our attention to a new area of inquiry.