Last week, we finished comparing where in the state the Supreme Court’s civil and criminal dockets have been drawn from between 2000 and 2015. Today, we begin a new subject, comparing the two dockets by the area of law involved.
In Table 190 below, we report the data for the two leading areas of law in both the civil and criminal dockets. Several things are noteworthy about this chart. First, although tort is nearly always the biggest single share of the Court’s civil docket, the number of tort cases does move up and down substantially from one year to the next. The second most common civil area, government and administrative law, produces a more consistent number of cases from one year to the next. Habeas corpus cases dominated the criminal docket at the outset of this period, but dropped sharply over the five years. Constitutional law was steadier, with the number of cases slowly rising from 2000 to 2003 before dipping in 2004.
We report the composition of the civil docket in 2000 below, in Table 191. As suggested by the Table above, tort was the single biggest portion of the docket, accounting for 28.95% of the Court’s civil cases. Government and administrative cases were 13.16% of the docket, followed by civil procedure and workers’ compensation with 10.53% of the docket apiece. After that, insurance and domestic relations contributed 7.89% of the civil docket each. Contract and tax law were 5.26% of the docket each. The rest of the civil docket was scattered, with the Court hearing one case each in property, election, environmental and constitutional law.
In 2000, almost exactly one-third of the Court’s criminal docket involved habeas corpus claims. Just short of 20% were death penalty appeals, and another 16.28% were constitutional law cases. Criminal procedure cases accounted for 8.14% of the caseload, with another 4.65% each contributed by both sentencing cases and attorney admission and fitness matters. Violent crimes and juvenile offenses accounted for 3.49% of the docket each; the Court heard two cases each involving property crimes and sex offenses, and one involving drug offenses.
Tort cases fell to 17.65% of the civil docket in 2001. Civil procedure and government/administrative law cases stayed more or less static as a share of the civil docket at 13.73% and 11.76%, respectively. Insurance and domestic relations cases accounted for 7.89% of the docket each, followed by contract and tax law, which contributed 5.26% each. The rest of the civil docket was made up of one case each in four different fields – property, election, environmental and constitutional law.
We report the data for the criminal docket in 2001 in Table 194 below. Constitutional law cases were substantially up in 2001 to 28.81% of the docket. Habeas corpus cases were down, amounting to 22.03% of the criminal docket. Death penalty appeals and criminal procedure cases accounted for 11.86% of the docket each. Juvenile offenses and sentencing cases were flat, remaining at 10.17% and 8.47% of the criminal docket, respectively. The Court heard two cases involving sex crimes, or 3.39% of the docket, and one case each involving violent crimes and vehicle crimes.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn to the Court’s civil and criminal dockets between 2002 and 2004.