For the past few weeks, we’ve been tracking the Justices’ individual majority opinions, looking at whether any of the Justices tend to write longer (or shorter) majority opinions. Today, we’ve reached the majority opinions in the Court’s civil cases between 2010 and 2015.
We begin as usual by reviewing the number of majority opinions written by each Justice in each year. In 2010, Justice Karmeier led the Court with eight majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Burke was next, writing six majority opinions. Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Thomas were next, with each writing five majorities. In 2011, Justices Burke and Thomas led, writing seven majority opinions apiece. Justices Garman, Freeman and Theis wrote six each. For 2012, Justice Freeman wrote seven majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Garman, Thomas and Theis wrote six majority opinions each. Justices Burke and Karmeier wrote five majority opinions apiece. For 2013, Justices Burke and Karmeier led, with each writing seven majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Thomas wrote six opinions and Justice Garman and Justice Theis wrote five apiece. The following year, Justice Burke led the Court, writing six majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Thomas and Theis wrote five each, and Justices Freeman, Kilbride and Karmeier wrote three apiece. Finally, in 2015, Justice Karmeier led with nine majority opinions in civil cases. Justices Freeman, Thomas and Theis were next, writing seven majorities apiece. Justice Burke wrote six opinions, and Justice Kilbride wrote five.
We address the average length of each Justice’s opinions in Table 393 below. For the past six years, the data suggests that no Justice tends to write, year after year, longer or shorter majority opinions. For 2010, Justice Garman led the Court, averaging 21.33 pages per majority opinion. Justice Karmeier was next at 18 pages, followed by Chief Justice Fitzgerald at 16 and Justice Thomas at 15.6 pages. For 2011, Justice Garman once again led the Court, but averaging only 15.67 pages per majority opinion. Justice Theis averaged 15.5 pages, and Justice Thomas averaged 14.71 pages. Justice Burke was next, averaging 12.14 pages.
Majority opinions were quite short in 2012. Justice Theis led the Court, but averaged only 14.83 pages per majority opinion. Justice Garman was next at 12.67 pages, followed by Justice Karmeier (12 pages), Justice Thomas (10.67 pages) and Justice Burke (10 pages). For 2013, the average opinion was up a bit, as Justice Kilbride – historically, one of the shorter opinion-writers on the Court – led with an average of 15 pages per majority opinion. Justice Thomas was next at 12.67 pages, followed by Justices Karmeier and Garman at 12 pages and Justice Burke at 9.86 pages. In 2014, Justice Kilbride once again led the Court, averaging 15 pages for his majority opinions. Justice Thomas averaged 14.6 pages. Justice Freeman was at 12.67 pages, Justice Burke was at 12.5 pages, Justice Theis averaged 11 pages, and Justice Garman averaged 10 pages. Last year, Justice Karmeier led the Court, averaging 15.44 pages for his majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Thomas was next, averaging 14.14 pages, followed by Justice Garman (14 pages), Justice Burke (13.67 pages), Justice Kilbride (12.6 pages) and Justice Freeman (12.14 pages).
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal opinions between 2010 and 2015.