Over the past two weeks, we’ve reviewed the data on the distribution of the Court’s majority opinions in civil cases, and which Justice wrote the longest and shortest majorities each year. Today, we’re reviewing the data in criminal cases.
In our first table, we review the data for 1990 to 1996. In 1990, Justice Stamos wrote twelve majority opinions in criminal cases, followed by Justices Calvo, Miller, Ryan and Ward with eleven each. Chief Justice Moran wrote five. In 1991, Justice Clark wrote fourteen majorities and Justice Moran wrote eleven. Justice Calvo wrote one prior to his passing in June. In 1992, Justice Cunningham wrote sixteen majorities, Justice Clark wrote fourteen and Justices Charles Freeman and Thomas Moran wrote thirteen. Justice Bilandic wrote eight. In 1993, Justice Heiple wrote eight majority opinions and Justice Bilandic wrote seven. Justice McMorrow wrote two. In 1994, Chief Justice Bilandic led with twelve majority opinions and Justice Freeman wrote eleven. Justice Nickels wrote four. In 1995, Justice Nickels wrote thirteen opinions, and Justices Heiple, McMorrow and Miller wrote a dozen each. Justice Harrison wrote six. In 1996, Justices Freeman and Miller wrote ten majority opinions, and Chief Justice Bilandic wrote nine. Justice Nickels wrote two.
In 1997, Justices Nickels and Harrison led with ten majority opinions each. Justice Heiple wrote nine. Chief Justice Freeman wrote four. In 1998, Justice McMorrow led with fourteen majorities. Justice Heiple wrote four. In 1999, Justice Heiple led with nine majority opinions. Justice Harrison wrote four. In 2000, Justice Heiple once again led, writing fourteen majority opinions in criminal cases. Justice McMorrow wrote seven. In 2001, Justice McMorrow led with sixteen majority opinions to Justice Freeman’s twelve. New Justices Garman and Kilbride wrote four and two, respectively. In 2002, Justices Fitzgerald and Thomas led with thirteen majority opinions. Retiring Chief Justice Harrison and new Justice Rarick wrote one apiece. In 2003, Justice Fitzgerald wrote thirteen majority opinions to Justice McMorrow’s eleven. Justice Kilbride wrote three.
In Table 983, we total up the leaders in majority opinions for the entire period 1990 to 2003. The overall leaders were Justices Freeman (114), Miller (103) and McMorrow (100). Justices Heiple and BIlandic wrote 87 and 85. The lowest totals, of course, were by the Justices who either left the Court shortly after the beginning of our period in 1990, or joined only shortly before 2003 – Calvo (12), Cunningham (18), Kilbride (14), Rarick (6), Rathje (18), Stamos (12) Ryan and Ward (11 each).
In 2004, Justice Rarick led the Court with ten majority opinions in criminal cases. Justices Thomas and Garman wrote nine each. Chief Justice McMorrow and Justice Freeman wrote seven apiece. In 2005, Chief Justice McMorrow and Justices Freeman and Thomas wrote nine majority opinions apiece, while Justices Fitzgerald, Garman and Karmeier wrote seven apiece. In 2006, Justice Fitzgerald wrote ten majority opinions, while new Justice Burke wrote one. In 2007, Justice Freeman wrote five majorities and Justice Fitzgerald wrote two. In 2008, Justices Burke, Garman and Karmeier wrote eight majority opinions each. Justice Kilbride wrote two. In 2009, majority opinions on the criminal side were almost evenly distributed – Justices Burke, Fitzgerald, Freeman, Garman and Kilbride wrote seven each. Chief Justice Thomas and Justice Karmeier wrote six apiece. In 2010, Justice Kilbride wrote a dozen majority opinions. Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Freeman wrote four each.
In 2011, Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Karmeier and Freeman wrote seven majority opinions each. Justice Theis wrote five. In 2012, Justices Burke, Garman and Theis led with seven majority opinions apiece. Chief Justice Kilbride and Justice Freeman wrote two. In 2013, Justices Karmeier and Theis led with seven majority opinions, while Chief Justice Kilbride wrote two. In 2014, Chief Justice Garman led with seven majorities. Justice Burke wrote one. In 2015, Justice Thomas wrote six majority opinions, while Chief Justice Kilbride, Burke and Theis wrote five apiece. In 2016, Chief Justice Garman again led with seven majority opinions. Justice Theis wrote three. In 2017, Justice Theis led, writing seven majority opinions in criminal cases. Justice Thomas wrote three. Finally, last year, Chief Justice Karmeier led, writing five majority opinions. Justice Freeman wrote two prior to his retirement.
Below, we total up the opinions for the entire period of 2004 to 2018. Justice Garman wrote ninety-seven opinions. Justices Thomas, Freeman and Kilbride wrote 88, 81 and 81, respectively. Chief Justice Karmeier has written seven-nine. Justice McMorrow, Rarick and new Justice Neville have written 19, 10 and 3, respectively.
Join us next time as we review the data on the length of the Justices’ opinions.