Comparing the Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa Supreme Courts–Part 1

Two posts this June compared the performances of the Wisconsin and Minnesota Supreme Courts and found significant differences.  As substantial as the contrasts were, however, the comparison of only two states made it impossible to conclude that one state’s supreme court was more unusual than the other’s regarding the topics under consideration.  To shed light on this question, the supreme courts in Wisconsin and Minnesota would have to be measured against courts from a sampling of other states, and we’ll begin the process today by adding Iowa’s supreme court to the discussion.[1]

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1990-91 and 2015-16: Some Contrasts

Much has changed at the Wisconsin Supreme Court over the past 25 years, including all but one of the justices.[1]  A pair of recent posts provided data regarding the supreme court’s activity at each end of this quarter century—1990-91 and 2015-16—which now furnish us an opportunity to compare these two terms with a focus on topics that have figured prominently in SCOWstats.

Number and Speed of Decisions
In certain respects, a comparison of the beginning and end of this 25-year interval accentuates trends already apparent for several years—developments such as the growing period of time required to generate a shrinking number of decisions.  Thus the 83 decisions filed in 1990-91 nearly doubled the total of 43 filed in 2015-16, yet the average period between oral argument and the filing of a decision was roughly a month and a half shorter in 1990-91 than in 2015-16 (91 days and 136 days respectively).
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Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1990-1991

These tables are derived from information contained in 83 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Lexis search for decisions filed between September 1, 1990, and August 31, 1991.  The total of 83 decisions does not include rulings … [Continue reading]

The 2015-16 Term: Some More Impressions

Graph--Number of pages per decision

Writing jointly in State v. Lynch three weeks ago, Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley observed that, “although we have not done a statistical analysis, our perception is that few of the court’s decisions this term have been unanimous … [Continue reading]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 2015-2016

These tables are derived from information contained in 40 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions filed between September 1, 2015, and the end of the court’s term in July, 2016.[1]  The total of 40 decisions does not include the following items contained … [Continue reading]

Fantasy League Honors its Stars

Awards banquet table of teams, firms, and points

The filing of the supreme court’s last substantive decisions a week ago brought the 2015-16 term to an end and thus served as the final whistle in the fantasy league’s inaugural season—a spectacle of spirited competition in which the Gavels of the … [Continue reading]

The Supreme Court’s 2015-16 Term: Some Initial Impressions

Table 1--4-3 alignments in 2015-16

On July 13, the Supreme Court filed its last substantive decisions of the term, making it possible now to offer impressions of the court’s complete body of work for 2015-16.  Some findings provide detail regarding speculation that emerged months ago, … [Continue reading]

Fantasy League Update

Teams collected points from three of the decisions released yesterday and today— Lands’ End, Inc. v. City of Dodgeville; State v. Timothy L. Finley; and Aman Singh v. Paul Kemper—resulting in a dramatic change in the standings. The Affirmed … [Continue reading]

Fantasy League Update

Today’s trio of decisions (Sonja Blake v. Debra Jossart; State v. Leopoldo R. Salas Gayton; and Dennis D. Dufour v. Progressive Classic Ins. Co.) brought points to four of the league’s five teams and produced multiple changes in the standings. The … [Continue reading]

United States v. Wisconsin–Polarization of the Courts

Table 4--US v Wisconsin--polarization

“Decrying polarization is everyone’s favorite game in Washington, but in the case of the Supreme Court, it’s statistically measurable.”  So began an article in The Wire at the end of the United States Supreme Court’s 2011-12 term.  Referring to … [Continue reading]