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 in the Supreme Court’s listing of opinions and dispositional orders for this period: (1) decisions arising from disciplinary proceedings against lawyers; and (2) orders pertaining to various motions and petitions.

Sometimes the Court’s listing of opinions and dispositional orders contains separate entries for individual cases that were consolidated and resolved by a single decision.  If two or more cases were consolidated in this manner, the decision is counted only once for the purposes of the following tables.

In addition to the 40 decisions noted above, two deadlocked (3-3) per curiam decisions were filed: New Richmond News v. City of New Richmond; and Yasmine Clark v. American Cyanamid Company.  These are included only in the “Number of Oral Arguments Presented” table.

The justices’ work this term also included an unusual decision in State v. Patrick J. Lynch, where no more than three justices could agree to affirm, reverse, or modify the decision of the court of appeals—which thus remained in force.  This case will be included only in the “Days Between Oral Argument and Opinion Filing” table and the “Number of Oral Arguments Presented” table.

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic according to the subsets listed below.

Four-to-Three Decisions
Decisions Arranged by Vote Split
Frequency of Justices in the Majority
Distribution of Opinion Authorship
Frequency of Agreement Between Pairs of Justices
Average Time Between Oral Argument and Opinions Authored by Each Justice
Number of Oral Arguments Presented by Individual Firms and Agencies


[1] According to the Clerk’s office, no additional substantive decisions will be filed after July 13.  The decisions may be found on the Wisconsin Court System website.

Fantasy League Honors its Stars

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 State Public Defender’s Office did not secure their victory until the last flurry of decisions released by the court.  The Gavels were led by attorneys Kaitlin Lamb and Catherine Malchow, whose performances accounted for nearly half of their team’s 45 points.

Several law firms from other teams also distinguished themselves, and if you were unable to attend last Saturday’s awards banquet, you may be interested to learn the final results for the Gavels’ competitors.

Awards banquet table of teams, firms, and points

At its winter meeting, the Selection Committee will begin filling out the rosters for next season’s teams.  Committee members will study how frequently individual law firms have appeared before the supreme court over the past few years and decide on that basis which participants from 2015-16 have been sufficiently active to retain roster spots in 2016-17—and which firms will be relegated, thereby making room for more active newcomers deserving an opportunity to showcase their vigor.

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]

Fantasy League Update

The filing of Fontana Builders, Inc. v. Assurance Company of America (June 29), David M. Marks v. Houston Casualty Company (June 30), and State v. Mastella L. Jackson (July 1) brought points to five of the league’s firms.  The Writs made the … [Continue reading]

Wisconsin v. Minnesota–Comparing the Supreme Courts, Part 2

Table 4--MN and WI-polarization

The term “polarized” has hovered over the Wisconsin Supreme Court in recent years, and it continues to provoke controversy regarding its applicability to the justices in Madison.  One of the reasons for the dispute is the absence of a … [Continue reading]

Fantasy League Update

Two of the three decisions released today affected the league’s standings.  Riding the performance of Nash, Spindler, Grimstad & McCracken in John Doe 56 v. Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire Clinic (a brief and a favorable outcome, but no … [Continue reading]

Wisconsin v. Minnesota–Comparing the Supreme Courts, Part 1

Table 3b--pages per opinion in MN

SCOWstats has, until now, measured the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent activity against earlier years of the court’s work.  Other reference frames are also available, however, and today launches what I hope will be the first in a series of posts … [Continue reading]