Fantasy League Update

The first eight supreme-court decisions of the 2018-19 fantasy-league season brought points to all five teams, with the Gavels and the Writs—the two preseason favorites—leading the way. The Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office got off to a blistering start with 15 points (from a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in State v. Reed and a brief and oral argument in State v. Wiskerchen), while the Writs displayed early strength with 10 points from Habush Habush & Rottier (brief, oral argument, and favorable decision in Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin).

The Affirmed picked up six points (from a brief and oral argument by Kasdorf Lewis & Swietlik and an amicus brief by Stafford Rosenbaum, both in Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin), followed by the Waivers with three points from von Briesen & Roper (a brief but no oral argument in SECURA Insurance) and the Citations with a point from Godfrey & Kahn (an amicus brief in SECURA Insurance).

Click here for the 2018-19 team rosters, here for a summary of the current standings, and here for the scoring rules.

The 2018-19 Fantasy League Season Preview

As evening approached on the last day of the Fantasy League’s winter meetings, few in attendance could have anticipated the drama set to unfold just hours before the midnight trade deadline. Shortly after the commissioner’s address at the closing banquet, word spread through the hall that the Writs had set a blockbuster trade in motion—and, before long, the league office confirmed that the Writs had acquired the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) from the Affirmed in return for two law firms: Nash, Spindler, Grimstad & McCracken and Herrling Clark.[Continue Reading…]

Justice Abrahamson’s Prominence: Part 3

A recent post (inspired by Richard Posner’s Cardozo: A Study in Reputation) offered a means of assessing the influence of Justice Shirley Abrahamson during her unprecedented tenure on the bench.  This technique compared the number of times that appellate courts cited her opinions with the number of times that they cited opinions written by her colleagues in Madison.[1]  However, Posner did not confine himself to inspecting courts’ decisions, and neither will we, as there are other ways of gauging judicial stature.  One of these—the frequency with which a justice’s opinions and other endeavors are cited by law-review articles—is today’s topic.[Continue Reading…]

Oral Advocates at the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Today we examine the volume of oral arguments at the Wisconsin Supreme Court over the past ten terms and acknowledge the work of attorneys who have been the most active in this regard.  The scale of their labors is extensive, as a legion of 724 lawyers delivered a total of 1261 oral arguments in cases decided between September 1, 2008, and August 31, 2018.[1]  The large majority of these lawyers—68% (492/724)—appeared only once to argue before the justices, while, at the other end of the frequency spectrum, 106 lawyers (15% of the 724 total) each presented at least three oral arguments and accounted for 41% of the 1261 arguments conducted.[Continue Reading…]

Justice Abrahamson’s Influence: Part 2

Last month’s post on the number of opinions written by Justice Shirley Abrahamson during her record-breaking tenure on the bench prompted a generous reader to suggest that I look over Richard Posner’s Cardozo: A Study in Reputation to see if some of the techniques employed by Posner to gauge a justice’s judicial influence could also be applied in an assessment of Justice Abrahamson’s career.[1]  The reader, Bill Tyroler, directed my attention to chapter five—“Cardozo’s Reputation: Measures of Magnitude”—which presents data on the number of times that other courts cited Cardozo’s majority opinions.  What follows here are the findings of an investigation derived from this segment of Posner’s analysis. [Continue Reading…]

Justice Abrahamson by the Numbers

In September, Justice Shirley Abrahamson began her forty-third term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a span of service several years longer than that of the previous record, intact for over a century.[1]  As she has announced that her forty-third term will also be her last, it seems an appropriate time to provide some perspective on the remarkable length of Justice Abrahamson’s tenure—and how prolific she has been during it.[Continue Reading…]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1977-1978

These tables are derived from information contained in 247 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Lexis search for decisions filed between September 1, 1977, and August 31, 1978.  The total of 247 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) various motions and petitions, and (2) disciplinary matters involving lawyers and judges.  Among the items omitted is Kristi Koschkee v. Tony Evers, which resulted in an order pertaining to two preliminary motions.

I am also excluding In re Court of Appeals, a per curiam ruling (with no case number) on a matter pertaining to the establishment of the Court of Appeals. 

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic in 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

 

The 2017-18 Term: Some More Impressions

With data for the 2017-18 term in hand, we can update our findings regarding three aspects of the justices’ work that SCOWstats has been following for several years: (1) the number of concurrences and dissents per decision, (2) the number of days between oral argument and decision filing, and (3) the number of pages per decision.  In all three instances, the quantities decreased, thereby continuing—indeed, accelerating—declines that had begun the previous term.[Continue Reading…]

Readers’ Picks: Unusual Wisconsin Supreme Court Decisions in 2017-18

Now that the court has filed its last substantive decision for the 2017-18 term, it’s time to take stock of readers’ “nominations” of decisions with surprising or humorous aspects.  As promised to those who furnished information, I have not identified them or their law firms.[Continue Reading…]

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 2017-2018

These tables are derived from information contained in 59 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions filed between September 1, 2017, and the end of the court’s term in the summer of 2018.  The total of 59 decisions does not include (1) orders pertaining to various motions, petitions, and disciplinary matters, and (2) a case dismissed because review had been improvidently granted (Mark Halbman v. Mitchell J. Barrock).

In addition to the 59 decisions noted above, three deadlocked (3-3) per curiam decisions were filed (In Re: Partnership Health Plan, Inc. v. Office of the Commissioner of Insurance; Wingra Redi-Mix, Inc. v. Burial Sites Preservation Board; and Wingra Redi-Mix, Inc. v. State Historical Society of Wisconsin).  As we have not been informed how individual justices voted, these cases are included only in the “Number of Oral Arguments Presented” table. 

It is also worth noting that State v. David Hager, Jr. and State v. Howard Carter were consolidated after oral argument and handled in a single decision.  For our purposes, this is counted as one decision rather than two.

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