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

 

The Supreme Court’s 2017-18 Term: Some Initial Impressions

Now that the court’s final three substantive decisions have been filed, the time has come for the first in a series of posts on the justices’ activities in 2017-18, comparing them to our findings from previous years.[Continue Reading…]

Fantasy League Honors its Stars

With the filing of the last substantive decision of the term earlier this month, the 2017-18 fantasy league season has concluded—and the Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office have three-peated as champions.  The Gavels rebuffed spirited challenges from the Waivers and the Affirmed, both of whom finished with 73 points.  Although this total would easily have won the league championship in 2015-16, it proved insufficient to overcome the Gavels two years later.  They seized the lead in mid-January and clutched it with an ever-tightening grip all the rest of the way, finishing with 95 points and eclipsing their own record of the previous year.

Those unable to attend last week’s awards banquet may not be aware that Hannah Schieber Jurss was saluted as this season’s MVP for the 30 points that she contributed to the Gavels’ victory.  Her stunning total of five oral arguments even surpassed the number delivered by the most active attorney from the Department of Justice—this year, the Solicitor General himself—a rare accomplishment indeed.  Several other firms (most notably Quarles & Brady) were also recognized for their impressive performances, which are evident in the following table.

As the season comes to a close, the Executive Committee at SCOWstats would like to take this opportunity express gratitude for the recent listing in Feedspot’s compilation of theTop 60 Wisconsin Blogsin 2018.

Fantasy League Update

The court did not file any decisions this past week—hence, no change in the standings.

Fantasy League Update

Once again, the decisions filed this week brought points to all of the league’s teams.  However, the Affirmed stood out from the pack by tallying 16 points—all from John McAdams v. Marquette University: Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (10 points for a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome), Gass Weber Mullins (5 points for a brief and oral argument), and Foley & Lardner (1 point for an amicus brief). 

This decision also distributed points to the Citations (2 points from Godfrey & Kahn for 2 amicus briefs), the Writs (1 point from Michael Best & Friedrich for an amicus brief), and the Waivers (1 point from Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren for an amicus brief).

As a result, the Affirmed pulled even with the Waivers in second place.  They also gained ground on the Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office, although the league-leaders maintained some breathing room with a 10-point performance in State v. Patrick H. Dalton (brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome).

Click here for the current standings.

Crowd-Sourcing Invitation

This is a monthly reminder to readers to “nominate” any Wisconsin Supreme Court cases from the 2017-18 term that contain surprising aspects.  I will maintain a collection of cases submitted and post them at the end of the summer.  “Surprising aspects” could include (1) decisions featuring odd combinations of justices dissenting or in the majority; (2) arguments in a majority or separate opinion that one might not expect from the author in question; (3) an unusual source in a footnote; (4) a popular-culture reference out of the blue; (5) a humorous passage; (6) a case in which a husband and wife delivered oral arguments on opposing sides; (7) something else unusual about the law firms involved—in short, pretty much anything unexpected.

Please email me your nominations (alan.ball@marquette.edu), as many as you wish, confident in the assurance that I will not reveal the names of nominators or their firms when I display our harvest at the end of the summer.  Please also include a brief explanation (just a sentence or two would likely suffice) indicating the case’s curious feature.  A number of nominations are already in hand, and I hope that the collection will continue to grow.