Fantasy League Update

With 11 points from State v. Zimbal (brief, oral argument, successful outcome, as well as an amicus brief), the Gavels of the Public Defender’s Office extended their lead over the second-place Affirmed.

current standings

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1986-1987

These tables are derived from information contained in 84 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Lexis search for decisions filed between September 1, 1986, and August 31, 1987.  The total of 84 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) disciplinary proceedings against lawyers and judges, (2) various motions and petitions, and (3) a case (In re 1987 State Bar Dues Referendum) that lacked oral argument, listed no attorneys, and resulted in a per curiam decision.

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

 

Fantasy League Update

After a month-long stretch in which the court issued no decisions involving league participants, a pair of decisions filed on June 8 moved both the Gavels and the Writs up a notch in the standings.  With 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Waukesha County v. J.W.J., the Gavels of the Public Defender’s Office edged back into first place, just ahead of the Affirmed.  Meanwhile, Legal Action of Wisconsin picked up 10 points for the Writs on the strength of a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in Dennis A. Teague v. Brad D. Schimel.  With this performance, the Writs climbed into third place, overtaking the Citations. 

It should be noted that the fractured nature of the Teague decision might suggest that the Writs should receive 5 points for the brief and oral argument, but not an additional 5 for a “favorable outcome.”  However, after a vigorous discussion of the Teague mandate, the league’s Executive Committee decided to award the full 10 points to the Writs.

current standings

A Spike in Fractured Decisions

Dissenting in State v. Weber, the first decision filed this term, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley worried that readers might misconstrue the opinion authored by Justice Ziegler as the “majority opinion.”  Justice Ziegler’s opinion appeared at the front of the published decision—where one would expect to find a majority opinion—but it should be viewed, Justice Bradley specified, as a “lead opinion,” devoid of any precedential value.  Acknowledging that one would search in vain for the definition of a “lead opinion” in the court’s Internal Operating Procedures, Justice Bradley offered her own explanation: “We have said ‘that a lead opinion is one that states (and agrees with) the mandate of a majority of the justices, but represents the reasoning of less than a majority of the participating justices.’”

She was quoting a definition published just a few months earlier in a joint dissent that she had authored with Justice Abrahamson in State v. LynchHere the need for a definition seemed even more pressing, as the initial opinion in the decision—written by Justice Gableman and designated by the court as the “lead opinion”—disagreed with the outcome of the court’s own ruling.  Attaching the label “lead opinion” to one at variance with the result of the court’s decision puzzled Justices Bradley and Abrahamson, who did not shroud their exasperation: “Reading Justice Gableman’s writing, designated as the ‘lead’ opinion, … makes us feel like we’ve stepped into ‘the Twilight Zone.’”  Such passages in their joint dissent—striking to court watchers—drew a similarly remarkable condemnation from Chief Justice Roggensack: “defamatory labeling of colleagues’ writings” “bottomed in a desire to injure rather than to inform.”  But she did not attempt to explain the casting of Justice Gableman’s writing as the “lead opinion.”[Continue Reading…]

Fantasy League Update

The past week witnessed another lead change, with Gass Weber Mullins earning five points for the Affirmed (from a brief and oral argument in Carolyn Moya v. Healthport Technologies, LLC), which thereby moved ahead of the Gavels by a single point.

current standings

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1987-1988

These tables are derived from information contained in 67 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Lexis search for decisions filed between September 1, 1987, and August 31, 1988.  The total of 67 decisions does not include rulings arising from (1) disciplinary proceedings against lawyers and judges, (2) various motions and petitions, and (3) a case (State v. Minued) in which the court decided that review had been improvidently granted.

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

Fantasy League Update

This week’s decisions produced another change in the seesaw struggle at the top of the standings.  The Affirmed picked up a point from an amicus brief in Smith v. Anderson, to which Axley Brynelson contributed, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Gavels of the Public Defender’s Office, who edged back into first place on the strength of seven points from a brief and oral argument and an amicus brief and oral argument in State v. Suriano.

current standings

Fantasy League Update

This week the Writs vaulted out of the cellar and over the Waivers on the strength of 10 points contributed by Habush Habush & Rottier (brief, oral argument, and favorable result in Donna Brenner v. National Casualty Company).

current standings

Strange Bedfellows in 4-3 Decisions at the Wisconsin Supreme Court

A few weeks ago, Justices Abrahamson, Ann Walsh Bradley, Roggensack, and Gableman combined to form a majority in Universal Processing Services v. Circuit Court of Milwaukee County.  Shortly thereafter, a Wisconsin attorney noticed a query on a practice-group listserv that asked whether this unusual majority had ever coalesced before in a 4-3 decision.  She forwarded the question to SCOWstats, and I am grateful for the opportunity to respond.[Continue Reading…]

Fantasy League Update

Decisions filed this past week brought the Citations to within shouting distance of the Affirmed and the Gavels at the top of the standings, thanks to 10 points from Godfrey & Kahn (brief, oral argument, and favorable decision in Ricardo M. Garza v. American Transmission Company) and one point from Cannon & Dunphy (amicus brief in Taft Parsons, Jr. v. Associated Banc-Corp).  Meanwhile, the Waivers tallied their first two points of the season with amicus briefs from Quarles & Brady (Ricardo M. Garza v. American Transmission Company) and Boardman & Clark (Taft Parsons, Jr. v. Associated Banc-Corp).

current standings