Last week, we began analyzing the Justices’ individual records, tracking whether any Justices tended to write longer or shorter majority opinions than other Justices do. Today, we address the Court’s criminal opinions between 2005 and 2009.
In Table 390, we review the distribution of majority opinions between 2005 and 2009 in the criminal docket. Chief Justice McMorrow and Justices Freeman and Thomas led the Court in 2005, writing nine majority opinions each on the criminal side. Justices Garman, Kilbride, Karmeier and Fitzgerald each wrote seven majorities that year. For 2006, Justice Fitzgerald led the Court with ten majority opinions. Justice Kilbride wrote eight and Chief Justice Thomas and Justices Garman and Karmeier wrote seven apiece. In 2007, Justice Freeman led the Court, writing five majority opinions in criminal cases. Chief Justice Thomas and Justices Burke, Garman, Kilbride and Karmeier wrote four majority opinions each. The following year, Justices Burke, Garman, Karmeier and Fitzgerald each wrote eight majority opinions in criminal cases. Chief Justice Thomas and Justice Freeman wrote seven opinions. For 2009, the opinions were once again evenly distributed: Justice Freeman wrote eight majorities. Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justices Burke, Garman, Kilbride and Thomas wrote seven apiece.
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We report the average length of the Justices’ majority opinions in Table 391. Chief Justice McMorrow, who tended during this period to write somewhat longer civil opinions, was in the middle of the pack among criminal cases, averaging 18 pages in 2005 and only 14 in 2006. Justice Burke’s criminal majority opinions averaged ten pages in 2006, 21.25 in 2007, 15.38 in 2008 and 11.71 pages in 2009. Justice Garman was generally above the court-wide average in her opinions, averaging 16.86 pages in 2005, 22.71 pages in 2006, 26.25 pages in 2007 before falling to 17.75 pages in 2008 and 21.71 pages in 2009.
Justice Freeman’s criminal opinions were at or slightly below the court-wide average, at 14.22 pages in 2005, 15.83 pages in 2006, 19.6 pages in 2007, 18 pages in 2008 and 14.13 pages in 2009. Justice Thomas was around the court-wide average as well: 15.67 pages in 2005, 21.29 page in 2006, 16.25 pages in 2007, 13.57 pages in 2008 and 18.57 pages in 2009. Justice Kilbride was generally below the court-wide average on the criminal side, averaging 13.43 pages in 2005, 14.25 in 2006 and only 9.5 pages in 2007. His opinions increased to 17 pages in 2008, but were down to 12.71 pages in 2009. Justice Karmeier was one of the longer writers on the Court in criminal cases during these years, averaging 27 pages in 2005, 16.14 pages in 2006, 34 pages in 2007, 13.13 pages in 2008 and 25 pages in 2009. Finally, Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s criminal majority opinions were consistently around the court-wide average: 16.43 pages in 2005, 15.5 in 2007, 15.25 in 2008 and 19.43 in 2009. Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s opinions spiked in only one year, averaging 24.2 pages in 2006.
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Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn to the Court’s civil and criminal opinions between 2010 and 2015.