Last week, we looked at the Justices’ majority opinions in civil and death penalty appeals between 2000 and 2007. Today, we turn our attention to majority opinions in criminal cases. Because death penalty majorities are nearly always considerably longer than non-death cases, we limit this part of our analysis to criminal cases not involving the death penalty to avoid biasing our results.
For the entire period, Justice Chin led the Court, writing 68 majority opinions in non-death criminal cases. Justice Baxter was next with 59 majorities, followed by Chief Justice George with 56, Justice Kennard with 43, Justice Brown with 42, Justice Werdegar with 29, Justice Moreno with 20, Justice Corrigan with 9 and Justice Mosk with 5 criminal majority opinions.
Justice Chin led in 2000 with eight criminal majority opinions. Justice Brown wrote seven, Justice Werdegar wrote six and Chief Justice George and Justices Kennard and Baxter wrote five each. For 2001, Chief Justice George led with nine majority opinions. Justices Kennard and Chin had eight, Justice Baxter wrote seven and Justice Brown wrote five. For 2002, Justice Chin once again led with 14 majority opinions. Chief Justice George and Justice Baxter wrote 11 apiece and Justice Brown wrote 10. For 2003, Justice Baxter led with ten majorities. Chief Justice George and Justices Brown and Baxter wrote eight apiece, Justice Moreno wrote three and Justices Kennard and Werdegar wrote two each. For 2004, Justice Kennard led with 12 majority opinions. Chief Justice George and Justice Chin wrote eight each, Justices Baxter and Moreno wrote seven each, and Justice Brown wrote six. For 2005, Justice Chin led with seven majority opinions. Justice Brown wrote six, and Justices Kennard, Werdegar and Baxter wrote five each. For 2006, Justice Chin once again led with seven majority opinions. Chief Justice George and Justices Kennard and Baxter were next with six majorities apiece. Justice Werdegar wrote four, Justice Moreno wrote three and Justice Corrigan wrote two. Finally, in 2007, Justices Chin and Baxter led, writing eight non-death criminal majorities each. Justice Corrigan wrote seven, Justice Werdegar wrote six and Chief Justice George wrote five.
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For 2000, Chief Justice George wrote the longest average criminal majority opinions at 21.8 pages. Justice Mosk was next at 21.33 pages, followed by Justice Werdegar at 21 pages. Justices Kennard and Brown wrote the shortest average majorities – 15.2 and 11.71 pages. For 2001, Justice Baxter led at 25 pages per majority opinion. Chief Justice George averaged 23.11 pages. Justice Werdegar averaged 18.75 pages, Justice Mosk averaged 16 pages, and Justice Chin averaged 15.75 pages. Once again, Justices Brown and Kennard averaged the shortest opinions at 13.4 and 12.5 pages. For 2002, Chief Justice George led, with an average majority of 34.09 pages. Justice Moreno was next at 28 pages, followed by Justice Baxter at 27.82 pages and Justice Chin at 18.43 pages. Justices Kennard and Werdegar averaged the shortest opinions at 15.33 and 10 pages.
For 2003, Justice Moreno led with an average majority opinion of 32.67 pages. The Chief Justice and Justices Baxter and Chin were next at 24.75, 21.4 and 21.25 pages. Justices Brown and Kennard wrote the shortest opinions at 13.63 and 12 pages, respectively. For 2004, Justice Werdegar and Chief Justice George led, averaging 34 and 32.63 pages. Justice Baxter averaged 25.86 and Justice Moreno averaged 20.29 pages. Justices Brown and Kennard once again wrote the shortest opinions, averaging 13.67 and 13.08 pages. For 2005, Chief Justice George led, averaging 29 pages per majority opinion. Justice Baxter was next at 24 pages, followed by Justice Werdegar at 22.6. The shortest average opinions were by Justices Chin, Brown and Kennard – 16.43, 16 and 14.2 pages, respectively. For 2006, Justice Werdegar led at 27.25 pages. Chief Justice George averaged 24.33 pages, Justice Baxter averaged 23.33 and Justice Moreno averaged 22.67 pages. Justice Chin averaged the shortest criminal majority opinions at 12.57 pages. Finally, in 2007, Justice Werdegar and Chief Justice George led at 25.83 pages and 24.2 pages. The shortest majority opinions were by Justice Chin at 17.63 pages and Justice Corrigan at 13 pages.
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Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s majority opinions in civil cases between 2008 and 2015.