Last week, we did some number crunching for the Supreme Court’s 2022-2023 term (from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023), discussing things other than the court’s opinions. Today, we talk about the opinions.
Also, the court yesterday published its own annual review of the term. See Merrill Balassone’s news release. The review includes lots of numbers, but also discusses the new chief justice and associate justice, the resumption of in-person arguments, bringing the court to the community, strengthening State Bar protections, and four high-profile cases (all civil).
Now for our opinion numbers.
The court decided 55 cases by opinion during the term. In only four of those cases was there a dissent. There was a single 7-0 opinion in 47 cases. In three cases, all seven justices signed the court’s opinion, but one or two justices separately concurred. One case was decided by a five-justice majority with a two-justice concurring opinion. Of the four cases with a dissent, three were 5-2 decisions and only one was a 4-3 split.
There were five death penalty appeals, all decided by 7-0 opinions. Of the 27 non-capital criminal case opinions (in which we include habeas corpus and Sexually Violent Predator Act matters), 20 were 7-0, three had seven justices signing the court’s opinion and one or two justices separately concurring, three were decided by 5-2 votes, and one was a 4-3 decision. The court issued opinions in 23 civil cases, and all were 7-0 except for one that had a five-justice majority and a separate two-justice concurring opinion.
Here are individual justice statistics:
- Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who left the court four months into the term: she authored four opinions for the court. Three were 7-0 decisions, two in death penalty appeals and one in a non-capital criminal case. The other opinion was a 5-2 non-capital criminal decision. She did not author or sign any separate opinions.
- Associate Justice and Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero: she authored nine opinions for the court, four in criminal cases (three by 7-0 votes and one with seven votes and two justices separately concurring) and five in civil cases (four by 7-0 votes and one with five votes and two justices separately concurring). She did not author or sign any separate opinions.
- Justice Carol Corrigan: she authored nine opinions for the court, one unanimous death penalty decision, six in other criminal cases (three 7-0 decisions, one 4-3 decision, and two 5-2 decisions), and two in civil cases (both 7-0 decisions). She did not author or sign any separate opinions.
- Justice Goodwin Liu: he authored 10 opinions for the court, two unanimous death penalty decisions, five in other criminal cases (all 7-0 decisions), and three in civil cases (all 7-0 decisions). He also filed five separate opinions, two dissents (in criminal cases) and three concurrences (two in criminal cases and one in a civil case). He signed two dissenting opinions written by other justices.
- Justice Leondra Kruger: she authored eight opinions for the court, four in criminal cases (three 7-0 decisions and one seven-justice opinion with a separate concurrence) and four in
criminalcivil cases (all 7-0 decisions). She also wrote one dissent and one separate concurrence, both in criminal cases.
- Justice Joshua Groban: he authored seven opinions for the court, four in criminal cases (three 7-0 decisions and one seven-justice opinion with a two-justice separate concurrence) and three in civil cases (all 7-0 decisions). He wrote two dissents and one separate concurrence, all in criminal cases. He signed one separate concurrence in a criminal case in which he also signed the court’s seven-justice opinion.
- Justice Martin Jenkins: he authored six 7-0 opinions for the court, two in criminal cases and four in civil cases. He did not author or sign any separate opinions.
- Justice Kelli Evans, who joined the court four months into the term: she authored two 7-0 opinions for the court, both in civil cases. She also wrote one dissent in a criminal case. She signed one dissent (in a criminal case) and two separate concurrences (one in a civil case and one in a criminal case in which she also signed the court’s seven-justice opinion).
Malcolm Maclachlan writes for the Daily Journal about the court’s year in review report in “Summer spate might mean faster Supreme Court rulings.” (I’m quoted in the article.)