In Austin, August arrives with a weather forecast of 100-degree days. It leaves with the flurry of opinions the Texas Supreme Court traditionally issues right before the end of the month.
The official Texas court statistics run from September to September, so the end of August marks the last chance to get an opinion off the books before it rolls over.
Last September, I created some charts with Texas Supreme Court opinion statistics that lets you click through to see exactly which opinions caused a particular Justice to pen a dissent, concurrence, or majority.
Since then, I’ve added data for the current year, as well as a few previous years. The 2010 opinion statistics are up-to-date and ready for the last set of opinions. (( If you still see a column of question marks, that represents the per curiam opinions. We are never told precisely which Justice wrote each one, but the official statistics include the total number of per curiams each Justice wrote. Once the Office of Court Administration releases those totals, I add them to my chart. ))
It’s true that counting up each Justice’s opinions is a rather poor measure of their contribution to the work of the Court (as the Chief Justice has noted at recent conferences). As outsiders, we don’t see the collaborative work that Justices do helping each other.
But the opinion breakdown remains one of the most popular sets of court statistics.
As you’re starting up your office pool about which Justices will distinguish themselves in different categories, I would echo David Letterman’s admonition: “Remember, this is not a competition, it is only an exhibition — please, no wagering.”