This seems as good a day as any to talk about the Justices’ output last Term.
We know how many signed opinions each Justice wrote as soon as they’re published. But the per curiam opinions are a mystery. It’s not until the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) releases its year-end report that we get a count of how many were credited to each Justice.
Now that OCA has released its report, I’ve updated my chart of opinion authors, which shows:
- Justice Hecht led the way with 27 deciding opinions — 15 signed and 12 per curiams.
Justice Johnson (19 deciding opinions) and Justice Wainwright (16 deciding opinions) also exceeded the Court’s average of slightly more than 12 per Justice. (Justice Medina and Chief Justice Jefferson were very close to that mark.)
The most frequent author of concurring opinions was Justice Willett with 7, almost half the Court’s output of 16 concurrences. Chief Justice Jefferson was a strong second with 4 concurrences.
The most frequent author of dissenting opinions was Justice Johnson with 6, closely followed by Justice Lehrmann with 5. Justice Wainwright also had 5, if you fold in opinions that were both “concurring and dissenting.” Every Justice authored at least one true dissenting opinion.
No Justice wrote more per curiams than signed majority opinions. Only Justice Hecht authored more per curiams than separate (concurring or dissenting) opinions. The focus was very much on clearing out the signed opinions from the Court’s docket.
These OCA statistics focus on opinion authorship — the traditional (albeit imperfect) measure of output for appellate judges.
We might soon have some new measures, thanks to recent legislative demands for details about how individual Justices have been meeting the Court’s internal deadlines. And as it turns out, those reports are due on December 1st of each year. (( You can find the language on page 3 of this very large PDF, part of the appropriations bill in 2009. ))