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What’s Happening in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin?

Petitions for Review.  SCOW plans to hold a petitions conference on Monday–a good thing since as of September 30th there were a whopping 331 petitions for review pending.  One was filed as far back as 2009 (2009AP1955), 10 were filed in consolidated cases back in 2010 (2009AP2266 et al.) and 8 were filed in 2012.  The rest landed in the clerk’s office during 2013.  Of those 331 petitions for review, 182 are classified as civil cases and 149 as criminal.  Note though that “civil” cases include petitions for a writ of habeas corpus,  Wis. Stat. § 974.06 motions, and similar filings by pro se by prisoners.  So it is probably fair to say that most of the pending petitions involve criminal law-related issues.

On Point will post Monday’s petition-for-review grants involving indigent defense issues as soon as they are available–hopefully early next week.

SCOWstats.  Sure, SCOW publishes monthly and annual statistical reports about Wisconsin’s courts. Click here But they don’t drill down to the stats for each justice or firm.  Lucky for you, SCOWstats does.  To see justice by numbers for the 2012-13 term, visit On Point’s SCOWStats page.  You’ll find some interesting factoids:

  • Remember last spring’s debate about whether SCOW’s productivity had declined?  The Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFact page declared the idea nonsense because the SCOW had been deciding 60 some cases for years. Well, the 2012-13 stats are in, and it looks like SCOW decided a mere 44 civil and criminal cases combined (or 46, depending on how you count).  Of those, 8 were 4-3 decisions.
  • The justices most likely to agree were Ziegler and Gableman (95% of the time).  The justices least likely to agree were Ziegler and Abrahamson (54%).
  • Who authored the most majority opinions last term?  There was a 3-way tie between Justices Bradley, Crooks and Prosser.  But who was the most prolific opinion writer?  No justice came close to C.J. Abrahamson who wrote 23 majority, concurring and dissenting opinions combined.  Justices Ziegler and Prosser tied for a distant second with 16 such opinions.  Justice Crooks came in last with 11.
  • Volume is one measure.  Speed is another.  Justices Crooks and Bradley certainly got their majority opinions out promptly.  Between oral argument and the date of filing the opinion, it took them an average of 120 and 127 days respectively.  On the slow end, it took Justice Roggensack an average of 190 days to file her opinions.  Remember, however, if a majority opinion draws a dissent or concurrence, the lag time could be longer through no fault of the majority opinion’s author.  Plus, a campaign might slow things down a bit.

Looking for historical statistics on your favorite justice(s)?  You’ll find them going back through the 2004-05 term on SCOWstats.com.

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