Law Firm Fantasy League

No decisions were filed this week–hence, no change in the standings.

Women on State Supreme Courts: 2015 and 2022

As March is Women’s History Month, it seems an appropriate time to explore certain topics regarding female justices on America’s state supreme courts.  We’ll begin with information from the National Center for State Courts, which describes the landscape in the spring/summer of 2015, and then compare these findings with impressions derived from scrutiny of the courts in all 50 states seven years later.[1]  See whether you are more struck by the similarities or the differences between the snapshots from these two points in time.

Spring/Summer of 2015
According to the 2015 data, 36% of state supreme court justices were women—122 of 335—and women accounted for a slightly larger share, 40%, of the 52 chief justices
.[2]  (Oklahoma and Texas each have two courts of last resort, one for criminal and one for civil cases.  Hence the total of 52 chief justices.)

As one might expect, women were not distributed evenly among the 52 courts.  Washington State had six female justices in 2015, for instance, and Maryland nearly matched that total with five—while neither Idaho nor Iowa had any.  Table 1 displays the state supreme courts with at least three female justices, and Table 2 lists the states whose courts had no more than one.

When determining which courts have the most female justices, it’s worth bearing in mind that the number of members on a court varies from state to state.  A few courts seat nine justices; others seven; and some five.  And, of course, a handful of spots will always be vacant at any given moment.  Consequently, the presence of female justices might better be measured by calculating their percentage of a court’s roster, which will reveal the states where they represent the majority.  Washington State still ranked high in 2015, as shown in Table 3, but because its court has nine members, its percentage of female justices slipped below that of Tennessee and Maryland.[3]

March of 2022
Now let’s compare the figures from 2015 with analogous information compiled seven years later.  The percentage of female justices has increased—to 41% (138/340), up from 36% in 2015—but women’s share of chief justices dropped precipitously, from 40% in 2015 to 29% in 2022
.

Washington State remained atop the list of courts with the largest number of female justices in 2022—presented below in Table 4—but none of the next six states in this table placed in the first six back in 2015 (Table 1).

Turning to the courts with the lowest numbers, we find that in both 2015 (Table 2) and 2022 (Table 5, below), there were 11 states with no more than one female justice.  However, scarcely any of the states in Table 2 match those in Table 5—as only Indiana and Mississippi appear in both.

Finally, let’s have a look in Table 6 at those states where women formed a majority of a court’s justices in 2022.  Here, we have a 44% increase over 2015, when only nine states made the list.  Moreover, the current total of 13 states may soon move to 14, when California fills a vacancy for which Governor Gavin Newsom has nominated a woman.

 

[1] The NCSC data is said to have been updated last in February 2016.  However, when I spot-checked the justices listed for the Wisconsin and Minnesota Supreme Courts, the lineups matched those of the justices on these two courts in the spring/summer of 2015 (and not during the 2015-16 term).

[2] I have omitted the District of Columbia.  Also, six of 341 seats were temporarily vacant, leaving the total of 335 justices noted here.

[3] At the time, Tennessee had a vacancy along with four justices, and Maryland had seven justices.

Law Firm Fantasy League

This week’s sole decision (State v. Daniel J. Van Linn) provided five points to the Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office for a brief and oral argument.  This moved the Gavels one point ahead of the Writs into third place.

Click here for the complete, updated standings.

Law Firm Fantasy League

No decisions were filed this week–hence, no change in the standings.

Law Firm Fantasy League

From this week’s sole decision (Cree, Inc. v. LIRC), the Waivers picked up 10 points from Quarles & Brady’s brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome, while the Writs gained a point from Legal Action of Wisconsin’s amicus brief.  As a result, the Waivers and Writs strengthened their grips on first and second place respectively.

Click here for the complete, updated standings.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Statistics, 1950-51

These tables are derived from information contained in 198 Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions that were turned up in a Nexis Uni search for decisions filed between September 1, 1950, and August 31, 1951.  The total of 198 decisions does not include various orders pertaining to disciplinary matters involving lawyers, nor to petitions, motions, applications, and the like (generally disposed of without oral argument and in short per curiam decisions). 

Also excluded is Lake Geneva v. Walworth County, which yielded a 3-3 split. 

After deciding In re Robbins’ Estate, the justices granted a motion for rehearing and revoked their previous mandate.  I have counted this case only once, though one could argue that it should be counted twice. 

The tables are available as a complete set and by individual topic in the subsets listed below.

Four-to-Three Decisions
Decisions Arranged by Vote Split
Frequency of Justices in the Majority
Distribution of Opinion Authorship
Frequency of Agreement Between Pairs of Justices
Average Time Between Oral Argument and Opinions Authored by Each Justice

Law Firm Fantasy League

This week’s decisions furnished an unusually large number of points, primarily because so many firms participated in Billie Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission.  When the dust settled, the Waivers and the Writs remained in their positions at the top of the standings, while the Affirmed slipped past the idle Gavels into third place.  As detailed below, Stafford Rosenbaum led all scorers with 15 points, and three other firms—Pines Bach, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, and von Briesen & Roper—each contributed ten.

The Writs, 21 points.
Pines Bach, 10 points for a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in Billie Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Brown County v. Brown County Taxpayers Association
and 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Billie Johnson.
Michael Best & Friedrich, 1 point for an amicus brief in Brown County.

The Waivers, 21 points.
von Briesen & Roper, 10 points for a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in Brown County.
Troutman Pepper, 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Billie Johnson.
Boardman & Clark, 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Billie Johnson.
Hawks Quindel, 1 point for an amicus brief in Billie Johnson.

The Affirmed, 15 points.
Stafford Rosenbaum, 10 points for a brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in Billie Johnson
and 5 points for a brief and oral argument in Loren Imhoff Homebuilder, Inc. v. Lisa Taylor and Luis Cuevas.

Law Firm Fantasy League

The sole decision filed this week brought no points to any of the league’s teams–hence, no change in the standings.

Original Actions and Judicial Activism: An Update for 2020-21

A post at the end of the 2019-20 term noted the soaring number of original-action petitions accepted by the court and suggested that this could be regarded as a measure of judicial activism.  Today we’ll revisit the topic to see how data for 2020-21 compare to that of previous terms—and explore the possible impact on these figures produced by changes in the court’s membership.[Continue Reading…]

Law Firm Fantasy League

Every team except the Affirmed gained points from this week’s pair of decisions, with the Waivers leading the way.  Going into the week only one point ahead of the Writs at the top of the standings, they stretched their lead with 10 points from Boardman & Clark’s brief, oral argument, and favorable outcome in Elliot Brey v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.  The Writs managed a point from Godfrey & Kahn for an amicus brief in Brey v. State Farm, but this left them only three points clear of the third-place Gavels of the State Public Defender’s Office who collected five points for a brief and oral argument in State v. Christopher W. Yakich.   

Click here for the complete, updated standings.