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Friday, May 10, 2013

Ind. Courts - Highlights of the Court of Appeals’ 2012 Report

Commentary by Joel Schumm, professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law

The Indiana Court of Appeals’ annual report for 2012 is available online.

The number of majority opinions has steadily declined more than 20% over the past five years as shown in the table.

Indiana Court of Appeals Majority Opinions, 2008 - 2012*
Year Criminal/PCR Civil Expedited/Other Total
2012 1271 594 278 2143
2011 1408 654 335 2397
2010 1411 610 583 2375
2009 1613 583 373 2569
2008 1700 716 323 2739

The decline has been across all categories of cases but particularly steep in criminal cases. Moreover, the number of majority opinions written by each judge who served the full year was fairly consistent in the range of 125 to 146. Judge Crone authored more opinions than any of his colleagues with 156. Judge John Baker authored 137 majority opinions in 2012, which is quite a change from 2008 when he wrote 242 and 2007 when he authored a whopping 313.

The court of appeals’ judges overwhelmingly issue unanimous opinions. Judge Najam wrote no concurring opinions and only one dissenting opinion, while on the high end of the spectrum Judge Riley and Judge Baker issued twelve and thirteen dissenting opinions, respectively.

The number of oral argument has been roughly the same over the five-year period with 78 in 2012; 88 in 2011; 105 in 2010; 74 in 2009; and 78 in 2008.

The percentage of cases issued as published decisions has consistently been in the low to mid-20s with the 27% rate (excluding senior judges) in 2012 as the high mark. The rate at which individual judges issue published decisions varies considerably with Judges Friedlander and Kirsch under 17% and Judge Najam just over 30% in 2012. Senior Judge Shepard issued 50% of his 14 opinions for publication; as Chief Justice, of course, 100% of his opinions were published. Unfortunately, the court of appeals does not include statistics on rulings on motions to publish filed by parties after opinions are issued. The court's website lists opinions reclassified from not-for-publication to published, which suggests about thirty motions were granted in 2012 but sheds no light on how many motions were denied.

The court granted 45.8% of the 216 petitions for permissive interlocutory appeals filed in 2012. This is similar to the 2010 and 2011 rates but significantly higher than the 27% in 2008 and 2009.

Finally, the court granted 12% of the 258 petitions for rehearing filed last year.

*The Court of Appeals report runs January to December (remember all those December 31 opinions?), while the Indiana Supreme Court runs on a July to June fiscal year.

ILB Note: To aid readers interested in finding past commentaries for the ILB written by Prof. Schumm, the ILB has created a new category (see right column or the end of the entry,) "Schumm - Commentary". Currently it only lists 2013 commentary, but I intend to add past years to the list.

Finding Prof. Schumm's many ILB contributions relating to the filling of the Supreme Court vacancy in 2010 and the two vacancies in 2012 may be facilitated by scrolling through the established categories for Vacancy on the Supreme Ct. 2010, and Vacancy on the Supreme Ct. 2012(1) and Vacancy on the Supreme Ct.2012(2).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 10, 2013 09:00 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Courts | Schumm - Commentary