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Monday, November 04, 2013

Ind. Courts - A Few Thoughts on the Indiana Supreme Court’s Just-Released Annual Report

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

The Supreme Court’s 2012-13 annual report was released today in an online format with more graphics and numerous embedded links to external sources. I encourage everyone to take a look, and I commend Kathryn Dolan and those in the Office of Communication, Education and Outreach who worked on the impressive report.

Although the report earns high marks on style, I am a little disappointed with a couple of substantive differences from earlier years. First, gone is the narrative section categorizing and summarizing the Court’s opinions from the prior year. The summary ran from page 5 to 7 in last year’s report and offered a concise but very useful review of the Court’s important work. Some helpful transfer statistics appear to be gone as well. Although page 16 includes some of the numbers, I did not see a paragraph similar to this one from last year anywhere in this year’s report:

In fiscal year 2012, the Court disposed of 1,096 cases, 892 of which had first been appealed to the Court of Appeals. Of these 892 petitions to transfer, 345 (38.7%) were civil cases and the remaining 547 (61.3%) were criminal cases. The Court accepted jurisdiction and issued opinions in approximately 7.8% of all transfer cases (9.0% in civil cases and 7.1% in criminal cases). In the remaining 92.2%, the Supreme Court denied transfer, rendering the opinion of the Court of Appeals final.
This year’s report includes a list of majority and non-majority opinions for each justice, which appears to be a first. The list starts on page 22 but does not include a summary of the cases. Of the four justices who served the entire year, each wrote an average of fifteen majority opinions: Justice David (17), Chief Justice Dickson (16), Justice Massa (13), and Justice Rucker (12).

Finally, as previously discussed in this blog, the past year included an unusually high number of oral argument on whether to grant transfer—9 criminal cases and 5 civil/tax cases. The report does not include statistics on cases in which transfer was vacated after hearing oral argument.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 4, 2013 03:20 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts