Saturday, January 13, 2018
Federal Circuit Court decisions are overwhelmingly unanimous:
The data on the pages below confirm that very few dissenting and concurring opinions accompany the decisions issued by the courts of appeals in the United States. Data has been collected for 12 of the 13 circuits—the First through the Eleventh Circuits, and the DC Circuit. No information was available for the Federal Circuit.
‘Unpublished’ decisions constituted nearly 90 percent of all dispositions by courts of appeals between 2011 and 2016. There were 151,771 unpublished decisions out of 172,680 total dispositions (87.89% of the total). I have assumed that dissents rarely, if ever, accompany unpublished decisions. Between 2011 and 2016, counting both ‘published’ and ‘unpublished’ decisions, the courts of appeals issued a total of 172,680 decisions on the merits.
Only 2,220 of these decisions (or 1.3% of the total) included a dissent. Between 2011 and 2016, the courts of appeals issued a total of 20,909 ‘published’ decisions. Only 2,220 of these decisions (10.6% of the total) included a dissent.
From Hon. Harry T. Edwards, Collegial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals (November 15, 2017). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-47. You can access the study here.