29 June 2004

Hmm. The much-maligned Ninth Circuit was not reversed as often as the average this past term (at least facially). According to SCOTUSBlog's helpful end-of-term chart in this posting, the Court reversed 76.9% of the matters that came before it, but only 76.0% of those from the Ninth Circuit. The Second, Fifth, Tenth, Eleventh, DC, and Federal Circuits had 100% reversal rates. Of course, this isn't exactly a statistically valid comparison; several sources had four or fewer opinions, including surprisingly enough both the Second and Seventh Circuits. In fact, the only statistically acceptable samples were the Ninth (barely) and the entire population.

What I think would be more interesting would be a "reversals and affirmances by effect" chart, which I just might try putting together in my copious spare time. This would include consideration not just of the matter for which certiorari was granted, but of other cases controlling below. For example, a circuit split between the Ninth and the Fifth that affirms the Ninth should also be counted as a reversal of the Fifth—because otherwise, what we're really seeing is greater scrutiny for circuits that are slower to produce results (whether internally or due to delays in trial courts) being improperly reflected in statistical snapshots.