THIRD-QUARTER DAVID/GOLIATH INDEX
(Posted September 30, 2018) Earlier this year, I promised you quarterly reports on who’s winning the published-opinion battles in the Supreme Court of Virginia. David – the little guy, including criminal appellants, tort plaintiffs, employees seeking Workers’ Comp benefits or wrongful-discharge damages – suffered a dreadful rate of losses to Goliath in 2016 and 2017. I decided to keep up with the figures to see if this increasingly clear trend would continue.
I last reported to you on this in late June, noting that David was winning 32% for the year – not very good, but far better than the 82% loss rate the previous two years. We now have another quarter in the books, and David is once again taking a pounding. In the third quarter, David won once and Goliath eight times, for a D/GI of 11/89. For the year, the index is now 26/74 – the big guy is winning three of every four published opinions.
I’ve noticed one other thing: The Supreme Court has handed down only 50 published opinions/orders since the calendar turned to 2018. At that rate, we’re likely to see fewer than 70 published rulings in a full year. For comparison, last year there were 78. If you go back another ten years, to 2007, there were 130. The last time the court handed down 70 or fewer published rulings in a year was – well, I have no bloody idea, because the statistics I have only go back to 1965, and there’s nothing even close to this rate in that time. I’ll explore this phenomenon more fully in a future essay.