Friday, December 15, 2006

The shrinking/growing docket

A couple weeks ago, much was made of Tom Goldstein's post about the declining Supreme Court docket. The Court, he noted, is just taking fewer cases.

The Court returned from its summer recess in something of a docket crunch, and its pace of granting cases slowed considerably from there. By this point last Term, the Court had granted 26 cases (10 from the “Long Conference,” plus 16 more in the first 6 Conferences of the Term). But this Term, the number is only 18 (9 from the long conference, but only a total of 9 in the six succeeding Conferences).

Then this morning I found this item at (perhaps the best site on the net for search and siezure).
On July 7th, I said that the number of U.S. District Court cases on Lexis would hit 90,000 this year. It reached that number today. 2005's total was 45,000; 2004's was 24,000.

This does not seem to compute. The lower courts, particularly at the trial level, do not generally publish opinions unless the case is likely to result in some precedent at higher levels. However, the Court at the highest level does not seem to be setting any precedent. Even the cases the Court has decided lately are practically useless as precedent- Musladin comes particularly to mind (my prior coverage here).

It almost makes you wonder if the lower courts are trying to provoke some reactions.