STATISTICS ON TEXAS SUPREME COURT OPINION PRODUCTION: ANNUAL OUTPUT IS COMPARABLE TO THAT OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Intermediate courts of appeals issue much larger number of opinions per member.
Over the course of the fiscal year that ended August 31, 2007, the TEXAS SUPREME COURT released 170 opinions, approximately 15% more compared to the year before. 40.6% of the FY 2007 opinions were unsigned per curiam opinions. 36.5% were majority opinions, 11.2% were dissenting opinions and 6.5% were concurring opinions. The average time from filing to disposition was 195 days. [The Texas Supreme Court does no report productivity statistics for calendar years. Only fiscal year data is available from the Office of Court Administration.]
For the COURTS OF APPEALS the number of opinions issued varied from 352 for the Eastland Court of Appeal (with three members) to 1,567 for Dallas (the largest appellate court with 13 members). The First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, both of which have 9 members like the Supreme Court, but unlike the high court sit in panels of three, handed down 1,234 and 1,194 opinions, respectively, in the same time period. The Court of Criminal Appeals issued 575 opinions in Fiscal Year 2007.
THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT'S REVERSAL RATE: VERY HIGH
NO EVEN DISTRIBUTION HERE: In 73% of the granted-PFR cases decided in FY 2007, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the lower court. The seven affirmances accounted for only 6.3%. Thus, the odds of reversal are high, once the Court has agreed to grant a petition, and decide the issue(s) in the case on the merits. Opinions on denial of petition for review (PFR) are rare, but not unheard of.
The opposite pattern is found in the case dispositions of the intermediate Courts of Appeals. In 41.7% of these appeals, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed. The reversal rate of the intermediate appellate courts was only 6.3%. Dismissals accounted for a large share of case dispositions in the fourteen courts of appeals.
DECIDING WHETHER TO DECIDE: It should be noted that the reversal rate of the Supreme Court and the reversal rates of the intermediate courts of appeals are not directly comparable. This is because (1) the courts of appeals - unlike the Supreme Court - do not have discretionary review powers and thus much lesser ability to control their docket, and (2) they hear both civil and criminal appeals. The Supreme Court, by contrast, decides on the merits and issues opinions in only those cases it chooses to hear. Its caseload is limited to appeals in civil matters, which includes juvenile cases. Criminal appeals go from the courts of appeals to the COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS, or directly to the latter. Source: Annual Report of the Texas Judiciary