Brother Emmert has an essay with some updated appellate statistics. I’ll let him do the talking:
Thus far in 2020, The Robes have given us 41 published opinions and seven published orders. We’ve also seen 25 unpublished orders – rulings that adjudicate the appeal but don’t appear in Virginia Reports and don’t carry precedential weight. That means there are 73 total dispositions on the merits so far.
Let’s take a look backward to see how this pace compares with historical figures. Ten years ago, in 2010, there were 117 opinions and 59 orders, for a total of 176. Another ten years back and it’s 159 opinions and 84 orders, so we’re up to 243 merits rulings.
I won’t keep boring you with numerals; I’ll get to the bottom line. I have statistics on the court going back to 1965, and what we’re seeing in the past few years are historically low numbers of merits rulings. The court set a new low record, going back as far as I know, in 2018 with just 116 such rulings. That dropped to 112 last year. This year, unless something extremely dramatic happens, we won’t hit triple digits.
The final point I’ll mention here is that these 2020 stats don’t reflect pandemic decreases. As I noted in a recent post, all of the appeals that the court has ruled on this year reflect final lower-court decisions that came down before March 2020. That means that next year, with the possibility of a sharp drop in new filings due to the pandemic’s effect on circuit courts, this year’s unfortunate record won’t survive twelve months before the 2021 total undercuts it.
Plenty of other good stuff on Steve’s website too, as usual.