We report after each month on interesting statistics from the data we generate from the daily opinion summaries from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and at the end of a year we will aggregate that–all of which provides useful insights into the inner workings of the Court, the relative success of various appeals, and more.
The November 2020 statistics are based on 124 total opinions released by the Court.
Where the appeals are coming from
- The most appellate decisions came from the Western District of Texas, with 28 decisions from the 5th Circuit on cases originating there.
- The Middle District of Louisiana, Southern District of Mississippi, and Eastern District of Texas had the best affirmance rate in the 5th Circuit in November, each with 100% affirmances.
- From decisions out of the Western District of Texas, there were 21 affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 partial affirmance/partial reversal/vacatur; 2 full reversals; 3 full vacaturs; and 1 denial of a motion to intervene.
- From the Southern District of Texas, there were 18 affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 full reversal; and 1 full vacatur.
- From the Eastern District of Texas, there were 3 affirmances/appeal dismissals.
- From the Northern District of Texas, there were 23 affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 partial affirmance/partial reversal/vacatur; 2 full reversals; and 1 denial of an injunction pending appeal.
- From the Eastern District of Louisiana, there were 9 affirmances/appeal dismissals; 2 partial affirmances/partial reversals/vacaturs; 1 full vacatur; and 1 opinion on the grant of a panel rehearing.
- From the Middle District of Louisiana, there were 2 affirmances/appeal dismissals.
- From the Western District of Louisiana, there were 8 affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 full reversal; and 1 opinion on a grant of panel rehearing.
- From the Northern District of Mississippi, there was 1 affirmance/appeal dismissal; 1 full reversal; and 1 published en banc denial.
- From the Southern District of Mississippi, there were 6 affirmances/appeal dismissals.
What the appeals are about
- The largest number of appeals are of criminal conviction and/or sentencing issues. 46 resulted in full affirmances/appeal dismissals; 2 were partial affirmances/partial reversal/vacaturs; and 2 were full vacaturs.
- In post-conviction relief cases, including state and federal habeas and compassionate release petitions, there were 6 full affirmances/appeal dismissals/COA denials; and 1 full reversal.
- In immigration cases, there were 9 dismissals of petitions for review of Board of Immigration Appeals orders, 2 grants of petitions for review of BIA orders, and 1 opinion on a grant of panel rehearing.
- In prisoner suits, there were 8 full affirmances/appeal dismissals.
- In commercial – civil cases, there were 8 full affirmances/appeal dismissals; 2 full reversals; 2 full vacaturs; and 1 opinion affirming an FAA decision.
- In civil rights/constitutional claims (non-prisoner-suits), there were 3 full affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 partial affirmance/partial reversal/vacatur; and 2 full reversals.
- In employment/labor law cases, there were 12 full affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 partial affirmance/partial reversal/vacatur; and 1 reversal of a Department of Labor Administrative Review Board decision.
- In voting rights/election law cases, there was 1 full reversal; 1 denial of an injunction/stay pending appeal; and 1 denial of a motion to intervene.
- In personal injury/non-commercial tort cases, there were 5 full affirmances/appeal dismissals; and 1 en banc rehearing order (for a Jones Act/seaman case).
- In arbitration decisions, there was 1 full affirmance.
- In abortion law cases, there was 1 full vacatur; which was also the 1 en banc decision.
- In bankruptcy, there was 1 full reversal.
How much law is being made?
- Of the 124 opinions released by the 5th Circuit in November 2020, 28 were designated for publication. 16 of those were full affirmances; 3 were partial affirmances/partial reversal/vacaturs; 3 were full reversals; 2 were full vacaturs; 1 was a denial of en banc rehearing; 1 was an en banc opinion; 2 were opinions on grants of panel rehearing; 1 was a denial of a petition to review a BIA order; and 1 was a denial of a motion to intervene.
- 96 of the November opinions were unpublished, including 75 full affirmances/appeal dismissals; 1 partial affirmance/partial reversal/vacatur; 4 full reversals; 3 full vacaturs; 1 denial of an injunction or stay pending appeal; 1 opinion on a grant of panel rehearing; 8 denials of petitions to review BIA orders; 2 grants of a petition to review BIA orders; 1 reversal of an agency decision; and 1 affirmance of an agency decision.
Who was doing what on the Court?
Who was the busiest, in that they were on the most panels issuing opinions in November? (Judge Ho.) Who was the busiest writer, authoring the most opinions? (Judge Higginson.) How many opinions did the Court issue per curiam, with no author listed? (98.) Who made the most law, authoring the most published opinions or participating in the most panels with published opinions? (Judge Higginson.) We have all that below (senior-status judges in italics):
|Judge||Panels||En Banc||Denying en banc rehearing||Single-judge order||On majority||Authored|
|published op.||unpublished op.|
Conclusions? Most decision, as always, are unanimous, with only 8 dissenting opinions in November and 4 concurrences. By far the most decisions are per curiam, at 98, against 26 authored opinions. The Fifth Circuit continues to have a very active senior-status bench, with Judges Clement and Higginbotham participating in an equivalent number of panels to some of the active-status judges. Meanwhile, among active-status judges, the lightest productions in November were from Chief Judge Owen (though she has the administrative duties of Chief) and Judge Oldham.