top of the class (almost)


The Jan/Feb 2010 copy of the ABA's Landslide magazine has an interesting article by Roy E. Hofer called "Supreme Court Reversal rates:  Evaluating the Federal Court of Appeals."  He goes through the statistics for the last ten years to see which court has the highest reversal rate. 

The theme of his article is that while everyone thought the Ninth Circuit was the "rogue court," it's really the Federal Circuit – it has the highest reversal rate at 83.3%.  The Ninth Circuit is second highest, with 80.0%  The lowest reversal rate?  The Seventh Circuit at 55.3%.  The median reversal rate is 68.29%.

And how about our First Circuit?  Second lowest at 55.6% ("we're #2, we're #2").

He also includes statistics about the volume of appeals heard.  By far CTA9 had the most – 114,199 cases disposed of in that ten-year period.  The lowest volume?  The DC Circuit, followed by the Federal Circuit, followed by us (13,215, 15,781 and 16,620, respectively.)

Do these statistics mean anything?  Given the small number of cases that the Supreme Court takes, it's difficult to say.   In that ten-year period, for example, there were only 18 cases heard by the Supreme Court from CTA1 (8 reversed, 8 affirmed and 2 vacated).