How many cases does the Tennessee Supreme Court hear per year?
Here is the data for the fiscal year ending June 20, 2009, the last year available as of the date of this writing.
First, the Tennessee Supreme Court has to decide only certain types of cases. It was asked to hear about 825 cases during the fiscal year. It decided to hear about 56 cases. Trying to decide what cases should be reviewed takes a lot of work. Each judge must review the written papers filed in support of the request for hearing (and the papers of the opponent which argue that the case should not be heard) to decide whether the case should advance to the Court. At least 2 of the 5 judges must agree that the case should be heard.
Then, more papers are filed, oral argument on the cases selected is heard, and the case is decided. Each case results in a written opinion. Some of those opinions are 10 papers long and some are many more. The court issued about 58 opinions in that fiscal year. In some cases more than one opinion was issued. Concurring opinions are issued when one or more judges agree with the result of the majority opinion but have a different take on one or more issues in the case. Dissenting opinions are issued when a judge disagrees with the result on one or more issues in the case.
In addition, the Court participated in 121 worker’s compensation case appeals during that 2008-09 fiscal year and 3 cases in which the death penalty was imposed.
The Court also was asked to consider, and agreed to consider, 4 questions of Tennessee law certified to them by federal judges.
Casework represents about 50% of the work of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The judges also have extensive administrative duties.