Each year, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals releases detailed statistics about its caseload from the last year. The data offer an interesting insight into the work of that court.
The recently released 2013 Annual Report shows that the court continues to face a sizeable caseload. A total of 2758 cases were filed in 2013. A total of 2962 cases were terminated, which works out to 185 terminations per judge. The average time for the court to reach a decision was 256 days, measured from the filing of the notice of appeal. Three-judge opinions take a little longer, 366 days; one-judge opinions run a little shorter, 191 days. Opinions were issued in 1066 of the case terminations (67 per judge), split fairly equally between per curiam opinions (544) and signed opinions (522). For civil cases, 88% of cases were affirmed, with affirmance rates ranging from District II at 93% to District III at 78%. (These numbers exclude certain dismissals, cases reversed in part, etc.)
Though publication was rare (14% of cases decided by opinion were published) and oral argument even rarer (less than 1% of cases submitted were argued), civil cases were the majority of both published decisions and arguments. Of 141 total cases published, 98 were civil cases, as were 9 of the 11 oral arguments.
How do these numbers compare to past years?
2012 saw 2689 cases filed, 1081 opinions issued, an 86% civil affirmance rate, 13% of opinions published (127 total, 86 civil), and oral argument in 11 cases (10 civil). The average number of days to an opinion: 264. In other words, not much has changed in a year.
In contrast, 2003 saw 3453 cases filed, 1213 opinions issued, a 77% civil affirmance rate, 23% of opinions published (247 total, but no civil/criminal breakdown), and oral argument in 48 cases (40 civil). The average time to an opinion was shorter, however, at 212 days.
Circuit court annual statistics are also available. The Wisconsin Supreme Court usually releases its annual statistics in September.