Early last year we took a look at how often Federal Circuit judges sit (see blog post). A lot has happened since then, including two new judges joining the court. Below is an updated chart showing data through the August 2022 sitting:
As a reminder, the chart above shows how many different panel days each judge heard argument across each calendar year (and the first eight months of 2022). We excluded panels convened to hear only one case. That can happen, for example, because of a rare argument on a motion or for plus panels, where one judge of a main panel is replaced for a single case (perhaps because of conflicts or when a case comes back on appeal after a remand).
As we noted last year, the data confirm what we often hear – the judges decide many cases a year. But the data also confirm something many regular Federal Circuit practitioners have probably noticed—the number of sittings seems to have dipped in the past year or so. For example, although our data already show the number of sittings for two-thirds of 2022, only Judge Reyna has even passed half the number of sittings this year that he sat last year. Although the data don’t show the reason for this dip, one explanation is that this is a delayed dip from pauses in litigation when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in 2020.
Looking at specific judges, Judge Prost again topped the list for most sittings in 2021, followed by Judge Taranto and then a tie between Chief Judge Moore and Judge Dyk. So far in 2022, Judge Reyna leads all judges. The raw numbers thus suggest you’re more likely to see one of these judges on argument morning.
The data also give some details about which senior judges you might find yourself in front of. Judge Clevenger continued to sit the most full panel days of any senior judge in 2021, although he’s been sitting with less frequency so far in 2022. This year, Judges Bryson, Schall, and Mayer have been the most likely senior judges to appear on an argument panel. Judge Plager has not yet sat this year. And Judge Wallach seems to be fully embracing his semi-retired status, having sat just once so far.
Check back soon for a follow-up post looking at monthly trends of when judges sit.