Friday, April 06, 2012, 9:52 AM

Greensboro News & Record Report on Supreme Court Output

Doug Clark, author of the Greensboro News and Record's Off the Record Blog, recently interviewed Chief Justice Sarah Parker of the North Carolina Supreme Court and others regarding the number of opinions produced by the Court.  Clark's piece seems to conclude that the Supreme Court is not publishing enough opinions.

Clark also published a piece on the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Goodyear Dunlop Tires v. Brown.  The North Carolina Supreme Court declined to review the case, but the United States Supreme Court heard the case and reversed the opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  In Clark's view the North Carolina Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case and the subsequent reversal by the United States Supreme Court "led to an embarrassment for the N.C. Supreme Court." 

The North Carolina Supreme Court's level of output has been a source of much debate in the last few years.  Clark's writings echo concerns raised in a white paper entitled The North Carolina Supreme Court in 2010: Is it Time for Reform by Elon University Law School Professor Scott Gaylord. 

In my opinion, the Supreme Court should not take cases and issue opinions just to reach some arbitrary number of opinions that is deemed appropriate by practitioners and the media.  It does not serve the interest of the citizens of North Carolina for the Supreme Court to issue opinions just for the sake of issuing opinions.  However, the Supreme Court's output should be subject to scrutiny and criticism if it is failing to address issues of importance to the jurisprudence of the state or if it is failing to address issues of law have resulted in confusion or conflicting opinions in the lower courts. 

If you think that there are specific issues the Supreme Court should be taking up, but it is not, mention it in the comments.  If we get a number of interesting issues, we may see if we can get guest authors to discuss these issues in future blog posts.

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