Last Minute Surge in Appellate Decisions Unlikely

Published on: December 28, 2008

As the end of 2008 approaches, I harken back to prior years, when Justices were leaving the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (generally as the result of mandatory retirement). In each of those years, the Court would issue a flurry of decisions, presumably so that the departing Justice’s vote would “count.” Oddly, many of these December 31st opinions were not released until days (or weeks) into the new year, but always dated the 31st; the assumption among attorneys has traditionally been that the Court had agreed on the opinions but needed to “finish” their content. Regardless, for Court watchers, it was an interesting time. For me, as the author of a Newsletter analyzing appellate decisions, it was difficult to know when the Court’s calendar was “complete.” This year, with no Justices retiring, the Court has been relatively quiet, issuing its regular complement of decisions. That said, the Court’s docket (as well as the Commonwealth and Superior Court’s) is filled with interesting cases, many relevant to civil practitioners who handle motor vehicle, malpractice, products liability, workers’ compensation and other cases. 2009 should be an interesting year for court watchers. Time will tell.