Missouri Supreme Court Quarterly Report, April 2019, Part 1: Who? And how long did it take?

Apr 11, 2019

During the first quarter of 2019, January-March the Missouri Supreme Court handed down 21 opinions, deciding 24 cases. This first part of my quarterly report details who wrote the most opinions, and how long the Court took to issue opinions.


  • Judge Powell was the most prolific writer: he authored 5 majority and 3 other opinions. At the other extreme, Judge Breckenridge authored just 1 majority opinion and 1 concurring opinion.
  • The judge who most often authored or joined a concurring or dissenting opinion was Chief Justice Fischer; he departed from the majority 8 times. Least likely were Judges Breckenridge (who, again, authored 1 concurring opinion, but joined no dissenting or concurring opinions) and Stith (who joined just 1 dissent).

How long:

  • On average, the Court handed down its decision 160 days after oral argument. But the contrast between unanimous decisions and cases with multiple opinions is stark:
    • Decisions in cases with a single opinion averaged 105 days after argument;
    • Decisions in cases with multiple opinions averaged 214 days after argument.
  • The fastest resolution after argument was SC97321, Unifund CCr Partners v Abright, argued January 16 and decided (unanimously) just 28 days later, on February 13.
  • The slowest resolution after argument was SC96751, Doe v Parson, argued on January 23, 2018, and decided (with a concurring opinion) more than a year later, on February 13.
  • The fastest resolutions after filing were two cases decided together: SC97604, State v. Richey, transferred December 21, 2018; and SC97630, State v. Wright, transferred January 7, 2019. Both were argued February 6 and decided on March 19.
  • The slowest resolution after filing was SC96528, Tharp v. St. Luke’s Surgicenter, filed on June 26, 2017, and decided on February 26.


  • The fastest author for majority opinions handed down this quarter was Chief Justice Fischer, whose two opinions were issued 83 days (with a dissent) and 28 days (unanimous) from argument.
  • The slowest author was Judge Powell, whose opinions were handed down, on average, 211 days after argument. But that average was significantly affected by the 351 days it took to hand down the consolidated opinion in two significant tort venue cases, SC96704, Johnson & Johnson v. Burlison, and SC96710, Imerys Talc v. Burlison“”in which Judges Draper and Wilson wrote separate dissents.

James Layton leads the firm’s Appellate practice group and is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation, Labor, and Education groups. He assists clients with analysis and presentation of complex legal issues in Missouri and federal courts, both trial and appellate. In addition to handling cases himself and with other attorneys at Tueth Keeney, Jim consults with clients on appellate strategy and assists other counsel in high-stakes, complex appeals.

Jim has briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and before all Missouri appellate courts””including more than 90 cases before the Missouri Supreme Court. He has represented clients in U.S. district courts and in Missouri circuit courts from Jackson County to the City of St. Louis. He has extensive experience with government-related litigation and state taxation disputes. Jim is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a past president of the Bar Association of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and a past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers. He is a frequent speaker in the areas of appellate practice and constitutional law, both state and federal.