Judicial behavior trends: how do judges compare?

Whether advising a client on litigation or settlement strategy or determining a more favorable venue to file suit, attorneys often need to compare individual judges and jurisdictions. We used Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics tool to compare five of the top 15 most-searched districts and the national average to extract interesting trends with regard to motion outcomes.

When considering the national averages for dispositive motions, it is twice as likely that your motion to dismiss will be granted (52.4%) than for your motion to dismiss to be denied (26.9%). Nearly half of motions for summary judgment are granted (48.9%), while one-third of motions for summary judgment are denied (33.3%).

Another actionable insight we gleaned was that defense counsel in the Southern District of New York deciding what type of dispositive motion to file should consider a motion to dismiss (granted 54.3%) instead of a motion for summary judgment (granted 46.2%).

When using Bloomberg Law to measure the likelihood of success of motions for class certification, certain trends arise that can inform the choice of venue. For example, in Texas, the chances for a motion for class certification being granted are nearly doubled in the Southern District of Texas (56.6%) as compared to the Eastern District of Texas (33.3%).

We can also evaluate individual judges against their peers. When comparing the chief judges for each of the five chosen districts, we find that Ron Clark of the Eastern District of Texas is most likely grant a motion to dismiss (68.2%), while Steven Douglas Merryday of the Middle District of Florida is least likely (44.6%). Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York is most likely to deny a motion to dismiss (30.9%), with Phyllis Jean Hamilton of the Northern District of California being least likely (16.3%).

One of the most significant factors in predicting the expense of litigation is the potential length of case, so Bloomberg Law has made it simple for litigators to quickly compare how judges and jurisdictions stack up based on case type. For example, in the Middle District of Florida, there is a difference of 206 days between chief judge Merryday and Charlene Edwards Honeywell in how long they take to resolve employment cases. In fact, Merryday’s average length of case is nearly 100 days shorter than the district average. This information could be the determining factor in whether counsel is inclined to go to trial or recommend settlement.

Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics tool was recently enhanced to allow for quick, easy comparisons like these.

Learn more and read our full jurisdiction comparison by downloading the report.