Unless CAAF issues an unexpected opinion of the court in a case that hasn’t been orally argued (which, though unlikely, is possible; see, e.g., United States v. Bradford, 68 M.J. 371 (C.A.A.F. 2010)), it will issue 43 opinions of the court this term.  I believe that will be the smallest number of opinions of the court that CMA/CAAF has ever issued over a one-year period.

What will next term look like?  Based on current trends, it appears that the number of opinions of the court could be even smaller.

On Bastille Day, I noted my sense that CAAF’s number of grants was running ahead of a similar point last year.  I was wrong.  That’s why we crunch numbers rather than relying on our general sense of things.

I believe that CAAF currently has 20 cases that will likely be argued during its coming term — 17 cases with granted or specified issues and 3 caess with certified issues.  (I exclude cases that appear to be trailer cases that will likely be summarily disposed of in light of the outcome of some other case.)  Those 20 cases are:  Blazier, Alston, Medina, Jones, Staton, White, Luke, Gooch, Savard, Flores, Prather, Stefan, Pope, Hutchins (certified issue), Watson, Savala, Rose (certified issue), Beaty, Soto, and Humphries (certified issue).  If I left any out, please let me know.  You can post a note below or e-mail me at caaflog@caaflog.com.

At this point last term, there were 23 cases with granted or specified issues and 3 cases with certified issues in a similar posture.  So the number of cases in the chute for next term (20) looks like it’s 6 smaller than the number of cases in the chute at a similar point last term (26).  But obviously there’s plenty of time for CAAF to pull even with or ahead of last year’s pace. 

Last term, CAAF issued 46 opinions of the court.  The previous five terms, it issued 65, 55, 76, 64, and 57.  It appears unlikely that CAAF will return to those levels next term.  Rather, the court seems more likely to fall near the 43-46 range set this term and last.

16 Responses to “A look at CAAF’s docket”

  1. Anonymous Appellate JAG says:

    Does the count of “43 opinions” include an opinion on US v. Nerad?

  2. Gene Fidell says:

    Tying this string together with the one on the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2010, how many petitions for grant of review and extraordinary writ petitions were denied during the current Term?

  3. RY says:

    How often has CAAF held over an opinion into the next term? Perhaps they’re waiting for Sullivan to retire or something.

    Incidentally, if Nerad is decided in say 2019, which term will that count towards? I’ll bet the opinion ends up 8 pages or something like that.

  4. Ama Goste says:

    Loving was held over for 1 or 2 terms this decade.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hundreds of thousands.

  6. Rumpole says:

    Hardly what the Congress had in mind in reviewing the Legislative History of the UCMJ.

    For the older Barristers out there, some may recall the days when a 3 member Court cranked out decisions. Just go back and look at some of the old CAAF Annual Reports:

    For Example (and this was back when their “Term” ran from 1 July to 30 June):

    1969 Term:
    Petitions Denied: 713
    Opinions Rendered: 242
    Miscellaneous Docket:
    Denied: 42
    Dismissed: 28
    Opinions Rendered: 29

    So Congress expands the CAAF due to the oppresive workload, and we get 43 opinions?

  7. Look, pal says:

    Would a motion for writ of mandamus to the S. Ct. asking the justices to tell CAAF to “do its f-ing job” be appropriate?

  8. Anon says:

    Oh, please. If you want the CAAF to hear more cases, stop having your clients plead guilty with pretrial agreements that waive almost everything under the sun. In 1969, the military had a hell of a lot more troops, most of whom didn’t want to be there, and CMA was still reviewing cases that were tried before we had military judges.

  9. Look, pal says:

    Spoken like a true government hack…hey, when the government gets what it wants at the CCA’s (b/c they’re populated by G hacks), then why worry about justice, right, pal…..??????

  10. Valentine says:


    How do you figure Luke will be summarily disposed of as a trailer case? of all the USACIL cases Luke stands with its own unique posture.

    I believe Luke will be argue and an opinion of the court issued.

    There is alot of issues with this case.

  11. Gene Fidell says:

    The Court of Appeals’ report for the 2008-09 Term indicates that 776 petitions for grant of review were either denied or dismissed, and 32 miscellaneous docket petitions or [writ] appeals were denied. None of those 808 cases were eligible for S. Ct. review under the current statute.

  12. Cloudesley Shovell says:


    I think you misread his commentary–Luke is included in a list of “20 cases that will likely be argued during [CAAF’s] coming term.”

  13. Dwight Sullivan says:

    What the Admiral said. (Luke was on the list of 20.)

    Thanks, Admiral!

  14. John O'Connor says:

    It’s always a reliable theme that any comment not favorable to expanding the rights of court-martial accuseds gets characterized as being made by a “govenment hack.”

    You know, on that standard, many of the commentators here would be fairly characterized as “defense hacks.”

    That said, I think the name-calling, from either direction, is not productive to a civilized discourse on the law.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well put, J O’C.

  16. Anon says:


    I am a defense hack. Just calling them as I see them. PTAs are the number one reason there is nothing left to appeal when the case gets to CAAF