Tony Mauro, Supreme Court reporter of the National Law Journal, reports that the Supreme Court of the United States issued 12 summary opinions this term-- the term that ended today. Chief Justice Roberts is apparently behind this. Summary dispositions avoid oral argument, which is time-consuming and expensive. Legislators appear to be critical of the high court's reduction of the number of cases it has accepted and resolved over the last few years.
Why should you care? In the past, the best practice for a petitioner for certiorari-- a person trying to get the court to hear a case-- was to minimize or ignore the merits and only argue at that stage why the court should take the case. But now for certain cases-- criminal cases where there is a statute or a strong precedent showing a clear, conspicuous error by the lower court-- a petitioner should show that, because on a summary disposition, that petition may be the only chance.