A growing number of opinions issued last year by the Texas Supreme Court were anonymously written, a practice that enables the elected body to operate in secrecy and without public accountability, according to a scathing report to be released today, reports the Associated Press. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson called the secrecy claim a “relatively frivolous allegation.” The report by judicial watchdog group Texas Watch shows that 57 percent of the opinions issued in the court’s 2006-07 term were anonymous and unsigned. In contrast, 5 percent of the opinions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court were anonymous in a similar period.
Anonymous opinions are typically used for opinions that are brief, not controversial and for relatively obvious legal answers. But the court can use anonymity “when they render decisions that are controversial, leaving them unaccountable to voters,” the group wrote in the report. “By relying too heavily on unsigned…opinions, the court operates in the shadows, allowing little public scrutiny and failing to light the way for future jurists.”