Last week, we looked at what can be inferred from the patterns of Chief Justice Karmeier’s questions in civil cases between 2008 and 2016. This week, we look at the Chief Justice’s questioning in criminal cases.
In Table 497, we report the data for the Chief’s patterns when voting in the majority. Like most appellate judges, the Chief Justice questions the losing side more heavily in affirmances. In such cases, he averages 2.01 questions to appellants and only 0.68 to appellees. Writing the majority opinion has an impact – when writing for the Court, he averages five questions to appellants and 1.6 to appellees. When not writing at all, the Chief Justice averages 1.56 questions to appellants and 0.54 to appellees.
He also averages more questions to the losing party in reversals. When joining the majority in a reversal, he averages 1.92 questions to appellees, 1.04 to appellees. When writing the majority opinion, the Chief’s average for appellees jumps to 4.48 questions per argument, and his average for appellants to 3.15. The Chief Justice writes comparatively few special concurrences in criminal cases – one in affirmances, two in reversals. When not writing an opinion in a reversal, the Chief Justice averages 0.58 questions to appellants, 1.42 to appellees.
The Chief Justice is relatively seldom in the minority in criminal cases. When he is, he averages more questions to the party he’s voting against rather than the party who will ultimately win. When in the minority of an affirmance, the Chief Justice averages 1.5 questions to appellees and one to appellants. When writing a dissent, the Chief Justice asks even more questions of the party he’s voting against – three questions per argument to appellees. When not writing and voting in the minority of an affirmance, the Chief averages 1.33 questions to appellants, 1 to appellees.
When in the minority of a reversal, the Chief Justice averages four questions to appellants, none to appellees. The Chief Justice hasn’t written a dissent in any of the cases where he was in the minority of a reversal.
Join us back here tomorrow as we continue our analysis of the Chief Justice’s question patterns in criminal cases.