Coming Next Week: My 1,000th Blog Post

Last week, I was looking at our archives, pulling up old research, and I stumbled onto this two-year old post – my 500th on Appellate Strategist. Now that our other two blogs, Illinois Supreme Court Review and California Supreme Court Review, have been publishing for a while, I decided to check the dashboards there too. And it turns out that this summer – next week, in fact – I’ll be publishing my 1,000th blog post.

Since I’ve always got data to quote, here are the numbers:

My first post on Appellate Strategist was published February 23, 2010. In all, I’ve published 604 posts there.

My first post on Illinois Supreme Court Review was published January 9, 2015. In all, I’ve published 264 posts on ISCR.

And finally, my first post on California Supreme Court Review was published April 27, 2016. I’ve published 129 posts on CSCR, making my total for the past seven years and five months 997 posts (and no, I’m not counting this simultaneous post on all three blogs – that would be cheating . . .)

So join us next week as we count down towards 1,000 – and if you’ve got a suggestion for what you’d like to see in the 1,000th post – let me know in the comments. And in the meantime, for an ongoing collection of news and analysis from a wide variety of sources, visit our Flipboard curated magazines on the California Supreme Court and the Illinois Supreme Court.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Chad Kainz (no changes).

What Could We Infer When Chief Justice Fitzgerald Asked the First Question in Criminal Cases?

Yesterday, we reviewed the data for Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s question pattern in criminal cases between 2008 and 2010.  Today, we look at a different aspect of the data – was the Chief Justice more likely to ask the first question of either side, depending on how he was voting and whether he was writing an opinion?

The Chief Justice was far more likely to ask the first question of appellants when he ultimately voted to affirm.  He asked the first question in criminal affirmances 32.2% of the time, to only 6.78% of appellees.  As usual, writing the majority opinion had a substantial effect.  When he was writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked the first question of appellants 62.5% of the time, and of appellees 25% of the time.  When not writing an opinion, Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked the first question of appellants 27.45% of the time, and of appellees 3.92% of the time.

For reversals, the Chief Justice once again was more likely to start the questioning of an appellant.  He began with appellants 41.82% of the time, but only 18.18% of the time with appellees.  Writing the majority opinion had a substantial impact.  When writing the majority in a reversal, there was an 83.33% chance that the Chief Justice would ask the first question, and a one-in-three chance that he would ask the first question of appellees.  When not writing an opinion, there was a 36.73% chance that Chief Justice Fitzgerald would ask the first question of appellants, and a 16.33% chance that he would ask the first question of appellees.

As we noted yesterday, Chief Justice Fitzgerald didn’t vote in the minority in a single one of the criminal cases where he heard argument and voted between 2008 and 2010.  In the cases where he heard argument but retired before the decision, Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked the first question in only two – both times, of the appellee.  In one of those cases, the firm ultimately affirmed 7-0.  The other was the case we discussed yesterday, where Chief Justice Fitzgerald questioned the appellees much more heavily, but the Court ultimately affirmed with modifications by a vote of 4-3.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s successor, Justice Mary Jane Theis.

Image courtesy of Pixabay by Free-Photos (no changes).

What Could We Infer From Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s Question Patterns in Criminal Cases?

Last week, we continued our analysis of the Court’s oral arguments between 2008 and 2016 with a look at former Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s patterns in civil cases during the two years before he retired, 2008-2010.  This week, we turn our attention to Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s patterns in criminal cases.

In all, Chief Justice Fitzgerald voted with the majority to affirm in 59 cases, and voted with the majority to reverse in 55 criminal cases.  He wrote the majority opinion affirming in eight criminal cases, and wrote the majority opinion reversing in six criminal cases.

In both affirmances and reversals, Chief Justice Fitzgerald followed the same pattern as most of the other Justices, questioning the losing party more heavily.  In affirmances, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 5.46 questions to appellants, but only 2.41 to appellees.  Writing the majority opinion had a substantial effect; in cases where he was writing the majority, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 14.25 questions to appellants, and 3.25 to appellees.  Chief Justice Fitzgerald wrote no concurrences in affirmances during these years.  When he was not writing an opinion, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 4.08 questions to appellants and 2.27 to appellees.

In the 55 cases where he joined the majority of a reversal, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 4.67 questions to appellants and 4.82 questions to appellees.  Interestingly, writing a majority had more of an effect on the winning party – when writing the majority, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 10.5 questions to appellants, and 7.83 to appellees.  Chief Justice Fitzgerald wrote no concurrences in criminal reversals.  When he was not writing an opinion in a reversal, Chief Justice Fitzgerald averaged 3.96 questions to appellants and 4.45 to appellees.

Chief Justice Fitzgerald didn’t vote with the minority of a single criminal case between 2008 and 2010.  There’s only evidence that the Chief Justice’s retirement might have made a difference in the result in one case argued in 2010.

The Chief Justice participated in nine arguments in 2010 where the case was decided after his retirement. In five of those nine cases, he asked no questions at all.  In one of the remaining four cases, he asked more questions of the appellant, suggesting that he was leaning towards affirmance.  The Court affirmed unanimously in that case.  In the remaining three cases where Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked more questions of the appellees, the Court reversed unanimously in two.  In only one case, where Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked fourteen questions of appellees to only four of appellants, did the Court wind up affirming with modifications by a four to three vote.

Join us back here tomorrow as we conclude our analysis of Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s patterns in oral arguments between 2008 and 2010.

Image courtesy of Pixabay by kaicho20.

What Could We Infer When Chief Justice Fitzgerald Asked the First Question in Civil Cases?

Yesterday, we began our review of the limited data from civil cases in which Chief Justice Fitzgerald both participated in oral argument and voted between 2008 and 2010.  Today, we wrap up our look at the civil docket.

As we noted yesterday, the Chief Justice voted with the majority in 32 civil affirmances, writing the majority opinion in five of those cases.  In those cases, there was an 18.75% chance that he would ask the first question of appellants, and a 12.5% chance that he’d lead off with the appellees.  There are only a few affirmances in which Chief Justice Fitzgerald wrote the majority opinion, but the impact of writing was the opposite of what we would expect.  In those cases, there was a 20% chance that he would ask the first question of appellees, and he never asked the first questions of appellants.  In affirmances where Chief Justice Fitzgerald didn’t write an opinion, there was a 22.22% chance that he would ask the first question of appellants, and an 11.11% chance that he would lead off against the appellees.

As we mentioned yesterday, Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s patterns in civil reversals were the opposite of most Justices – he averaged more questions to the winning party than to the side who lost.  Overall in reversals, Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked the first question of appellants in 32.73% of cases, and led off with the appellees in only 14.55%.  On the reversal side, writing the majority opinion meant it was far more likely that the Chief Justice would begin the questions – in those cases, there was a 55.56% chance that he would ask the first question of appellants, and he began against appellees a third of the time.  In the 46 civil reversals where Chief Justice Fitzgerald didn’t write an opinion, there was a 28.26% chance that he’d ask the first question of appellants, and a 10.87% chance that he’d begin against the appellees.

Chief Justice Fitzgerald heard argument and voted with the minority in only one civil case between 2008 and 2010 – a reversal.  In that case, he didn’t begin the questioning with either side.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s question patterns in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Phil Roeder (no changes).

What Could We Infer From the Pattern of Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s Questions in Civil Cases?

Our review of the Court’s oral arguments between 2008 and 2016 continues this week with Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald.  Since Chief Justice Fitzgerald retired in 2010, our data is more limited than it is for other Justices.  Because we’re tracking correlations between questions and voting, we disregard the cases in 2010 for which the Chief Justice heard oral argument but which were handed down after his departure from the Court.  We begin with the civil docket.

Chief Justice Fitzgerald voted with the majority in 32 civil affirmances.  In five of those cases, he wrote the majority opinion.  He wrote no concurrences in civil affirmances.  Overall, like most Justices, he averaged more questions to the appellant – the losing party in affirmances – than to the appellees.  He asked 139 questions of appellants, an average of 4.34 questions per case, and 79 questions of appellees – an average of 2.47.  As usual, writing the majority opinion had an impact, but interestingly, when Chief Justice Fitzgerald wrote the majority opinion, he averaged slightly more questions to the winning party – 7.4 questions per case to appellees, 6.6 to appellants.  In affirmances where Chief Justice Fitzgerald didn’t write an opinion, he averaged 3.93 questions to appellants and only 1.56 to appellees.

Chief Justice Fitzgerald voted with the majority in 55 reversals in civil cases.  In nine of those cases, he wrote the majority opinion.  He wrote no concurrences in those cases, leaving 46 where he didn’t write an opinion.  In reversals, the Chief Justice averaged more questions to the winning party.  He asked 258 questions to appellants (4.69 per case) and only 172 to appellees (3.13 per case).  Writing the majority opinion, as usual, had a substantial effect.  In those cases, the Chief Justice averaged 7.67 questions to appellants and 7.33 to appellees.  In the 46 reversals where he didn’t write an opinion, Chief Justice Fitzgerald asked 189 questions of appellants (4.11 per case) and 106 to appellees (2.3 per case).

For every other Justice, after examining the data for cases in which the Justice voted with the majority, we’ve tracked the trends where he or she voted in the minority.  For Chief Justice Fitzgerald, there’s almost no data for voting in the minority in civil cases.  Between 2008 and 2010, Chief Justice Fitzgerald wasn’t in the minority of an argued civil affirmance a single time.  He dissented from one civil reversal, asking one question of the appellant and none of the appellee.

Join us back here tomorrow as we look further at the data for Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s question patterns in civil cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by David Wilson (no changes).

What Can We Infer When Chief Justice Karmeier Asks the First Question in Criminal Cases?

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Yesterday, we reviewed the data on Chief Justice Karmeier’s questions in civil cases between 2008 and 2016.  Today, we take a look at a different side of the data – what can we infer when the Chief Justice asks the first question to either side in criminal cases?

Voting against a party did not make the Chief Justice more likely to ask that party the first question, but writing the majority opinion did have a substantial impact.  When voting in the majority of an affirmance, there was a 17.69% chance that the Chief Justice would ask the first question of appellants, and a 9.52% chance that he would begin the questioning of appellees.  When writing the majority opinion, there was a 30% chance that the Chief Justice would begin with respect to each side.  When not writing an opinion in an affirmance, the Chief Justice asked the first question of appellants 15.87% of the time, and of appellees 6.35% of the time.

When in the majority of a reversal, the Chief Justice asked appellants the first question 13.25% of the time, and begun the questioning of appellees 6.63% of the time.  When writing the majority opinion, there was a substantially greater chance that the Chief Justice would begin the questioning: 40.74% for appellants, 18.52% for appellees.  When not writing an opinion, there was a 7.3% chance that the Chief Justice would ask the first question of appellants, and only a 4.38% chance that he would ask the first question of appellees.

Table 499

When voting in the minority of an affirmance, there was a 25% chance that the Chief Justice would ask the first question, both of appellants and appellees.  In the only case where he wrote a dissent from a criminal affirmance, the Chief Justice asked the first question of appellees.

When voting in the minority of a reversal, there was a 20% chance that the Chief Justice would ask the first question of appellants.  In no case did he ask the first question of appellees.

Table 500

Join us back here next Tuesday as we move onward to the next step in our analysis of the Justices’ question patterns.

Image courtesy of Flickr by David Wilson (no changes).

What Can We Infer From Chief Justice Karmeier’s Question Patterns in Criminal Cases?

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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.

Table 497

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.

Table 498

Join us back here tomorrow as we continue our analysis of the Chief Justice’s question patterns in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by H. Michael Miley (no changes).

What Can We Infer When Chief Justice Karmeier Asks the First Question in Civil Cases?

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Yesterday, we began our analysis of the Chief Justice’s question patterns in civil cases from 2008 through 2016.  Today, we address the Chief Justice’s patterns in criminal cases.

When voting with the majority in an affirmance, the Chief Justice begins the questioning of appellants in 13.68% of cases.  There’s a 12.63% chance he’ll ask the first question of appellees. Writing the majority opinion has a substantial impact on his patterns for the losing party.  When writing the majority, the Chief Justice asks the first question of appellants a third of the time, but of appellees in only 16.67% of cases.  When not writing an opinion in an affirmance, the Chief Justice asks the first question of appellants in 9.33% of cases, and of appellees in 10.67%.

When voting with the majority in a reversal, there’s an 11.52% chance that the Chief Justice will ask the first question of appellants, and a 5.45% chance he’ll begin with appellees.  Writing the majority impact has a major impact; in such cases, there’s a 22.22% chance that the Chief Justice will ask the first question of appellants, and a 14.81% chance that he’ll begin with appellees. When the Chief Justice is not writing an opinion and votes with the majority in a reversal, he asks the first question of appellants in 9.56% of cases, and of appellees in 2.94%.

Table 495

Chief Justice Karmeier very seldom asks the first question when he’s in the minority of a civil case.  When in the minority of an affirmance, he’s asked the first question of appellants in only 11.11% of cases.  He’s never led off against the appellees.  Writing a dissent has no impact at all.  In the six cases that he’s dissented in writing from an affirmance, he’s never led off the questioning against either side.  When in the minority of a reversal, the Chief Justice asks the first question of appellants in 28.57% of cases.  He has never asked the first question of appellees.  In the two cases when the Chief Justice has written a dissent from a reversal, the Chief Justice has never asked the first question of either side.

Table 496

Join us back here next Tuesday as we look at Chief Justice Karmeier’s question patterns in criminal cases

Image courtesy of Flickr by David Ohmer (no changes).

What Can We Infer From Chief Justice Karmeier’s Question Patterns in Civil Cases?

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For the past two weeks, we’ve been reviewing Justice Thomas’ question patterns in oral arguments since 2008, and whether it’s possible to infer his likely vote and whether he’s writing an opinion.  This week, we turn to Chief Justice Karmeier’s patterns in civil cases.

Chief Justice Karmeier has voted with the majority in 95 cases since 2008 for which the oral argument video is posted on the Court’s website.  He wrote the majority opinion in 18 of those cases, and wrote special concurrences in two.  Overall, he asks slightly more questions to the appellants, the losing parties: 1.62 to appellants, 1.19 to appellees.  Writing the majority opinion has a substantial effect.  For appellants, he averages 3.11 questions, and he averages 3.06 questions to appellees.  When he’s not writing but votes with the majority in affirmances, he averages 1.15 questions to appellants, but only 0.73 per argument to appellees.

Chief Justice Karmeier has voted with the majority in 165 reversals in civil cases since 2008.  Overall, he averages slightly more questions to the losing party in such cases – 1.3 to appellants, 1.44 to appellees.  Once again, writing the majority opinion has a substantial impact.  When he’s writing the majority, the Chief Justice averages 2.93 questions to appellants and 2.85 to appellees.  When Chief Justice Karmeier isn’t writing but votes with the majority in a reversal, he averages only 0.99 questions to appellants, but 1.15 to appellees.

Table 493

Between 2008 and 2016, the Chief Justice was in the minority in nine affirmances and seven reversals in civil cases.  When in the minority of an affirmance, he averaged 0.89 questions to appellants, 0.56 to appellees.  Writing a dissent has only a minimal effect.  When the Chief Justice wrote a dissent, he averaged one question to appellants and 0.83 to appellees.  When in the minority of a reversal, Chief Justice Karmeier averaged 1.43 questions to appellants and only 0.14 to appellees.  On the two occasions when he dissented from a reversal, he asked no questions at all.

Table 494

Join us back here tomorrow as we analyze Chief Justice Karmeier’s patterns in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by David (no changes).

What Can We Infer When Justice Thomas Asks the First Question in a Criminal Case?

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Yesterday, we analyzed whether it’s possible to infer Justice Thomas’ vote and whether or not he’s writing an opinion based upon the pattern of his questions in criminal cases.  Today, we look at whether it’s more likely that Justice Thomas will ask the first question in criminal cases, based upon his vote and whether he’s writing.

When voting in the majority of an affirmance, there’s a 48.7% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellant, and a 22.73% chance that he’ll ask the first question of the appellee.  Writing the majority opinion has an impact – when writing the majority, there’s a 60% chance he’ll ask the first question of appellants and a 30% chance that he’ll ask the first question of appellees.  When not writing in an affirmance, there’s a 45.53% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellants and a 21.13% chance that he will lead off against appellees.

When voting in the majority of a reversal, there’s a 33.73% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellants and a 34.94% chance that he’ll lead off against the appellees.  When writing the majority opinion, there’s a 47.83% chance that he’ll lead off with the appellants, and a 52.17% chance that he’ll ask the first question of appellees.  When not writing an opinion, there’s a 32.12% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question, both of the appellant and the appellee.

Table 491

When voting in the minority of an affirmance, there’s a 20% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of the appellants or the appellees.  When writing a dissent in such cases, there’s a 33.33% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellants or appellees.  When voting in the minority of a reversal, there’s a 37.5% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellants and a 25% chance that he’ll ask the first question of appellees.  When writing a dissent in such cases, there’s a 60% chance that Justice Thomas will ask the first question of appellants and a 20% chance that he’ll lead off against appellees.

Table 492

Join us back here next Tuesday as we begin our look at Chief Justice Karmeier’s record in civil cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Adam Moss (no changes).

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