Where Did the Court’s Second District Criminal Cases Come From (Part 2 of 2)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the data on how the Second District criminal cases decided by the Supreme Court between 1990 and 2004 were distributed among the Second’s twelve counties.  Today, we’re finishing our review, looking at the years 2005 to 2019.

In 2005, the Court decided four cases from Du Page county, two from Kane and Boone counties, and one each from McHenry, Winnebago and Ogle.  In 2006, the Court decided four cases from Kane county, two from Lake and one from Du Page and Ogle.  In 2007, the Court decided two cases from Du Page and one each from Winnebago, De Kalb and Kane.  In 2008, the Court decided four criminal cases from Du Page county, two from Lake and Winnebago, and one each from McHenry and Kane counties.  In 2009, the Court decided one criminal case each from Lake, Du Page, Winnebago and Kendall counties.

In 2010, the Court decided three cases each from Du Page and Kane counties, two from Lake, Winnebago and Boone and one from De Kalb county.  In 2011, the Court decided three cases from Du Page county, two from Lake and one from Boone.  In 2012, the Court decided two cases from Lake and one from Stephenson.  In 2013, the Court decided three cases from Lake and one each from Winnebago and Kane.  In 2014, the Court decided two cases from Kane county and one case each from Kendall, Du Page and Lake.

In 2015, the Supreme Court decided two criminal cases that originated in Kane county and one from De Kalb.  In 2016, the Court decided only one Second District criminal case, and it was from Kendall county.  In 2017, the Court decided one case each from Du Page, Winnebago, Kane and Boone counties.  In 2018, the Court decided two cases from Du Page county and one each from Lake, Kane, Stephenson and Kendall counties.  So far this year, the Court has decided only one Second District criminal case, which came from McHenry county.

Let’s wrap up by comparing population and total cases.  Same methodology as last time: we’re comparing (1) the percentage of the total population of the Second District counties held by each county; to (2) the percentage of the total Second District criminal cases decided 1990-2019 by the Supreme Court originating in that county’s Circuit Court.  Recall that last time, we discovered that there wasn’t a particularly close relationship, even over the course of thirty years, between population and case distribution.

As shown below, criminal cases tend to stick closer to the population distribution than civil cases do.  For example, Lake county accounted for 22.06% of the population (as of 2010) and 22.84% of the cases.  Du Page is 28.75% of the population, 24.37% of the cases.  Kane is 16.16% of the population and 22.84% of the cases.  Winnebago is 9.26% of the population, 12.69% of the cases.

Relatively few counties stray very far from a proportional share – McHenry is 9.68% of population, 4.06% of cases.  Boone county is 1.7% of the people, 3.56% of the cases.  De Kalb and Ogle are both small counties – 3.3% and 1.68% of the population, respectively – and both account for 2.54% of the criminal cases.  Kendall county is 3.6% of the population and 2.03% of the cases.  Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties are even smaller – 0.71% and 1.5%, respectively, of population – and are both 1.02% of the criminal cases.  Finally, Carroll county accounts for 0.48% of the people and contributed zero criminal cases to the Supreme Court’s docket 1990-2019.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we take on another District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by   (no changes).

Where Did the Court’s Second District Criminal Cases Come From (Part 1 of 2)?

Last time, we reviewed how the Supreme Court’s civil cases from the Second District were distributed among the District’s Circuit Courts, and then compared each county’s share of the total cases to its share of the total population of the Second District.  This week, we’re looking at the data for criminal cases.

In 1990, the Court decided two criminal cases each from Lake and Du Page counties.  In 1991, the Court decided two more from Du Page, two from Winnebago county and one each from Kane and Lake counties.  The following year, the Court decided four criminal cases from Du Page county, four from Kane, three from Lake and two from Winnebago.  In 1993, the Court decided two cases from Lake county and one each from McHenry, Kane and Boone.  In 1994, the cases were spread almost evenly across the District: two cases from Jo Daviess and Kane counties and one each from Lake, Du Page, Winnebago and Ogle.

In 1995, the Court decided three criminal cases from Du Page County, two each from Lake and Kane and one from Ogle.  In 1996, the Court decided three cases from Kane county and one from Lake.  The following year, the Court decided two cases from Lake county and one each from Du Page, Winnebago and Kane.

1998 was a busy year for the Second District, as the Court decided six cases from Du Page county, three from Lake, two each from Winnebago and Kane and one from Lee county.  In 1999, the Court decided six criminal cases from Lake county, two from Winnebago and one each from Du Page and Kane.

In 2000, the Supreme Court decided three criminal cases from Kane county, two from Du Page and one each from Lake and McHenry.  In 2001, the Court decided two cases from Kane county and one each from Lake, Du Page, McHenry and Winnebago.  The following year, the Court decided three cases from Kane, two each from Winnebago and De Kalb and one from Du Page and Lake counties.  In 2003, the Court decided three cases from Du Page county, two from Lake and one each from McHenry, Winnebago and Kane.  In 2004, the Court decided two cases from Du Page and Winnebago counties and one each from Lake, McHenry, Ogle and Kane counties.

Join us back here tomorrow, when we’ll address the data for the year 2005 to 2019.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ron Frazier (no changes).

Where Did the Court’s Second District Civil Cases Come From (Part 2 of 2)?

Last time, we began reviewing in five year increments the counties which produced the civil cases from the Second District which the Supreme Court decided between 1990 and 2004.

In 2005, the Court decided two cases from Lake county and one each from Du Page, McHenry, Ogle and Kane.  In 2006, the Court decided three cases each from Lake and McHenry counties and one from Du Page, Winnebago, Kane and Kendall.  The following year, the Court decided one civil case each from Lake, Du Page, Winnebago and Lee counties.  In 2008, the Court decided four cases from Lake and Du Page counties and one from Kane county.  In 2009, the Court decided five civil cases from Du Page county, two from Lake and one from Winnebago county.

In 2010, the Court decided only two civil cases from the Second District, both originating in Kane county.  In 2011, the Court decided four cases each from Lake and Du Page counties and one from Winnebago.  The following year, the Court decided three cases from Du Page county and one each from Lake and Kane.  In 2013, the Court decided two cases from Du Page county and one each from Lake, McHenry, Kane and Stephenson counties.  In 2014, the Court decided two cases from Lake county and one from Kane and Kendall counties.

In 2015, the Court decided three civil cases from Lake county and one apiece from Du Page, McHenry, Winnebago and Stephenson counties.  In 2016, the Court decided only one civil case from the Second District, which was originated in Winnebago county.  The following year, the Court decided three civil cases from Lake county and one from Kane county.  In 2018, the Court decided one case each from Du Page and Winnebago counties.  So far in 2019, the Court has decided one case from Lake county and one from Kane.

Across the entire period of 1990-2019, Du Page county has produced the most Second District civil cases at 76, followed by Lake (55), Kane (22) and McHenry and Winnebago (14 each).  Of course, we have no reason to believe that civil cases decided by the Supreme Court should necessarily track each county’s share of population year by year, since leave to appeal is based on the issue presented.  However, would each county’s share roughly track population over the course of thirty years?  Let’s compare each county’s share of the total population of the Second District according to the 2010 census to the same county’s share of the Second District’s total number of civil cases.

Both Du Page and Lake counties are “overrepresented” in the civil caseload.  Du Page accounts for 38% of the cases but only 28.75% of the population, while Lake makes up 27.5% of the cases and 22.06% of the population.  Kane is underrepresented – 11% of the cases, 16.16% of the population.  McHenry and Winnebago counties are slightly underrepresented too – both counties have 7% of the cases, but more than 9% of the population (McHenry 9.68% and Winnebago 9.26%).  Kendall and De Kalb were a bit underrepresented (Kendall 2% of cases and 3.6% of population, De Kalb 1% of cases and 3.3% of population).  Of the remaining counties, Ogle and Lee counties are slightly overrepresented in the cases and Boone county was slightly underrepresented.  Stephenson county accounted for 1.5% of the cases and 1.5% of the total population.  Since 1990, the Court has decided no civil cases at all originating in Jo Daviess or Carroll counties.

Join us back here next week as we look at the Second District’s criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gary Todd (no changes).

Where Did the Court’s Second District Civil Cases Come From (Part 1 of 2)?

Last week, we reviewed which Districts of the Appellate Court produced the Supreme Court’s civil and criminal dockets.  This week and in the weeks to come, we’ll be drilling down on those numbers to the trial courts.  The last time we reviewed the county data eighteen months ago, we reviewed all the counties of Illinois together, so this time, we’re looking at the data a little differently: five years at a time, how much of the total caseload did each county assigned to the District account for?

We’ll begin with the Second District (since the First District only includes one county – Cook).  Thirteen counties are assigned to the Second District: Lake, Du Page, McHenry, Winnebago, De Kalb, Ogle, Kane, Boone, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Carroll, Kendall and Lee.  In Table 1258, we report the population of each county, but to make comparing this data to case totals a bit easier, we convert each county’s population into a percentage of the District-wide total.  Du Page county accounts for 28.75% of the population of the District.  Lake is 22.06% and Kane is 16.16%.  McHenry and Winnebago are just south of ten percent – 9.68% and 9.26%, respectively.  The rest of the counties are quite small.  Kendall county has 3.6%, De Kalb 3.3%, Boone county is 1.7%, Ogle county is 1.68%, Stephenson county is 1.5% and Lee county is 1.13%.  Jo Daviess county is 0.71% and Carroll county is 0.48% of the District.

In 1990, the Court decided three civil cases from Lake county, three from Du Page and one each from McHenry, Winnebago, De Kalb and Ogle counties.  In 1991, the Court decided three civil cases from Kane county and one each from Lake, Du Page, McHenry and Winnebago counties.  The following year, the Court decided seven civil cases from Du Page county, three from Lake county, two from Boone county and one each from McHenry, Winnebago and Kane counties.  In 1993, the Court decided one case each from Du Page, McHenry and De Kalb counties.  In 1994, the Court decided six cases from Du Page county, three from Kane county and one each from Lake and McHenry.

In 1995, the Court decided three civil cases from Lake county, two from Du Page and one from Kane.  In 1996, the Court decided four cases from Lake county, two from Kane and one each from Du Page, Winnebago, Stephenson and Lee.  The following year, the Court decided one case apiece from Lake, Du Page, Winnebago and Ogle counties.  In 1998, the Court decided six cases from Du Page county, four from Lake and one from McHenry.  In 1999, the Court decided four civil cases from Du Page county and one from Lake county.

In 2000, the Court decided five cases from Du Page county, three from Lake county and one from Winnebago.  In 2001, the Court decided five cases from Du Page county and one each from Ogle, Kane and Kendall.  The following year, the Court decided four cases from Du Page county and one from McHenry and Boone.  In 2003, the Court decided two cases from Du Page county and one each from Lake, McHenry and Kane.  In 2004, the Court decided five civil cases from Du Page county, three from Lake county and one from Winnebago.

Join us back here next time as we finish our review of the Second District civil cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

Which Districts of the Appellate Court Account for the Court’s Criminal Docket (2005-2019)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the distribution of the Court’s criminal cases from 1990 to 2004.  Today, we’re addressing the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court for the Court’s criminal cases from 2005 to 2019.

The Court’s criminal cases from the First District in the years 2005 to 2009 were up sharply to 94: 33 unattributed to a Division, 15 which arose from Division 3, 13 from Division 4, 9 each from Divisions 2 and 6, 8 from Division 1 and 7 from Division 5.

The Court decided 38 cases from the Second District, 37 from the Third District, 35 from the Fourth District and 6 from the Fifth District.  With death penalty cases beginning to taper off, the Court decided only 23 cases on direct appeal from the trial courts, plus 4 on original jurisdiction and 3 from the bar court.

Between 2010 and 2014, the flow of cases from the First District was down slightly to 86: 30 which are unattributed, 15 from Division 3, 11 from Division 4, 10 from Division 1, 8 from Division 6, 7 from Division 2 and 5 from Division 5.

The Court decided 36 criminal cases from the Third District, 32 from the Second District, 24 from the Fourth District and 8 from the Fifth District.  Finally, the Court decided 14 cases on direct review from the trial courts and 4 each from the bar court and on direct review.

Between 2015 and 2019 to date, the Court has decided only 48 cases from the First District.  The Court has decided only 3 cases we were unable to assign to a Division, 10 from Division 1, 9 from Division 2, 8 from Division 3, 7 from Division 6, 6 from Division 5 and 5 from Division 4.

The Court has decided 28 cases from the Third District, 18 from the Fourth District, 15 from the Second District and 9 from the Fifth District.  The Court has decided 19 cases on direct review from the trial courts and 1 on original jurisdiction.

Join us back here next week as we take up a new subject.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Denise Krebs (no changes).

Which Districts of the Appellate Court Account for the Court’s Criminal Docket (1990-2004)?

Last time, we reviewed which Districts (and Divisions) of the Appellate Court produced the Supreme Court’s civil docket from 1990 to 2019.  This week, we’re reviewing the sources of the criminal docket.

Between 1990 and 1994, the Court decided 93 criminal cases which originated in Chicago’s First District: we were unable to determine the Division for 13 cases, 13 cases came from Division 1, 12 from Division 2, 21 from Division 3, 13 from Division 4, 17 from Division 5 and 4 from Division 6.  The Court decided 36 cases from the Second District, 34 from the Fifth District, 33 from the Third District and 21 cases from the Fourth District.  The Court decided 97 cases arising directly from the trial courts – nearly all death penalty cases from this era before abolition.  The Court decided 13 cases which arose from the Bar Court (these cases too are largely gone from the Court’s docket in recent years – they are typically resolved by unpublished orders rather than full-bore opinions).  Finally, the Court decided 3 cases invoking the Court’s original jurisdiction.

Between 1995 and 1999, the Court’s caseload from the First District fell to 63.  The Court decided 18 cases from undetermined Divisions, 11 from Division 1, 10 from Division 2, 8 from Division 6, 6 each from Divisions 3 and 4 and 4 from Division 5.

The Court decided 43 criminal cases from the Second District, 23 from the Fourth District, 19 from the Third District and 13 from the Fifth District.  The Court decided 162 cases on direct appeal from the trial courts and 4 from the bar court.

Criminal cases were down a bit more from 2000 to 2004 in the First District.  The Court decided 56 criminal cases from the First District – 20 we can’t attribute to a Division, 8 from Division 3, 7 from Division 1, 6 each from Divisions 4, 5 and 6, and 3 from Division 2.  The Court decided 46 cases from the Fourth District, 39 from the Third District, 38 from the Second District and 18 from the Fifth District.  The Court decided 134 cases on direct review from the trial courts, 5 under its original jurisdiction and 4 from the bar court.

Join us back here next time as we turn our attention to the years 2005 to 2019.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gary Todd (no changes).

Which Districts of the Appellate Court Account for the Court’s Civil Docket (2005-2019)?

Last time, we reviewed the originating Districts of the Appellate Court for the Supreme Court’s civil docket between 1990 and 2004.  Today, we’re taking the numbers up to today.

For the years 2005 to 2009, the Court decided 87 cases in all which originated in Chicago’s First District – 14 from Division 1, 17 from Division 2, 16 from Division 3, 12 from Division 4, 8 from Division 5, 16 from Division 6 and 4 from the Industrial Commission Division of the First District. 

As for the other Districts, the Court decided 40 cases which rose from the Second District, 27 from the Fourth District, 25 from the Fifth District, 22 from the Third District, 17 which arose directly from the trial courts and 2 which were based on original jurisdiction.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Court’s civil caseload from the First District was down slightly to 80 cases: 10 cases from Division 1, 12 from Division 2, 16 from Division 3, 14 from Division 4, 9 from Division 5 and 19 cases from Division 6.  The Court decided 29 cases from the Second District, 24 from the Fourth District, 18 from the Fifth District and 14 from the Third District.  The Court also decided 4 cases which arose directly from the trial courts and 2 cases on certified question from the Seventh Circuit.

For the years 2015 through the end of last week, the Court had decided 59 civil cases from the First District.  The Court heard 15 cases from Division 5, 12 from Division 1, 9 from Division 4, 8 from Division 3, 7 from Division 6, and 6 cases from Division 2.  One case arose on workers compensation review from the First District, and there was one case which we were unable to attribute definitively to a Division.

The Court has decided 17 civil cases from the Second District, 16 cases from the Fifth District and 14 cases each from the Third and Fourth Districts.  The Court has decided 14 cases on direct review from the trial courts and one on certified question review from the Seventh Circuit.

Join us back here next week as we look at the origins of the Court’s criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gary Todd (no changes).

Which Districts of the Appellate Court Account for the Court’s Civil Docket (1990-2004)?

This week, we’re looking at a new topic in our ongoing review of the Court’s work: which Districts of the Appellate Court contributed the Supreme Court’s civil docket since 1990.

Between 1990 and 1994, the civil docket was far from evenly distributed, either among the Districts of the Appellate Court, or among the Divisions of the First District in Chicago.  The Court decided 132 civil cases from the First District in the first five years of our period.  We were unable to definitively determine which Division produced thirteen civil cases.  Among the remaining First District cases, Divisions 3 and 4 led, producing thirty and twenty-nine cases, respectively.  The Court decided twenty-one civil cases from Division 2.  District 5 accounted for sixteen cases and Division 1 produced fourteen.  Division 6 accounted for nine cases.

Among the remaining Districts during thee five years, the Fifth District was the second most common source for the Court’s civil cases, producing 41 cases (a little more than one-third the number coming from Chicago’s First District).  For those not from Illinois, the Fifth is the southernmost District in Illinois and probably the largest in terms of square mileage.  The District contained 37 counties, and its most significant cities are probably Carbondale and Belleville.  In terms of implications for the Court’s docket, the District is most well-known (or notorious, depending on who you ask) for the enormous number of asbestos cases that arise out of St. Clair and Madison counties, two small counties nestled in the western corner of the District right across from St. Louis, Missouri.  As we’ll see in a few weeks, it’s also important for having a consistently much higher reversal rate at the Supreme Court than the other Districts.

The Second District is the northernmost District geographically, just across the border from Wisconsin.  The Second includes thirteen counties, including the counties bordering the western top half of the First District.  It’s a historic area of the state – Galena in Jo Daviess County was the home of U.S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals, Dixon was the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan and Freeport was the site of the second Lincoln-Douglas debate.  Waukegan and Rockford are the county seats of Lake and Winnebago counties, respectively.  The Second District accounted for 46 civil cases between 1990 and 1994.

The Fourth District is next, producing 39 civil cases from 1990 to 1994.  The Fourth District encompasses 30 counties and is located directly north of the Fifth District.  Its caseload includes a great many government and administrative law cases coming from the state capital of Springfield in Sangamon County.

Finally, we have the Third District, which produced 31 civil cases from 1990 to 1994.  The Third consists of 21 counties and is located directly south of the Second and north of the Fourth, with part of its eastern border adjoining Chicago’s First District.  The Third District is based in Ottawa.

The final two important sources for the Court’s civil cases were 33 direct appeals from the Circuit Court (typically appeals from rulings holding a state statute unconstitutional).  Seven more cases were appeals to the Court’s original jurisdiction, and were generally petitions for writ of mandamus.

Between 1995 and 1999, the Court decided 117 civil cases from the First District – 27 not attributable to any Division, 21 each from Divisions 3 and 6, 15 from Division 1, 12 from Division 2, 10 from Division 4 and 7 from Division 5.  4 cases arrived from the Industrial Commission division of the First District.  The Court decided 39 civil cases from the Second District, 37 from the Fifth District, 30 from the Fourth and 24 from the Third District.  The Court decided 34 civil cases on direct appeal and one as a certified question from the Seventh Circuit.

During the years 2000 to 2004, both the Court’s overall civil docket and its civil case load from each of the Districts of the Appellate Court were down.  The Court decided 93 cases from the First District: 17 from Divisions 1 and 3, 13 from Division 4, 12 from Divisions 2 and 5, 11 unattributed to a Division, 8 from Division 6 and 3 from the Industrial Commission Division of the First District.  Total cases from the Second District were down three to 36.  The Court decided 31 cases from the Fifth District, a decrease of six.  The Court decided 28 cases from the Fourth District, only slightly down from 1995-1999, and 18 cases from the Second District (a decrease of six).  The Court also decided 22 cases on direct appeal, four under its original jurisdiction, and four on certified question from the Seventh Circuit.

Join us back here later today as we examine the most recent period of the Court’s history.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Vicki Timman (no changes).

What Can Individual Justices’ Questioning Forecast About the Result – Criminal Cases 2018

Yesterday, we addressed the court-wide data for the oral arguments in the criminal cases decided last year.  Now, let’s dig down to the Justice-by-Justice numbers.

Long-time readers will know that historically, the most active questioner on the Court during oral arguments tends to be Justice Thomas.  But last year on the criminal side, Justice Theis was the more active.  For appellants in the opening segment of argument, Justice Theis averaged 4.62 questions to 3.12 for Justice Thomas.  Justice Theis asked 3 questions of appellees to Justice Thomas’ 2.96.  Only in rebuttal did Justice Thomas lead, 0.58 questions to 0.27.  Behind Justices Theis and Thomas, the rest of the Court was less active.  For appellants, Justice Burke was third, Justice Garman next and Justice Neville after that.  Chief Justice Karmeier (0.96) and Justice Kilbride (0.08) asked very few questions of criminal appellants.  On the appellee side, the Chief Justice averaged 2 questions, Justice Garman 1.65 and Justice Burke 1.35.  Justices Neville and Kilbride both averaged under 1 per argument.  Questions are few during rebuttals – Justice Burke was second at 0.35, slightly ahead of Justices Theis and Kilbride at 0.27.

Does heavier-than-expected questioning from a Justice suggest he or she may be writing an opinion?  Although we must review the numbers with some caution, since during a single year individual Justices will write only a few opinions apiece (tending to end in results that are skewed high or low), the answer in 2018 on the criminal docket was generally yes.

Justice Theis averaged 15.25 questions to appellants when she was writing the majority (and yes, that number was largely the product of three cases in which Justice Theis asked 27, 15 and 13 questions of appellants while writing the opinion).  Justice Thomas averaged 6, Justice Neville 3, Justice Garman 2.67, Chief Justice Karmeier 2.4 and Justice Burke 2.  Justice Burke led with 5.67 questions to appellees.  The Chief Justice was next at 3.4.  Justices Theis (1.75) and Thomas (1.67) were next, with the other Justices asking few questions of appellees.  Justice Thomas led in rebuttal when writing the majority, averaging 0.67 questions to 0.5 for Justice Theis and 0.4 for Chief Justice Karmeier.

There were very few criminal special concurrences last year, so we move on to dissents.  Once again, the same caveat: these are very small data sets.  Justice Thomas averaged five questions to appellants, 3.67 to appellees and one in rebuttal when dissenting in a criminal case.  Justice Burke asked eight questions of appellees, but none of anyone else.  Chief Justice Karmeier and Justice Garman averaged four questions – Karmeier one to appellants and three to appellees, Garman two and two.

The obvious question after establishing that the party getting more questions is likely to lose is whether individual Justices tend to more heavily question the party the majority of the Court is likely to rule against or the party that Justice him- or herself disagrees with?  When voting in the majority of an affirmance, five Justices last year more averaged more questions of the losing appellant: Thomas, Theis, Karmeier, Kilbride and Garman.  Justice Burke was the lone exception, averaging 1.5 questions to appellants and 2.5 to appellees.

Things were different with reversals, however, with only two Justices more heavily questioning losing appellees: Chief Justice Karmeier and Justice Thomas.

When individual Justices were in the minority of a criminal affirmance, five Justices more heavily questioned the appellee – the party they thought should lose – rather than the appellant: Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Theis, Thomas, Garman and Burke.

There were very few minority votes in criminal reversals last year, but the Chief Justice averaged one question to appellants and 1.5 to appellees.  Justices Garman and Thomas averaged 2 questions to appellants and two to appellees.

Over much larger databases, asking the first question of either side is often an indication – particularly for Justices who seldom lead off – that the Justice in question is writing an opinion.  Last year, Justice Thomas most often led off in criminal cases – ten for appellants, eleven for appellees and seven for rebuttals.  Justice Theis was next with six appellants, six appellees and one rebuttal, followed by Justices Garman (four, five and one) and Burke (six, two and two).  Aside from Justice Neville, who joined the Court during the year, the least frequent lead-off questioner was Justice Kilbride: zero appellants, one appellee and one rebuttal.

Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Roger W (no changes).

Is the Party Getting More Questions Likely to Lose – Criminal Cases 2018

In our last two posts, we took a close look at what the oral arguments data revealed for civil cases the Court decided last year.  Today we’ll be looking at the Court’s criminal decisions for 2018.

On the civil side, the Court’s total questions were almost evenly split between appellants and appellees.  The criminal side tells a different story.  For criminal cases decided in 2018, the Court asked 369 questions of appellants and only 290 of appellees.

That comes to an average of 14.19 questions per argument for appellants, 11.15 for appellees.

We’ve shown in many previous posts that previous scholarship about oral argument analytics – both ours and from several practitioners and academics – that in most appellate courts, the party getting the most questions is more likely to lose (weighing against the often-heard theory that questions during oral argument are “just the Court playing devil’s advocate).  So we divide up the data from last year by result.  For affirmances in criminal cases, the Court averaged 15.63 questions to appellants (the losing party) and 8.63 to appellees.

For split decisions – cases in which the Court affirmed in part and reversed or modified in part – the Court averaged 14.8 questions to appellants and 10.4 to appellees.

Although we would expect questioning of appellees to be heavier in reversals, the two sides were almost equal in 2018 – 13.08 questions to winning appellants and 13 to appellees.

Join us back here next time as we address the Justice-by-Justice data for 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ron Frazier (no changes).

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