How Many Death Penalty Cases Did the Court Decide a Year?

Yesterday, we reviewed the Court’s year by year caseload of tort cases.  Today, we’re looking at the Court’s death penalty cases.

The Court decided fifteen death penalty cases in 1990, thirteen cases in 1991, twenty-three cases in 1992, thirteen cases in 1993, seventeen cases in 1994, eighteen cases in 1995 and twenty cases in 1996.

The Court decided fourteen death penalty cases in 1997, nineteen cases in 1998, six cases in 1999, seventeen cases in 2000, seven cases in 2001, five cases in 2002 and three cases in 2003.

The Court decided two death penalty cases per year in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.  The Court decided one death penalty case in 2008, three cases in 2009 and four cases in 2010.

The death penalty was abolished in Illinois effective July 1, 2011, and Governor Quinn commuted the death sentences of the fifteen inmates then on Illinois’ death row to life imprisonment.  Thus, the Court has heard no mandatory death penalty appeals since 2010.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ben Sutherland (no changes).

How Many Tort Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

For the past two weeks, we’ve taken a close look at the Court’s experience with civil and criminal procedure cases (both here and at our sister blog, the California Supreme Court Review.)  This week, we’re reviewing the Court’s tort cases and death penalty decisions.

For the entire period from 1990 to 2017, the Court has decided 335 tort cases.  The Court decided twenty tort cases in 1990, sixteen in 1991, twenty-eight in 1992, twelve in 1993, fifteen cases in 1994, twenty-one in 1995 and fifteen cases in 1996.

The Court decided seventeen tort cases in 1997 and seventeen more in 1998.  The Court decided thirteen tort cases in 1999, ten in 2000, nine in 2001, seventeen cases in 2002 and nine cases in 2003.

The Court decided thirteen tort cases in 2004, six in 2005, twelve in 2006, seven in 2007, fourteen in 2008, eight in 2009 and nine cases in 2010.

The Court decided twelve tort cases in 2011 and ten in 2012.  The Court had no tort cases in 2013.  The Court decided five cases in 2014, seven in 2015, six cases in 2016 and seven cases in 2017.

Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s death penalty docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Giuseppe Milo (no changes).

What Kind of Criminal Procedure Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear?

Yesterday, we took a detailed look at the Court’s civil procedure decisions.  Today, we’re taking a look at the Court’s criminal procedure cases.

In 1990, the Court affirmed 6 prosecution wins in criminal procedure cases.  The Court affirmed 3 times in 1991, twice in 1993 and 1994, 1 time in 1995, 2 in 1996, five per year in 1997 and 1998, 3 times in 1999 and 1 time in 2000.  The Court affirmed 2 prosecution wins in 2001, 1 in 2002, 5 in 2003, 3 in 2004, 5 in 2005, 8 in 2006, two in 2007, 9 in 2009 and 4 in 2010.  The Court affirmed 2 prosecution wins in criminal procedure cases in 2011, 3 in 2012, 2 in 2013, 3 in both 2014 and 2015, 2 in 2016, and four times in 2017.

The Court reversed twice in prosecution wins involving criminal procedure in 1990.  The Court had one reversal in 1991, 2 in 1992 and 1994, 1 in 1995, 3 in 1996, 2 in 1997, 1 in 1998, 5 in 1999 and 1 in 2000.  The Court reversed 4 times in 2001, twice in 2002, 3 times in 2003, twice in 2004, 1 in 2005, 4 times in 2006, 3 times in 2007, 5 times in 2009 and once in 2010.  The Court reversed 3 times in 2011, once in 2012, 2 times in 2013, once in 2014 and 2016, and 5 times in 2017.

We review the Court’s record with defendants’ wins from the Court of Appeal in Table 726 below.  The Court affirmed 3 times in 1990, 6 in 1991, 3 in 1992, 2 in 1993, 4 in 1994, 2 in 1995, 3 in 1997, 1 in 1998, 2 in 1999 and 5 in 2000.  The Court affirmed 1 defendant’s win per year in 2001, 2002 and 2004, 5 in 2005 and 3 in 2006 and 2009.  The Court affirmed 1 defendant’s win per year in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2 wins a year in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The Court reversed 7 defendants’ wins in 1990.  The Court reversed 6 defendants’ wins in 1991, 4 in 1992, 3 in 1993, 5 in 1994, 4 in 1995, 1 in 1996, 3 in 1997, 4 in 1999 and 2 in 2000.  The Court reversed 2 defendants’ wins in 2001, 4 in 2002, 5 in 2003, 6 in 2004 and 2006, 2 in 2007, 7 in 2009 and 9 in 2010.  The Court reversed 6 defendants’ wins in 2011, 3 in 2012, 4 in 2013, 3 in 2014, 4 in 2015, 2 in 2016 and 3 in 2017.

Curiously, the Court has reversed almost exactly as often in criminal procedure and civil procedure cases since 1990 – 55.37% (150 reversals in whole or in part of 307 cases) in criminal procedure cases, 55.19% in civil procedure cases.

Between 1990 and 2000, the Court reversed in 51.67% of its criminal procedure cases.  The Court reversed in 57.02% of its 121 criminal procedure cases between 2001 and 2010.  Between 2011 and 2017, the Court reversed 59.09% of the criminal procedure cases it decided.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new issue.

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

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new issue.

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

What Kind of Civil Procedure Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear?

Last week, we tracked the Supreme Court’s year-by-year record with civil and criminal procedure cases.  This week, we’re taking a deeper look to address several questions: (1) did the Court tend to take more defendants’ or plaintiffs’ wins from the Appellate Court? (2) did the Court reverse either defense or plaintiffs’ wins at a higher rate? and (3) overall, did the Court reverse civil and criminal procedure cases at a higher rate than the rest of the docket?

In Table 719, we report the Court’s yearly total of defense wins affirmed in civil procedure cases.  The Court affirmed five defense wins in 1990, three in 1992, two in 1993, two in 1995, three in 1996, four in 1997,  three in 1998 and two in 1999.  The Court affirmed five defense wins in 2001, one per year in 2002 and 2004, three in 2005 and one per year in 2008 and 2009.  The Court affirmed one defense win in 2011, three in 2012, one in 2013, three in 2014 and one in 2015.

In Table 720, we review the defendants’ wins in civil procedure cases which the Court reversed.  The Court reversed twice in 1990, four times a year in 1991 and 1992, twice in 1993, five times in 1994, four times in 1995, once in 1996, three times in 1997 and once in 1998 and 2000.  The Court reversed once in 2001, three times in 2002, twice in 2003, once a year in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, twice in 2008 and once in 2009.  The Court reversed three times in 2012, once each in 2013 and 2014 and twice in 2015.

In Table 721, we report the yearly total of plaintiffs’ wins in civil procedure cases which were affirmed by the Court.  The Court affirmed three plaintiffs’ wins in 1990, one in 1991, three in 1992 and 1993, nine in 1994, three in 1995, one in 1996, two in 1997, three in 1998, one in 1999 and two in 2000.  The Court affirmed once in 2001 and 2002, twice in 2003, once in 2004 and 2005, three times in 2006 and once per year in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  The Court affirmed two plaintiffs’ wins in 2012, one in 2013, three in 2015 and two in 2016.

We report plaintiffs’ wins reversed in Table 722.  The Court reversed six times in 1990, eight in 1991, five in 1992, once in 1993, four times in 1994, twice in 1995 and 1996, three times in 1997, four times in 1998, once in 1999 and twice in 2000.  The Court reversed three times in 2001, twice in 2002, three times in 2003, once in 2005, twice in 2006, four times in 2007 and twice each in 2009 and 2010.  The Court reversed once in 2011 and four times in 2012 and 2015.

We review the yearly reversal rates for the civil procedure docket in Table 723.  For the entire period 1990 through 2017, the Court has reversed in 117 of 212 civil procedure cases, for an overall reversal rate of 55.19% – about where the Court has been with the rest of the docket.  The Court reversed 54.76% of the time in civil procedure cases from 1990 to 1995.  The Court reversed in only 48.72% of civil procedure cases from 1996 to 2000, but reversed 51.52% of the civil procedure cases it decided between 2001 and 2005.  The reversal rate jumped to 73.91% from 2006 to 2010, but the Court’s reversal rate from 2011 to 2017 reverted to pattern – 54.55%.

Join us back here tomorrow as we look at the Court’s criminal procedure decisions.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bill Taroli (no changes).

How Many Criminal Procedure Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

Yesterday, we began our analysis of the Court’s procedural cases with a review of the year-by-year data on the Court’s civil procedure cases.  Today, we’re looking at the Court’s criminal procedure cases.  For the entire period 1990-2017, the Court has decided a total of 307 cases whose primary issue involved criminal procedure.

The Court decided nineteen criminal procedure cases in 1990.  The Court decided 16 cases in 1991, 9 in 1992, 7 in 1993, 13 in 1994, 8 in 1995 and 6 in 1996.

The Court decided twelve criminal procedure cases in 1997, 7 in 1998, 14 in 1999, 9 per year in 2000 and 2001, 8 in 2002 and 13 in 2003.

In 2004, the Court decided 13 criminal procedure cases.  The Court decided 11 cases in 2005, 21 in 2006 and 8 in 2007.  The Court had no criminal procedure cases in 2008, but decided 25 cases in 2009 and 14 in 2010.

In 2011, the Court decided 12 cases involving criminal procedure issues.  The Court decided 8 cases in 2012, 9 per year in 2013, 2014 and 2015, 7 cases in 2016 and a final dozen cases in 2017.

Join us back here next week as we continue our analysis of the Court’s civil and criminal procedure decisions.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Marco Verch (no changes).

How Many Civil Procedure Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

For the past two weeks, we’ve been taking a detailed look at the Court’s constitutional law decisions, both on the civil and criminal sides of the docket.  This week and next, we’ll be looking at the Court’s procedure cases – decisions that turn on civil and criminal procedure issues.  So first – how many civil procedure cases does the Court hear and decide each year?

Between 1990 and 2017, the Court decided 211 cases primarily involving civil procedure issues.  We review the data for the years 1990 through 1996 in Table 711.  The Court decided eighteen cases in 1990, thirteen in 1991, fifteen in 1992, eight in 1993, nineteen in 1994, eleven in 1995 and seven in 1996.

In 1997, the Court decided a dozen civil procedure cases.  In 1998, the Court decided eleven cases, four in 1999, five in 2000, nine in 2001, seven in 2002 and seven more in 2003.

The Court decided four civil procedure cases in 2004, six each year in 2005, 2006 and 2007, four in 2008, five in 2009 and two in 2010.

In 2011, the Court decided two civil procedure cases.  The Court decided a dozen cases in 2012, three in 2013, four in 2014, ten in 2015, two in 2016 and zero last year.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the Court’s criminal procedure cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Roman Boed (no changes).

What Kind of Constitutional Law Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear in the Criminal Docket?

This week, we’re continuing our review of the Court’s constitutional law docket by asking (1) how much of the Court’s docket consists of cases won below by one side or the other; (2) whether the Court has a significantly higher (or lower) reversal rate depending on who won below; and (3) whether the Court tends to reverse more or less often in constitutional law cases than it does in other cases.  Today, we’re looking at the Court’s criminal law docket.  The coding terms conservative and liberal track the two sides much more easily in criminal law than they do in civil law – a defendant’s win is coded as a liberal decision, and a prosecution win is coded as a conservative one.

Not surprisingly, the Court is far more likely to review an Appellate Court win by a criminal defendant than it is a win by the prosecution – 65.3% of the Court’s criminal constitutional law cases since 1990 were won by the defendant below.  Also not surprisingly, the moderate Illinois Supreme Court is far more likely to reverse a criminal defendant’s win from the Appellate Court than it is a win for the prosecution – it’s reversed 64.02% of the defense wins it’s heard since 1990, but only 33.07% of the prosecution wins.

In Table 707, we report the eighty-five cases in which the Court has affirmed a prosecution win in a constitutional law case.  The Court did so once each in 1990 and 1991, twice in 1992, four times in 1993, three in 1994 and six in 1995.  The Court affirmed two prosecution wins a year in 1997 and 1998, four in 1999, three in 2000, eight in 2001 and two per year from 2002 to 2004.  The Court affirmed six prosecution wins in 2005, three in 2006, one in 2007, seven in 2008, one in 2009, six in 2010, two per year in 2011 and 2012.  Finally, the Court affirmed four prosecution wins in 2013, five in 2014, one each in 2015 and 2016 and four in 2017.

In Table 708, we review the yearly data for the much rarer event – reversal of a prosecution win in a criminal constitutional law case.  The Court reversed twice in 1990, once in 1991, four times in 1992, once in 1993, twice in 1994, once in 1996, three times in 1997, five times in 1998, once in 1999 and four times in 2000.  The Court reversed twice in 2001, once in 2002, twice each in 2003 and 2004, once in 2007, twice in 2008 and once in 2009.  The Court reversed two prosecution wins a year in 2012, 2013 and 2015, and one in 2016.

In Table 709, we review the yearly data for defense wins in criminal constitutional law cases which were affirmed at the Court.  Over the entire twenty-eight years, affirmance of defense wins was almost exactly as common as affirmance of prosecution wins – 86 to 85 (this doesn’t mean the two sides were equally likely to get reversed – there are nearly four times as many defense reversals as prosecution reversals).  In 1990, the Court affirmed three defense wins, it affirmed twice in 1991, three times in 1992, once in 1993, four times in 1994, once in 1995, four times in 1996, three times in 1997, five times in 1998, seven times in 1999 and twice in 2000.  The Court affirmed one decision in 2001, twelve in 2002, sixteen in 2003, four in 2004, two in 2005, one in 2006, three in 2008 and two in 2009.  Since 2009, affirmances of defense wins have been comparatively uncommon – there were two in 2011, one in 2012, three in 2014, one each in 2015 and 2016 and two in 2017.

Next, we review the 153 cases reversing a defense win.  The Court reversed eight times in 1990, four in 1991, twelve times in 1992 and 1994, four times in 1993, seven in 1995, five in 1996, two in 1997, seven in 1998, three in 1999 and four in 2000.  The Court reversed three times each in 2001 and 2002, six times in 2003, eight times in 2004, ten times in 2005, nine in 2006, five in 2007, six in 2008, three in 2009 and five in 2010.  The Court reversed twice per year in 2011 and 2012, three times in 2013, once in 2014, eight times in 2015, seven in 2016 and four in 2017.

Overall, the Court’s reversal rate in criminal constitutional law cases is roughly comparable to what it is in the docket as a whole.  Since 1990, the Court has reversed in 45.5% of its criminal con law cases, and has reversed in part in just short of another ten percent, for an overall reversal rate of 55.04%.  Looking at the yearly data, the Court reversed 74.4% of the cases between 1990 and 1992.  From 1994, when the Court shifted its ideological balance from five Democrats in the seven seats to only four, through 1997, the Court’s reversal rate was in line with its totals for the period, as the Court reversed in 58.93% of criminal constitutional law cases.

But then, things shifted for several years.  Between 1998 and 2005, the Court was noticeably less likely to reverse in a criminal constitutional law case than the rest of the criminal docket: it reversed in only 45% of 140 cases.   The Court reversed in whole or in part in ten of thirteen cases in 2006, and six of seven in 2007.  But from 2008 through 2011, the Court reversed in only 45.24% of cases.  The Court reversed in four of seven cases in 2012 and six of nine in 2013, but in only one of nine in 2014.  The Court reversed in whole or in part in all eleven constitutional law cases it decided in 2015, and reversed outright in eight of ten in 2016, but reversed in only four of ten in 2017.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we continue our exploration of the constitutional law caseload.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Discosour (no changes).

What Kind of Constitutional Law Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear in the Civil Docket?

Last week, we tracked the number of constitutional law cases on the civil side of the Court’s docket, year by year since 1990.  This week, we’re looking deeper at the data.  What kind of constitutional law cases has the Court tended to take, and has the Court tended to reverse more regularly, depending on who won the case below?

We code all the Court’s cases as conservative or liberal decisions, both at the Appellate Court and the Supreme Court.  Unlike criminal law, this doesn’t lend itself directly to dividing the cases as decisions for the plaintiffs or defendants.  For example, a decision for a plaintiff challenging a government regulation or program as a taking would be coded as a conservative result, while a decision for a plaintiff challenging the constitutionality of a consent statute for blood tests for drivers would be coded as a liberal result.

In Table 702, we report the Court’s yearly number of civil constitutional law cases in which the Court affirmed a conservative result.  For the entire period, the Court reviewed seventy-five conservative Appellate Court decisions in civil law and eighty-one liberal decisions.  The Court reversed forty-eight percent of the conservative civil con law decisions it reviewed for the entire period, but 61.73% of liberal civil con law decisions.  The Court affirmed one conservative civil law decision in 1990, five in 1992, two in 1994, one each in 1995 and 1997, three each in 1996 and 1998, two each in 2001 and 2003, one each in 2002 and 2004, three in 2005, two in 2006, three in 2008 and 2010, one per year in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and three cases in 2014.

In Table 703, we report the yearly reversals of conservative constitutional law decisions on the civil side.  The Court reversed three times in 1990, once per year from 1991 to 1993, three times in 1004, twice in 1995, three times in 1996, once in 1997 and three times each in 1998 and 1999.  The Court reversed once each in 2000 and 2001, twice in 2002, once in 2004 and 2007, twice per year in 2008 and 2009, once in 2014, twice in 2015 and once each in 2016 and 2017.

In Table 704 and 705, we review the data on the Court’s review of liberal Appellate Court decisions.  The Court affirmed two liberal decisions per year in 1990, 1992 and 1994, one in 1993 and 1995, three in 1996, six in 1997, two per year in 2003 and 2004, one per year in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2015, and four in 2016.

In Table 705, we review the yearly data on reversals of liberal Appellate Court decisions in civil constitutional law cases.  The Court reversed four times in 1990, once in 1991, three in 1992, once in 1993, 1994 and 1995, five times in 1996, once in 1997, five times in 1998, three times in 1999 and 2001, once in 2002 and 2003, three times in 2004 and 2005, twice in 2006, three times in 2008, once per year from 2010 through 2013, twice in 2015, once in 2016 and twice in 2017.

In Table 706, we reorganize the data to look at the overall reversal rate in civil constitutional law cases (note that the number of cases here doesn’t always match the numbers above because of cases which reached the Supreme Court without an Appellate Court decision, such as petitions and certified questions).  The Court has decided 162 civil cases since 1990 primarily involving constitutional law questions.  It has reversed entirely in 78 of those cases and reversed in part in another 20, for a reversal rate of 60.49% – several points higher than the Court’s typical reversal rate in the docket as a whole.  As the data shows, in many years, the Court has generally taken civil constitutional law decisions in order to reverse them.  For example, in 1990 and 1991, the Court reversed in 12 of 15 cases – over 80%.  The reversal rate dropped from 1992 through 1997, but ticked up again for several years after.  The Court reversed ten of fourteen decisions in 1998, all seven cases it heard in 1999 and 2000 and eight of ten cases in heard in 2001 and 2002.

The Court reversed constitutional law decisions at a somewhat slower clip than the rest of the civil docket from 2003 to 2012, reversing only 51.11% of the time.  Since that time, the Court has reversed in whole or in part in twelve of twenty-one civil constitutional law cases, a reversal rate of 57.14%.

Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s constitutional law cases on the criminal side of the docket.

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

Constitutional Law at the Court, Part 2 – How Many Criminal Con Law Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

Yesterday, we began our detailed look at the most common area of law on the Court’s civil and criminal dockets (and the area of law most frequently identified with courts of law resort) – constitutional law.  Today, we’re beginning our review of the Court’s constitutional law cases on the criminal docket side.

In 1990, the Court decided fourteen constitutional law cases on the criminal law side.  In 1991, the Court decided only eight con law cases, but in 1992 and 1994, the Court decided twenty-one cases per year.  In 1993, the Court decided ten constitutional law cases.  In 1995, the Court decided thirteen constitutional law cases.  In 1996, the Court decided nine cases.

Constitutional law cases were up somewhat on the criminal law side of the docket in the next seven years.  The Court decided ten cases in 1997, nineteen in 1998, fifteen cases in 1999, thirteen in 2000, fourteen in 2001 and eighteen cases in 2002.  In 2003, the Court’s caseload in criminal law rose to twenty-six cases.

The Court’s constitutional law caseload edged downwards a bit between 2004 and 2010.  The Court decided sixteen cases in 2004, nineteen in 2005, thirteen in 2006, seven cases in 2007, eighteen in 2008, seven in 2009 and eleven in 2010.

Constitutional law cases have remained a bit lower over the past seven years.  The Court decided six con law cases in the criminal docket in 2011, seven in 2012, nine each in 2013 and 2014, eleven cases in 2015 and ten per year in 2016 and 2017.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we continue our analysis of the Court’s experience with constitutional law.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Marco Verch (no changes).

Constitutional Law at the Court, Part 1 – How Many Civil Con Law Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

This week, we’re beginning an intensive look at the Court’s cases, divided by subject matter.  Many people – especially non-lawyers – think of courts of last resort primarily in terms of constitutional law decisions.  So let’s start there – the Illinois Supreme Court’s past twenty-seven years with constitutional law in both civil and criminal law.

In 1990, the Court decided thirteen cases whose primary issue was constitutional law.  The Court decided only two con law cases in 1991, but eleven in 1992.  In the four years that followed, the Court’s con law case load moved up and down: three cases in 1993, eight in 1994, five in 1995 and fourteen cases in 1996.

The Court’s civil con law caseload remained at the same level for the seven years that followed.  In 1997, the Court decided nine civil con law cases.  The Court decided thirteen cases, in 1998 and six in 1999, but only one in 2000.  The Court decided six constitutional law cases on the civil side in 2001, four in 2002 and five in 2003.

The Court decided seven civil cases primarily involving constitutional law in both 2004 and 2005.  In 2006, the Court decided five con law cases.  In 2007, the Court decided only two civil con law cases.  The Court decided eight con law cases in 2008, two in 2009 and five in 2010.

Constitutional law cases have been slightly lower on the civil side in the past seven years.  The Court decided two civil constitutional law cases per year in 2011 and 2012.  The Court decided three cases in 2013, four in 2014, five in 2015, six in 2016 and three in 2017.

Join us tomorrow as we begin our review of the Court’s constitutional law decisions over the past quarter-century on the criminal law side of the docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tony Webster (no changes).

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