This time, we’re reviewing the data on amicus briefs in criminal cases between 2010 and 2020.

Seven constitutional law cases drew at least one amicus brief.  Four habeas corpus cases drew at least one amicus brief.  Three juvenile justice cases drew one or more amici.  Two criminal procedure cases did.  One case each involving sentencing law and mental health issues drew at least one amicus brief.

Ten amicus briefs were filed in habeas corpus cases – only 1 supporting appellants, 9 supporting appellees.  Nine briefs were filed in constitutional law cases – six supporting appellants, only three for appellees.  Four briefs were filed in criminal procedure cases, all supporting appellants.  Three briefs were filed in juvenile justice cases – once again, all supporting appellants.  One brief each was filed in a sentencing law case and a mental health case – one for appellant in sentencing law and one for appellees in a mental health case.

Join us back here next week as we continue our review of the amicus curiae data.

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

This week, we’re concluding our review of the amicus data by areas of law, asking (1) which areas of law generated the most amicus briefs; and (2) how many amicus briefs on average per case were filed attacking the decision and supporting it?

Between 2010 and 2020, more amicus briefs were filed in tort cases than in any other area of law – 25 cases in all.  Twenty-two cases involved government and administrative law.  There were 12 civil procedure cases and 11 constitutional law cases.  Nine cases involved domestic relations issues, five each were in workers comp and tax law cases, there were four cases involving employment law and three involving insurance law.

Fifty-six amicus briefs were filed in tort cases – 33 supporting appellants and 23 appellees.  For appellant’s briefs, government and administrative law was right behind.  Thirty-two amicus briefs supported appellants and only 15 supported appellees.  In constitutional law, 30 amici supported appellants and 16 were for appellees.  Twenty-two amicus briefs were filed in civil procedure cases – 10 supporting appellants and 12 for appellees.  A dozen amicus briefs were filed in tax cases – 7 supporting appellants, 5 for appellees.  Eleven briefs (each) were filed in workers comp and domestic relations cases.  In workers comp, 7 briefs supported appellants and 4 for appellees.  In domestic relations, 5 supported appellants and 6 for appellees.  There were seven amicus briefs in cases involving employment law – four supporting appellants and three for respondents.  Three amicus briefs were filed in cases involving insurance law – all three supported appellees.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for criminal cases.

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

Last time, we looked at the data for the years 2000 through 2009 on the civil side, looking at (1) which areas of law drew the most amicus briefs; and (2) were most of the briefs filed attacking or defending the Appellate Court decision.  This time, we’re looking at the data for criminal cases across the same years.

A grand total of six criminal cases drew one or more amicus briefs during these years.  Half of them involved issues of constitutional law.  One each involved criminal procedure, juvenile issues and violent crimes.

All of the constitutional law amici were defensive – supporting Appellate Court decisions and appellees.  Criminal procedure and juvenile cases each produced one brief for the appellant, none for the appellee.  The one amicus brief filed in a violent crimes case supported appellees.

Join us back here next week as we continue our deep dive into the amicus data, looking at the years 2010 through 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by rlobes (no changes).

This week, we’re continuing our deep dive into the data on amicus briefs, looking at two questions.  First, given that Illinois only ranks midway through the list of states on the frequency of amicus briefs, what areas of law, civil and criminal, are generating amici?  And second, for those areas of law, are most amicus briefs offensive – i.e., attacking an adverse decision from the Appellate Court – or defensive, defending the Appellate Court decision?  This week, we’re reviewing the data for the years 2000 through 2009.

For the decade of the 1990s, the top area of law by a wide margin on the civil side was tort, followed by civil procedure, constitutional law, government and administrative law and insurance law.  For our second decade, tort once again led by a wide margin with 31 cases drawing at least one extra brief.  This time, government and administrative law was second with 16 cases.  Civil procedure ranked third with a dozen cases, followed by insurance law with 11.  After that, we have constitutional law 9 cases, domestic relations 5, workers compensation, tax and employment law 4 apiece, arbitration law 2 cases and elections law 1 case.

A total of 72 amicus briefs were filed in tort cases, a majority of them offensive – 45 favoring appellants and 27 for appellees.  Government and administrative law was the same – 19 briefs for appellants, only 10 favoring appellees.  Nearly three times as many amicus briefs were offensive in civil procedure cases – 17 for appellants, only 6 for appell0ees.  Interestingly, most insurance briefs were defensive – 13 favoring appellees, only 8 for appellants.  In constitutional law, there were 10 briefs for appellants and 7 for appellees.

Join us back here next time as we review the data on the criminal side (it’ll be quick – there weren’t many in this decade).

Image courtesy of Flickr by 350543 (no changes).

This time, we’re reviewing the same questions on the criminal side that we looked at yesterday on the civil: (1) what areas of law tend to draw the most amicus briefs; and (2) in those areas, do amicus briefs tend to be offensive (filed on behalf of appellants) or defensive (filed in support of appellees)?  This week, we’re reviewing the data for the 1990s.

As we saw a couple of weeks ago, amicus briefs are quite rare on the criminal side in Illinois.  For the decade – not surprisingly – constitutional law was far and away the most frequent area for amicus filings, with nine cases.  Three criminal procedure cases drew amicus briefs.  There were two cases involving habeas corpus and one each involving property crimes, mental health issues and sentencing law.

Constitutional law filings were predominantly offensive – seven supporting appellants, four briefs supporting appellees.  In criminal procedure, there were two for appellants and one for appellees.  For the remaining issues, all the amicus briefs during the 1990s supported appellees – habeas corpus (2 briefs), property crimes (2 briefs), mental health issues and sentencing law (1 brief each).

Join us back here next Tuesday and we’ll review the data for the years 2000 through 2009.

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

This week, we’re digging deeper on the data on for amicus briefs.  We’re asking two questions: (1) what areas of law have led to amicus brief filings; and (2) in those areas, are more briefs filed for appellants and appellees?  This will shed some light on several questions.  First, given that Illinois is roughly in the middle of the pack as far as frequency of amicus filings, what areas of law – both civil and criminal – spark filings in this state?  And second, are more amicus briefs offensive – attacking Appellate Court decisions the filers don’t like – or defensive – defending those decisions?

First, we review the raw data for number of cases in which at least one amicus brief was filed.  Like most of the low-to-moderate-filings states, the most frequent area of civil law for amicus filings is tort by a significant margin.  Between 1990 and 1999, 41 tort cases saw at least one amicus brief.  Second was civil procedure at 13 cases.  Twelve constitutional law cases saw at least one amicus.  Below that, 7 government/administrative law cases saw an amicus, 6 insurance cases, 5 workers comp, 4 domestic relations and 2 each from environmental law, employment law and election law.

Next, we review the distribution of amicus briefs between appellants and appellees for these areas of law.  In tort law, most amicus briefs during the 1990s were filed for appellants – 54 to 30 for the decade.  Civil procedure, constitutional law and government/administrative law were reasonably closely divided, but it appears that insurance law briefs during these years were for the most part defensive filings – a dozen for appellants, but eighteen for appellees.  Workers comp briefs split eight to one, appellants over appellees.  Domestic relations, environmental law and employment law each saw nothing but briefs for appellants – six in domestic relations, four in environmental law and two in employment law.  Finally, election law saw two briefs for appellants, two for appellees.

Join us back here tomorrow as we continue our review of the amicus data by area of law.

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

Today, we’re looking at the amicus filing data on criminal cases for the years 2005 through 2020.

Just as in our earlier period, amicus briefs were few and far between in criminal cases.  None were filed in 2005, 2007-2008, 2010 or 2016.  Four percent had extra briefs in 2006.  That rose to six percent in 2011 and a bit higher the following year (to 6.06%), but fell for several years after that.  In 2017, 21.43% of criminal cases drew at least one amicus brief.  That fell to 7.69% in 2018 and 4.76% in 2019, but rose a bit to 10.71% last year.

In addition to the years listed above for which no amicus briefs were filed for either side, appellants got no extra briefs in 2009 and 2014-2015.  They averaged 0.06 briefs in 2011 and 0.03 additional briefs a year later.  Briefs exploded in 2017, and the average per case for appellants was up to 0.5, but that adjusted the year following to 0.04 in 2018, 0.05 in 2019 and 0.04 in 2020.

In addition to the years listed above of no briefs at all, there were no amicus briefs supporting appellees in 2011, 2013, 2017 or 2019.  Appellees averaged 0.04 additional briefs in 2006 and 0.06 in 2012.  There was a one-year spike in 2014 to 0.21 briefs per case, but the number settled back to trend level after that – 0.03 in 2015, 0.04 in 2018 and 0.07 in 2020.

Join us back here next week as we continue our exploration of amicus filing trends.

Image courtesy of Pixabay by 350543 (no changes).

When we left off our study, one-third of the Supreme Court’s civil cases were drawing at least one amicus brief.  In 2005, 27.08% of civil cases did.  That figure rose to 34.69% in 2006 before falling by nearly half but rose back to 31.58% in 2011 and 32.35% in 2013.  In 2017, 61.54% of the Court’s civil cases had at least one amicus brief.  In 2018, 27.27% did.  In 2019, 41.18% did, and the share was 37.5% in 2020.

Appellants averaged one-third of an amicus brief per case in 2005.  After a one-year spike in 2006, that fell to 0.1463 in 2007 before rising to 0.3636 in 2010.  By 2012, appellants were averaging 0.425 briefs per case.  After a small dip, that rose to 0.4545 in 2015, 0.6154 in 2017 and 0.7647 in 2019.

As usual, there were fewer amicus briefs filed in support of appellees.  In 2005, appellees averaged 0.1875 briefs per case.  That increased to 0.3939 by 2010 and stayed around that level for three more years before falling back in the three years following.  In 2017, 0.3846 briefs per appellee were filed.  After a one-year dip, that rose to nearly the same level – 0.3824 briefs per case in 2019, before settling to 0.25 in 2020.

Join us tomorrow as we review the data for the same years in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Curtis Abert (no changes).

 

Just as we did for civil cases in the last post, we begin by addressing the percentage of criminal cases which drew at least one amicus brief for the years 1990 through 2004.

As we see in Table 1744, the answer is: not many.  In 1990, only 2.9% of criminal cases drew at least one extra brief.  That rose to 4.62% in 1994 and 5.56% in 1996 but fell back to 13.89% in 1998.  There were no criminal amicus briefs at all filed between 2000 and 2003.  In 2004, 3.23% of criminal cases had at least one amicus brief.

Not surprisingly, the numbers per party are low as well.  In 1990, appellants averaged 0.014 briefs per case.  That rose to 0.056 by 1996 but fell back to 0.016 in 1997 and zero the following year.  In 1999, appellants averaged 0.019 briefs per case.  In 2004, the average was 0.016.

Criminal appellees averaged 0.014 briefs per case in 1990 before logging zero in 1992 and 1993.  The number rose to 0.025 in 1995 before dropping back to zero in 1996 and 1997.  It hit a high of 0.038 briefs per case in 1999, before returning to zero for the years 2000 through 2003 and ticking up slightly to 0.016 in 2004.

Join us back here next week as we address the yearly data for the years 2005 through 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Joseph Gage (no changes).

In the past twenty years, several academic researchers have extended the study of amicus briefs to state courts of last resort.  In 2001, Professors Paul Brace and Kellie Sims Butler published “New Perspectives for the Comparative Study of the Judiciary: The State Supreme Court Project,” 22 The Justice System Journal 3 (2001).  They assembled data for amicus filings in all fifty state courts of last resort for all cases decided between the years 1990 and 2001.  They concluded that in a total of nineteen states (Arkansas, South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Arkansas, South Carolina, Maine, Nevada, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina), less that 5% of their total cases resulted in amicus briefs.  On the other hand, in five states (Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey and California), 25% or more of all cases resulted in amicus briefs.

We begin our study of the Illinois data by replicating the same numbers year by year for the first half of our study period, 1990-2004.  One caveat to our study before we begin.  As I’ve pointed out before, since Illinois’ Supreme Court docket is not online and the coverage of amicus briefs in the commercial research vendors is incomplete, we must rely on the Supreme Court’s statement in the body of its opinions that certain amicus briefs were filed on each side.

In Table 1741, we plot the percentage of the Court’s civil cases each year that drew at least one amicus brief.  The percentage started at 10.99% in 1990 before peaking at 21.82% in 1996.  After a drop in the years immediately following that, it climbed steadily to 21.74% in 2003 and one-third in 2004.  For the years 1990 through 2001, we’ve identified 104 of 1,515 total cases (civil and criminal) in which at least one amicus brief was filed – 6.86% of the total.

Next, we plot the yearly average number of amicus briefs filed for appellants in civil cases.  Broadly speaking, the data follows the same pattern we found above – bottoming out in 1993 (0.0789) and 1994 (0.0667) and peaking in 1996 (0.2545) before rising back to 0.28 briefs per case in 2003 and 0.4444 in 2004.

Finally, we turn to the data for appellees.  Appellee amicus briefs are substantially flatter: 0.099 per case in 1990, dropping all the way to 0.0267 in 1994, rising slightly in 1996 and 1997 before abruptly spiking in 2004 to 0.352 briefs per case.

The bottom line?  Although our numbers differ somewhat from previous researchers, we agree about one thing – amicus briefs were comparatively rare in the Illinois Supreme Court during this era.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Brian Crawford (no changes).