Who Wrote the Longest Majority Opinions in Civil Cases (Part 1)?

For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking for insights into the Court’s decision-making processes by reviewing the data for the length of the Court’s opinions.  This week and next, we’re looking at a related question: which Justices tended to write the longest and shortest majority opinions.  This week, the civil side.  We’ll take the question in two steps: first, who wrote the most and fewest majorities year by year, so we can identify the deceptive averages which are based on fewer total opinions.  Keep in mind, these numbers can be influenced by several different factors: the desire to equalize the chambers’ workloads, individual Justices’ seniority, and how often a Justice is actually in the majority (after all, a Justice can hardly be assigned the majority opinion when she or he is voting in the minority).  Then, we’ll look at average length.

In Table 971, we report the data for majority opinions in civil cases written by each Justice from 1990 to 1997.  In 1990, the most prolific writer was Justice Miller with sixteen civil opinions, the least was Chief Justice Moran was 5.  In 1991, the highest number was Chief Justice Moran and Justice Clark with ten each, and the lowest was Justice Calvo, who passed away in June, having written only one civil majority that year.  In 1992, the highest load of civil majorities was by Justice Cunningham with sixteen.  The lowest was Chief Justice Miller.  In 1993, Justices Freeman and Heiple wrote nine civil majorities while Chief Justice Miller wrote three.  In 1994, Justice Nickels led with fourteen majority opinions, while Chief Justice Miller – who was replaced as Chief by Justice Bilandic in the fall – wrote seven.  In 1995, Justice McMorrow led with eleven civil majorities to five written by Justice Nickels.  In 1996, Chief Justice Bilandic led with ten majorities opinions to five for Justice Miller.  In 1997, Justice Freeman, who replaced Justice Bilandic as Chief Justice in the fall, and Justice Heiple led with eleven civil majorities each, and Justice Nickels wrote the fewest with five.

In Table 972, we review the yearly data for the years 1998 through 2004.  In 1998, Justice Ward led, writing fourteen civil majorities.  Justices Bilandic and Harrison wrote eight apiece.  The following year, Justice Bilandic led with eight majority opinions, Justice Harrison wrote four.  In 2000, Justices Bilandic, Harrison and Miller wrote seven civil majorities each, and Chief Justice Freeman, who was succeeded in that post in the fall by Justice Harrison, wrote three.  In 2001, Justice McMorrow wrote eleven majority opinions while Justice Kilbride wrote two.  In 2002, Justice Kilbride led the Court, writing ten majority opinions in civil cases, while Chief Justice Harrison wrote four.  In 2003, Justices Freeman and Kilbride led with eight majority opinions, while Justice Fitzgerald wrote four.  In 2004, Justices Fitzgerald and Rarick wrote nine majority opinions apiece, while Chief Justice McMorrow and Justice Thomas wrote five each.

In Table 973, we review the overall data for the period – who was the most prolific writer?  During these years, Justice Freeman most often wrote for the Court in civil cases, with 112 majority opinions.   Justices Bilandic, McMorrow, Heiple and Miller were next, writing 89, 89, 87 and 87 majorities, respectively.  Justice Harrison was next with sixty-five majority opinions.

In Table 974, we review the yearly data for the years 2005 to 2011.  In 2005, Justice Garman led with nine civil opinions, while Justice Fitzgerald wrote four.  In 2006, Justices Fitzgerald and Karmeier wrote ten majority opinions in civil cases to four for Justice Kilbride and Justice Burke, appointed in mid-year, wrote one.  In 2007, Justice Fitzgerald wrote nine majority opinions, while Chief Justice Thomas and Justices Garman, Karmeier and Kilbride wrote four each.  In 2008, Justice Freeman led with eight majority opinion, and Justice Karmeier wrote four.  In 2009, Justice Garman led with eight majorities and Justice Thomas wrote three.  In 2010, Justice Karmeier led with eight majority opinions to two for Justice Kilbride.  In 2011, Justices Thomas and Burke wrote seven majority opinions each.  Chief Justice Kilbride wrote one.

In 2012, Justice Freeman led with seven civil majorities.  Chief Justice Kilbride wrote four.  In 2013, Justices Burke and Karmeier wrote seven majorities, while Chief Justice Kilbride and Justice Freeman wrote two.   In 2014, Justice Burke wrote six majorities, while Justices Kilbride, Freeman and Karmeier wrote three apiece.  In 2015, Justice Karmeier wrote nine civil majority opinions, and Chief Justice Garman wrote three.  In 2016, Justices Freeman, Kilbride and Theis wrote five majority opinions apiece, while Chief Justice Garman wrote two.  In 2017, Justices Burke led with six majority opinions, while Justices Freeman and Kilbride wrote one apiece.  Last year, Justice Thomas wrote five majority opinions, while Justice Theis wrote one.

In Table 976, we report the overall data for the years 2005 through 2018.  Justice Karmeier is narrowly the most prolific author for the Court in civil cases with seventy-seven.  Justice Thomas wrote seventy-five, Justice Garman seventy and Justice Burke has written sixty-nine.  Justice Neville, who joined the Court in 2018, wrote two majority opinions in civil cases before the end of the year.  Former Chief Justice Fitzgerald wrote thirty-nine and his successor, Justice Theis, has written thirty-eight.

Join us back here tomorrow as we take the second step in our analysis – who wrote the longest majority opinions?

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

 

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Criminal Cases (2004-2018)?

Yesterday, we showed that in contrast to our result in civil cases, when majority opinions reversing tended most years to be longer than majority opinions affirming, the opposite was generally true in criminal cases – between 1990 and 2003, affirmances were longer.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 to 2018.

In 2004, reversals were longer – 15.65 pages to 14.8.  In 2005, affirmances were narrowly longer, 17.13 to 17.12 pages.  In 2006, affirmances were 21.38 pages to 17.15 pages for reversals.  In 2007, affirmances averaged 25.5 pages and reversals averaged 17.75 pages.  In 2008, reversals were longer – 16.58 pages to 14.76.  In 2009, reversals averaged 18.12 pages to 16.48 for affirmances.  IN 2010, affirmances averaged 18.63 pages and reversals averaged 14.76.

In 2011, affirmances averaged 15.67 pages to 11.42 for reversals.  In 2012, affirmances averaged 14.27 pages.  Reversals were 9.47 pages.  IN 2013, reversals averaged 10.74 pages.  Affirmances averaged 9.8 pages.  In 2014, reversals averaged 12.07 pages and affirmances were 9.85.  In 2015, reversals averaged 9.39 pages and affirmances averaged 8.7 pages.  In 2016, affirmances averaged 12.83 pages and reversals averaged 9.87 pages.  In 2017, affirmances averaged 17.69 pages and reversals were 17.06 pages.  Last year, affirmances averaged 18 pages and reversals averaged 14.22.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn to a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Heather Paul (no changes).

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Criminal Cases (1990-2003)?

Last time, we took our first look at a new question: do majority opinions in civil cases tend to be longer when the Court reverses than when it affirms?  The answer, for a substantial majority of years, was yes.  So today and tomorrow, we’re looking at the flipside: are reversals longer in criminal cases too?  The surprising answer is an emphatic “no.”

Between 1990 and 1996, reversals in criminal cases had longer majority opinions than affirmances only twice. In 1990, reversals averaged 26.82 pages, while affirmances were, on average, 24.72 pages.  In 1991, affirmances were 26.76 pages, while reversals averaged only 18.29 pages.  In 1992, affirmances averaged 30.34 pages, while reversals were 23.12 pages.  In 1993, affirmances averaged 26.19 pages, while reversals averaged 17.63 pages.  In 1994, reversals averaged 21.26 pages and affirmances averaged 20.84 pages.  In 1995, affirmances averaged 25.51 pages.  Reversals that year averaged 16.89 pages.  In 1996, affirmances were 26.4 pages to 25.82 for reversals.

Between 1997 and 2003, reversals were longer than affirmances in only one of seven years.  In 1997, affirmances averaged 16.18 pages to 16.17 pages for reversals.  In 1998, affirmances were 19.91 pages.  Reversals averaged 16.79 pages.  In 1999, affirmances averaged 15.78 pages and reversals averaged 12.82 pages.  In 2000, affirmances averaged 22.27 pages and reversals averaged 15.19 pages.  In 2001, affirmances averaged 17.13 pages and reversals were 15.5.  In 2002, reversals were 16.82 pages.  Affirmances averaged 15.57 pages.  In 2003, affirmances averaged 14.7 pages and reversals were 14.62 pages.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the years 2004 to 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Heather Paul (no changes).

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Civil Cases (2004-2018)?

Last time, we began looking at a new question: are majority opinions reversing the Appellate Court on average longer than majorities affirming the result below?  Between 1990 and 2003, the answer was, most of the time, yes.  This time, we’re looking at the data for civil cases between 2004 and 2018.

In Table 965, we review the data for civil cases in the years 2004 through 2010.  In six of seven years, civil reversals were, on average, at least somewhat longer.  In 2004, majorities affirming averaged 15.28 pages to 15.04 pages for reversals.  In 2005, the usual pattern reasserted itself – reversals were 23.08 pages and affirmances were 15.85 pages.  In 2006, reversals averaged 23.43 pages to 20.46 pages for affirmances.  In 2007, reversals averaged 18.59 pages to 17.11 pages for affirmances.  In 2008, reversals averaged 16.75 pages to 16.22 for affirmances.  The following year, reversals averaged 16.32 pages to 12.1 pages for affirmances.  In 2010, affirmances averaged 15.72 pages to 15.47 pages for affirmances.

In five of the seven years between 2011 and 2018, civil reversals were, on average, longer than affirmances.  In 2011, civil reversals averaged 13.8 pages, while affirmances were 12.71 pages.  In 2012, affirmances were slightly longer – 11.63 pages to 11.33 pages for reversals.  In 2013, reversals were 11.19 pages to 10.85 pages for affirmances.  In 2014, reversals were 9.35 pages and affirmances averaged 8.86 pages.  The following year, reversals averaged 9.83 pages and affirmances averaged 9.76 pages.  In 2016, reversals were 14.75 pages and affirmances averaged 13 pages.  In 2017, affirmances were 15.18 pages and reversals averaged 14.75 pages.  In 2018, the average civil majority opinion reversing was 15.38 pages, while affirmances were 14.89 pages.

Join us back here on Tuesday as we review the numbers for the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Paul Sableman (no changes).

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Civil Cases (1990-2003)?

I remember many years ago my first-year Criminal Law professor telling us that you can always tell within the first five pages how an appellate criminal law case involving violent crime will come out: if it reads like a slasher movie, the defendant has lost.  If you get well into the opinion and are wondering “but what did the defendant supposedly do” – then the defendant has won.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at trends in the length of the Court’s opinions – are they getting longer or shorter, and is there a correlation between longer dissents (or concurrences) and longer majority opinions.  So today, we’re beginning our look at a related subject: do majority opinions where the Supreme Court reverses tend to be longer than majorities affirming?  At the outset, we could imagine either a “yes” or “no” answer to that question.  If one believes that length is primarily driven by the complexity of the facts and law involved in a case, then there shouldn’t be a consistent relationship between length and result.  On the other hand, one might argue that if we find that majorities reversing are consistently longer than majorities affirming, it could arguably suggest a healthy degree of caution and respect between the levels of the courts.

In Table 963, we chart the average length of majority opinions in reversals (in blue) and affirmances (in red) for civil cases between 1990 and 1996.  In five of seven years, reversals were on average a bit longer than affirmances.  In 1990, majorities in civil reversals averaged 19.74 pages to 16.48 pages for affirmances.  In 1991, the difference was quite slight – 15.71 pages for reversals to 15 pages to affirmances.  In 1992, reversals averaged 17.2 pages to 15.39 pages for affirmances.  In 1993, the gap widened – 17.9 pages for reversals to 13.67 pages for affirmances.  The next year, for the first time affirmances were slightly longer – 13.83 pages to 13.17 pages.  In 1995, reversals averaged 16.18 pages to 15.38 pages for affirmances.  In 1996, affirmances averaged 18.11 pages while reversals averaged 17.92 pages.

In Table 964, we track the majority opinions for the years 1997 to 2003.  Once again, reversals were longer in five of seven years.  In 1997, civil reversals averaged 11.86 pages to 11.63 for affirmances.  The next year, reversals averaged 12.32 pages to only 9.78 for affirmances.  In 1999, reversals were 13.61 pages to 9.72 for affirmances.  In 2000, reversals averaged 12.86 pages and affirmances were 10.29 pages.  In 2001, reversals averaged 14.29 pages to 13.31 pages for affirmances.  In 2002, affirmances were 15.83 pages and reversals averaged 15.42 pages.  In 2003, affirmances averaged 15.39 pages to 14.3 pages for reversals.

Join us back here next time as we review the trends in civil cases from 2004 to 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Earl R. Shumaker (no changes).

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the Court’s year-by-year experience with the length of its opinions (majorities, special concurrences and dissents) in criminal cases for the years 1990 through 2003.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 through 2017.

The average majority opinion declined in length after about 1996, and its downward drift continued during this period.  In 2004, the average majority opinion was 15.35 pages.  That rose to 19.96 pages by 2007, but has declined ever since.  Majority opinions averaged only 13.4 pages in 2011, only 10.37 by 2013 and reached a low of 9.18 pages in 2015 before bouncing back in 2017 to 17.15 pages.

Special concurrences were reasonably consistent throughout the period.  They averaged 4.4 pages in 2004, 2.2 pages in 2005 and 7 pages in 2006, but then were between three and five pages every year from 2007 to 2017 with only one exception – 2014, when the average special concurrence was only two pages.

Dissents were a bit more unpredictable.  The average criminal dissent in 2004 was 8.2 pages.  After a one-year drop, it was 8.71 pages in 2006 and 9 pages in 2008.  After that, the average was close to seven for the years 2009 to 2011 before dropping to 4.5 in 2012 and 3.1 pages in 2013.  Since that time, the average criminal dissent has remained between four and six pages each year.

As we can see in Table 962, the decline in total pages of opinions per case in the criminal docket which we traced through the years 1990 to 2003 continued for much of this more recent period.  In 2004, the average criminal case brought 27.95 pages of opinion.  Leaving aside one outlier year – the average rose to 34.71 pages in 2006 – the number stayed in the twenties until 2012, when the average criminal case was decided with only 19.72 pages of opinions.  The average dropped a bit more in the three years after – 18.04 in 2013, 18.76 in 2014 and 18.01 in 2015, before increasing slightly to 19.95 pages in 2016.  In 2017, the average increased to 26.38 pages per case.

Was there any relationship between the length of majority opinions, special concurrences and dissents across the entire twenty-eight year period?  To put it another way – did a lengthy concurrence or dissent tend to be associated with longer majority opinions in criminal cases?

The answer is clear: no.  The correlation between the length of majority opinions and dissents between 1990 and 2017 was only 0.0372 – virtually no relationship at all.  The correlation between majorities and special concurrences was even lower – 0.0333.

Before we leave the subject of the length of the Court’s opinions, one final question.  Was there a relationship between the length of the Court’s majority opinions in civil and criminal cases?  For a variety of reasons, one would expect the answer to be no – civil and criminal are very different areas of law, each case has its own level of complexity, issues, facts, etc.  There should be very little relationship at all.

But in fact, there is a moderately strong relationship – the correlation between civil and criminal majorities was 0.632724.  There is not, however, a consistent relationship across all opinions.  The correlation between civil and criminal special concurrences is only -0.05499 – both miniscule and not even the expected sign (thus, to the extent there’s any relationship at all, special concurrences in civil cases getting longer weakly suggests that criminal concurrences might be getting shorter).  There is a positive correlation between civil and criminal dissents of 0.4316, but that’s still not as strong a relationship as we found with majority opinion.  So the single best predictor in any given year of whether majority opinions in civil or criminal cases are likely to get longer or shorter is to check what’s going on over on the other side of the docket.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Dimitry B. (no changes).

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time (Part 1)?

Last week, we began our study of the length of the Court’s opinions since 1990 with a look at the civil docket, looking at such questions as whether opinions are getting consistently longer or shorter, and whether longer dissents are related, all other things being equal, to longer majority opinions.  This week, we’re looking at the Court’s criminal docket, beginning with Part 1 today: the years 1990 through 2003.

In Table 959, we report the average length of majority opinions, special concurrences and dissents each year.  For these years, majority opinions in criminal cases have drifted downwards.  Between 1990 and 1996, the average majority opinion was always between twenty and thirty pages.  Between 1996 and 1997, the average dropped from 26.15 to 16.17, and it remained in the mid-teens in the years following.  The two lowest years during this period were 1999 (14.45 pages) and 2003 (14.66 pages).

Special concurrences did not follow any consistent pattern.  In 1990, the average concurrence was five pages.  That dropped to 1.5 pages the following year, but rose back to 5.14 pages in 1994.  The average was between three and four pages from 1998 to 2000, but rose to 4.55 in 2002 and 4.47 in 2003.

Dissents were fairly flat.  Although the average was 6.29 pages in 1990 and 7.9 pages in 1994, the average was between three and four in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997-1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003.  The only additional upticks were in 1993 (4.13) and 1996 (5.89).

Not surprisingly, given the eight-to-ten page drop in the average majority opinion, the Court’s total pages per case – majority opinions, special concurrences and dissents – drifted downwards during the fourteen years from 1990 to 2003.  In 1990, the Court averaged 37.26 pages per criminal case.  As late as 1996, that number was still 36.04 pages.  But then the number abruptly dropped by as many as ten to fifteen pages – 21.85 pages in 1997, 20.19 pages in 1999 and 23.09 pages in 2003.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the criminal docket for the years 2004 through 2017 – and Happy New Year to one and all!

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Sharp (no changes).

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Civil Cases Evolved Over Time (Part 2)?

In our last post, we addressed the yearly average length of the Court’s opinions in civil cases for the year 1990 through 2003.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 through 2017.  In doing so, we’re looking for evidence on two questions: first, are opinions getting shorter or longer over time; and second, do longer dissents tend to mean longer majority opinions?

We report the yearly data for majorities, special concurrences and dissents in Table 957.  Leaving aside the occasional two to three-year spikes and dips, the average majority opinion was about as long for the years 2004 through 2017 as it was in the first fourteen years of our period.  For the years 2005 through 2007, majorities averaged 19.4, 21.73 and 17.93 pages.  For the years 2014 and 2015, the average majority opinion in a civil case dropped below ten pages for the first time – 9.22 in 2014 and 9.8 in 2015.

Special concurrences were about where they were for the years 1990 to 2003 too.  Other than a one-year spike in 2009 to 16.5 pages (the result of there being few concurrences in the set), special concurrences were in a narrow range from about three pages to nearly six pages long.  (The gap in the trend line at 2015 signifies there having been no special concurrences that year in civil cases.) 

Dissents, on the other hand, tended to be just a bit longer in these years.  The average dissent was 7.12 pages in 2004, 8.14 in 2006, 7.08 in 2008, 8.1 in 2010 and 8.7 in 2011.  After a short dip – 6.33 pages in 2012, 5.88 in 2013, 4.86 in 2014 and 5.78 in 2015 – dissents in civil cases got longer again, increasing to an average of nine pages in 2016 and 9.4 pages in 2017.

Despite the indications of a slight uptick in dissents, the Court’s average total output of opinions in civil cases remained relatively stable between 2004 and 2017.  For the years 2005, 2006 and 2009, the Court was producing its largest volume of pages of the entire twenty-eight year period (35.08 pages, 33.37 and 38.36, respectively).  But by 2012, the average civil case was producing only 19.61 pages of opinion.  After two years around the same level – 19.94 in 2013 and 20.08 in 2014 – the average dropped to its lowest level in 2015 – 15.58 total pages.  But in the two years since, opinions have gotten longer – 25.31 pages in 2016 and 26.94 pages in 2017.

At the outset, we asked whether longer dissents or special concurrences tended to result in longer majority opinions.  To get a bit of further evidence on that question, we calculated the correlations for the years 1990-2017 between the average length of the Court’s civil majority opinions and their dissents, and the correlation between majorities and special concurrences.  If more pages of dissents (or concurrences) tend to lead to more pages of majorities, the correlation should be higher.  If not, the correlation should be lower.  And of course, as every statistician always warns – mere correlation does not necessarily indicate causation.  In civil cases since 1990, the correlation between the length of majority opinions and dissents is 0.4638 – not a strong relationship, but a moderate correlation, indicating that dissents do push the length of majority opinions up at least somewhat.  The correlation between special concurrences and majority opinions, on the other hand, is only 0.1261 – a very low correlation, indicating that the presence of a special concurrence has relatively little tendency to make majority opinions longer.

Join us back here on New Year’s Day as we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal docket.  Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy of Flickr by James Jordan (no changes).

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Civil Cases Evolved Over Time (Part 1)?

This week, we take up a new topic: how has the length of the Court’s opinions – majority opinions, special concurrences and dissents – evolved over the past twenty-eight years?  We’ll review the civil docket this week – today on the years 1990-2003 and tomorrow on 2004-2017 – and then turn to the criminal docket next week.

In Table 955, we report three variables: the average length of majority opinions, special concurrences, and dissents.  Although there was some evidence that the average majority opinion was trending downwards from 1990 to the years 1997-2000 – dropping from an average of 18.68 pages to a low of 11.31 in 1998 – majority opinions drifted somewhat higher between 2000 and 2003, to 13.71 in 2001, 15.57 in 2002 and 14.87 in 2003.  Over the entire fourteen years, the 1990 result is an outlier.  With the exception of a one-year spike to 17.98 pages in 1996, the average majority opinion arguably didn’t change much over this period: from 15.47 pages in 1991 to 15.57 pages in 2002.

Interestingly, the average special concurrence drifted downward at almost the same time.  In 1990, the average civil concurrence was 5.5 pages.  By 1993, it had fallen to only 2 pages.  After a brief recovery, it was down to 2.4 in 1998, 1.75 in 1999 and 2.5 in 2000.  But between 2001 an 2003, concurrences moved upwards again, to 3.63 pages in 2001, 5.29 pages in 2002 and 4.75 pages in 2003.

The average civil dissent was fairly flat throughout these years.  Once again, 1990 was an outlier, with the average civil dissent at 8.68 pages.  But since then, the average dissent was between four and five pages in 1991, 1992 and 1993.  Other than a three year dip from 1997 to 1999 – 3.32 pages in 1997, 2.63 pages in 1998 and 3.85 pages in 1999 – the average dissent was between four and five pages most years from 1991 to 2003.

In Table 996, we look at a somewhat different question: if particular categories of opinions, majorities, concurrences and dissent, aren’t consistently getting longer/shorter, are opinions as a whole trending in any particular direction?  This provides some evidence on two questions: first, as the years go by and judicial styles, the Court’s personnel changes and perhaps the types and complexity of cases change, are opinions across the board getting longer or shorter; and second, do lengthy dissents tend to spark lengthy majorities?

In 1990, the Courts’ opinions average 32.86 pages in civil cases.  With the exception of that year, there aren’t clear trends in any direction.  Between 1991 and 1994, the Court averaged twenty-two to twenty-four pages per civil case.  The number increased to 28.03 in 1995 and 28.25 in 1996 before dropping in the four years after to 18.86 (1997), 16.34 (1998), 17.5 (1999) and 18.36 (2000).  But in 2001, the average case produced 22.72 pages in opinions.  In 2002 and 2003, the average was back to trend – 25.38 pages (2002) and 24.82 pages (2003).

Join us back here later today as we review the years 2004 to 2017.

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

What District/Division of the Appellate Court Averaged the Most Votes to Affirm Before the Supreme Court in Criminal Cases (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the average votes to affirm criminal cases from the First District at the Supreme Court between 1990 and 2017.  Today, we’re reviewing the numbers for the rest of the state.

The Second District’s votes to affirm in criminal cases has been equally distributed.  For nine years, the votes to affirm was four or more (1991, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009-2010 and 2013-2014).  In seven more years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1998-2000, 2003, 2008 and 2011-2012.)  In eight years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1990, 1992-1993, 2002, 2006 and 2015-2017).

The Third District’s votes to affirm was at four or more in six years (1993, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2017).  In an additional ten years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1991, 1994-1996, 2000-2002, 2006, 2010 and 2015).  In eight years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1992, 1997-1998, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2016).

The Fourth District’s votes to affirm was at four or more in criminal cases in twelve of the previous twenty-eight years (1991-1992, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013-2014 and 2016-2017).  Votes to affirm was between three and four in four years (2002, 2006, 2008, 2011.)  Votes to affirm was between zero and two in eight years (1990, 1995-1996, 1999-2001, 2009 and 2015).

The Fifth District’s votes to affirm has been relatively evenly distributed.  In eight years, votes to affirm was four or more.  (1990-1991, 1995-1997, 1999 and 2001-2002).  In five years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1994, 2000, 2004, 2010 and 2015).  In seven years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1992-1993, 2003, 2005-2006, 2011 and 2013).  The Supreme Court decided no criminal cases from the Fifth District in four years (2007-2009 and 2012).

Criminal cases taken directly from the Circuit Courts were typically death penalty appeals prior to abolition in 2011 and have generally involved sentencing matters in the years since.  In thirteen years, votes to affirm has been four or more (1991, 1993, 1995-1997, 1999, 2001-2003, 2008, 2010-2011 and 2014).  In six years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2007).  In another six years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (2009, 2012-2013 and 2015-2017).

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new area of our analysis.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Thomas & Dianne Jones (no changes).

 

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