Does the Time to Argument and Decision Correlate to How a Criminal Case is Decided?

Last time, we looked at whether the Court’s lag time – from the allowance of a petition for leave to appeal to oral argument, and from oral argument to decision – gives litigants a hint of what the Court’s decision is likely to be.  We showed that although there’s no consistent relationship between lag time and result as a whole, affirmances tend to take longer, all else being equal, from the grant of review to oral argument, and reversals take longer from the oral argument to decision.  So what patterns do we see in the criminal docket?

In nine of the past ten years, reversals in criminal cases have taken longer from grant to argument than affirmances have.  In 2008, reversals took an average of 245.77 days from the grant of review to oral argument, and affirmances took 226.71 days.  2009 was the lone outlier – that year, affirmances averaged 288.2 days to 284 days for reversals.  But in 2010, reversals averaged 273.95 days, affirmances averaged 266.96.  In 2011, reversals averaged 270.68 days, affirmances 266.53 days.  In 2012, reversals averaged 308 days from grant to argument, while affirmances averaged 259.  In 2013, reversals averaged 294.65 days, and affirmances averaged 263.69 days.  In 2014, reversals averaged 285.5 days and affirmances averaged 258.14 days.  In 2015, reversals averaged 289.14 days, and affirmances averaged 241.6 days.  In 2016, reversals averaged 290.71 days from grant to argument, while affirmances came on for argument in an average of 254.73 days.  Last year, reversals averaged 287.69 days, and affirmances averaged 264.36 days.

As we noted above, the relationship between lag time and result flips when you compare grant to argument and argument to decision – affirmances take longer to argue, reversals take longer to decide.  The criminal docket is somewhat different; although the relationship is not as strong, reversals tend to take somewhat longer regardless of whether we look at grant to argument or argument to decision.

In 2005, affirmances averaged 228.6 days from argument to decision, while reversals averaged 208.67 days.  In 2006, reversals averaged 113.9 days, while affirmances averaged 112.36 days.  In 2007, affirmances averaged 143.75 days to 131.21 days for reversals.  In 2008, reversals averaged 152.74 days, while affirmances averaged 103.5 days.  In 2009, reversals averaged 178.67 days, while affirmances averaged 150.83 days.  In 2010, the two numbers were almost identical – affirmances averaged 139.97 days, and reversals averaged 139.42 days.

In 2011, affirmances averaged 165.52 days, while reversals averaged 131.13 days.  In 2012, affirmances averaged 134.07 days, and reversals averaged 121.69 days.  In 2013, reversals averaged 160.61 days from argument to decision; affirmances averaged 101.14 days.  In 2014, reversals averaged 103.85 days, while affirmances averaged 98.29 days.  In 2015, reversals averaged 143.14 days from argument to decision, while affirmances were decided in an average of 95 days.  In 2016, reversals averaged 171.82 days in criminal cases.  Affirmances averaged 124.73 days.  Last year, reversals averaged 154 days from argument to decision, while affirmances took on average 126.69 days.

Given the more consistent relationship between lag time and result on the criminal side, we would expect reversals to average more days pending, from grant of review to decision, in most years compared to affirmances.  And that’s what we see – in nine of the ten years from 2008 to 2017, reversals were pending longer than affirmances in criminal cases.  Indeed, in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, reversals averaged a month or more longer from grant to decision than affirmances did.

Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to another issue in our ongoing study of the Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by David B. Gleason (no changes).

Does the Time to Argument and Decision Correlate to How a Civil Case is Decided?

Last week, we reviewed the basic data on lag times at the Court – how long has it typically taken, year after year, for civil and criminal cases to be argued and decided.  This week, we’re looking at a different aspect of lag time – does it help predict the likely result?  Is a case which takes longer than expected to be argued or decided more likely to be an affirmance or reversal?

In Table 688, we compare the yearly lag time from the allowance of the PLA to oral argument for affirmances and reversals in civil cases.  We see a fairly clear result – in seven of the last eight years, it’s taken longer from grant to argument in cases where the Court ultimately affirmed than in reversals.  The pattern is different at the outset of our period.  In 2007, civil affirmances averaged 161.75 days from grant to argument, while reversals got argued in 163.8 days.  In 2008, affirmances averaged 168.29 days, while reversals averaged 187.41 days.  In 2009, affirmances averaged 169.44 days, reversals 192.62 days.

But since 2010, the relationship has been consistent – affirmances take longer to reach argument.  In 2010, affirmances in civil cases averaged 213.87 days, reversals were argued in 176.27.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 220.81 days, reversals 162 days.  In 2012, affirmances averaged 254.75 days, while reversals were argued in nearly two months less time – 190 days.  2013 was the only break in the pattern – affirmances 178.54 days, reversals 191.58 days.  But in 2014 and since, affirmances once again took longer.  In 2014, affirmances averaged 226.71 days to argument, reversals averaged 188.15.  IN 2015, affirmances averaged 220.24 days, reversals averaged 197.86 days.  In 2016, affirmances averaged 181.33 days, reversals averaged 173.5 days.  Last year, affirmances averaged 212.3 days, while reversals averaged 194.73 days.

So what about the second half of the process, from argument to decision?  It turns out the relationship flips: affirmances consistently take longer to reach argument, but in ten of the past thirteen years, reversals take longer to decide.

In 2005, reversals in civil cases averaged 172.08 days, while affirmances averaged 163.42 days.  In 2006, reversals averaged 154.59 days, affirmances averaged 117.5 days.  In 2007, reversals averaged 134.41 days, while affirmances averaged 121.76 days.  In 2008, affirmances averaged 160.67 days, reversals averaged 146 days.  In 2009, reversals averaged 146.23 days from argument to decision, while affirmances averaged 120.5 days. In 2010, there was more than two months difference – reversals averaged 181.78 days, and affirmances were decided in 111.87 days.

In 2011, affirmances took slightly longer – 149.59 days to 137.42 days for reversals.  In 2012, reversals averaged 155.68 days to 146.75 days for affirmances.  In 2013, affirmances averaged 164.79 days, while reversals averaged 118.55 days.  In 2014, reversals averaged 134.5 days, while affirmances took 97.57 days.  In 2015, reversals averaged 136.05 days from argument to decision, while affirmances averaged 98.71 days.  In 2016, reversals averaged 197.92 days, affirmances 122.23 days.  Last year, affirmances took longer – 125.73 days to 104.33 for reversals.

So affirmances take longer to reach argument, but reversals take longer to decide.  How does it net out – is there a consistent relationship across the entire lag time of a case from grant to argument?

The answer is no – across the entire decisional process, there’s no consistent correlation between lag time and result.  Reversals were pending longer from 2007 to 2010 and in 2015 and 2016, and in the remaining years, affirmances were pending longer.

Join us back here next time as we take a look at the data on the criminal side of the docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Courtney Carmody (no changes).

How Long Do Criminal Cases Typically Take to Argument and Decision?

Last time, we reviewed the lag time data for the Court’s civil cases between 2005 and 2017 – specifically, (1) grant of petition for leave to appeal to oral argument; and (2) oral argument to decision.  This time, we’re looking at the Court’s experience with its criminal docket.

Once again, we have only the argument-to-decision number for the years 2006 and 2007, since data on conference results (and therefore grant dates) is difficult to locate.  In 2006, the Court averaged 112.03 days in criminal cases from argument to decision.  In 2007, the Court averaged 139.85 days.

In 2008, the Court averaged 238.23 days in criminal cases from the grant of the petition for leave to appeal to oral argument, and a further 131.92 days to decision.  In 2009, both sides of the ledger were up, as the Court averaged 286 from grant to argument, and 164.27 days from argument to decision.  In 2010, the Court averaged 270 days in criminal cases from grant to argument, but only 136.39 days to decision.  In 2011, both numbers were essentially flat – 269 days from grant to argument, 144.7 days from argument to decision.  In 2012, the lag from grant of petition for leave to appeal to argument increased a bit to 284 days, but the lag from argument to decision fell to 124.21 days.  In 2013, grant to argument took 282.45 days, while the average lag from argument to decision edged up to 138.03 days.

In 2014, the average time from grant to argument fell slightly to 268.09 days, but argument to decision fell to its lowest level during the period – only 100.41 days.  In 2015, the Court averaged 274.28 days from grant to argument, and 128.09 from argument to decision.  In 2016, grant to argument was again flat, averaging 276.57 days in criminal cases.  But the lag from argument to decision was up to 153.79 days.  Last year, the Court averaged 279.59 days from grant of petition for leave to appeal in criminal cases to argument, and a further 140.34 days from argument to decision.

Join us back here next week as we continue our review of the data on lag times at the Court.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Michel Curi (no changes).

How Long Do Civil Cases Typically Take to Argument and Decision?

Last time, we were reviewing the Court’s treatment of cases with a dissent at the Appellate Court.  This week, we’re reviewing the data on lag times at the Court.

In 2014, a joint project of the Court Management Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, in conjunction with the Conference of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal, the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks and the American Bar Association, developed a schedule of model lag time goals for each stage in an appeal.  After reviewing survey data from courts around the country, comparing their performance to the time standards set by the ABA, among others, the project suggested a new lag time goal: the project concluded that state courts of last resort should attempt to process seventy-five percent of their cases in one-hundred eighty days from grant of review to decision, and ninety-five percent in two hundred forty days from grant to decision.  So how is the Illinois Supreme Court doing?

Computing lag time data before 2007 is challenging because conference results are not posted on the Court’s website (meaning that it’s impossible to determine the date on which leave to appeal was granted).  In 2005, the Court averaged 166.2 days from argument to decision.  In 2006, the Court averaged 133.63 days from argument to decision.

Beginning in 2007, we can compare both the days from the grant of review to argument, and the days from argument to decision.  For the past eleven years, the Court has fallen short of the joint project’s lag time goals.  In 2007, civil cases averaged 162.89 days from grant to argument and a further 128.9 days from argument to decision.  In 2008, the Court averaged 178.77 days from grant to argument and 154.38 days from argument to decision.  In 2009, civil cases averaged 187 days from grant of leave to appeal to argument, and a further 139.8 days from argument to decision.  In 2010, civil cases averaged 195 days from grant to argument and 150 days from argument to decision.  In 2011, the numbers were quite similar: 190 days from grant to argument, 143.14 days from argument to decision.  In 2012, civil cases averaged 201.29 days from the grant of leave to appeal to argument and a further 152.18 days from argument to decision.  In 2013, the Court averaged 186.28 days from grant to argument, and 137.59 days from argument to decision.  In 2014, civil cases averaged 198.15 days from grant to argument, and 124.93 days from argument to decision.

In 2015, civil cases averaged 199.02 days from grant of leave to appeal to argument, and a further 117.81 days from argument to decision.  In 2016, civil cases averaged 176.86 days from grant to argument, and 155.19 days from argument to decision.  Last year, the Court’s civil cases averaged 201.76 days from grant of review to argument, and a further 113.38 days from argument to decision.

Join us back here later today as we review the data for the Court’s criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Pen Waggener (no changes).

Are Criminal Cases With a Dissent More Often Reversed?

Yesterday, we began our further examination of the Court’s experience with cases with a dissent at the Appellate Court.  We asked whether civil cases with a dissent were systematically more or less likely to be reversed than cases which were decided unanimously.  Today, we’re asking the same question on the criminal side of the docket.

As shown in Table 685, the answer on the criminal side is quite clear: cases with a dissent below are more likely to be reversed at the Supreme Court – in many years, twenty to forty percentage points more likely.

In 1990, divided cases were reversed 60% of the time.  Unanimous decisions were reversed in 42.59% of cases.  In 1991 and 1992, decisions with a dissent were once again much more likely to be reversed – 53.33 and 81.81% for divided decisions to 23.26 and 45.68% for unanimous ones.  1993 was one of the few years that unanimous decisions were more likely to be reversed – unanimous decisions were reversed in 28.57% of cases while no cases with a dissent were reversed.

In 1994 and 1995, again cases with a dissent led in reversals – 50 and 66.67% for divided cases to 45.45 and 38.16% for unanimous ones.  In 1996, 33.96% of unanimous decisions were reversed, but no divided decisions were.  In 1997, two-thirds of divided criminal cases were reversed, while only 36.84% of unanimous ones were.  In 1998, 80% of divided decisions were reversed.  Only 38.81% of unanimous decisions were.  In 1999, 71.43% of decisions with dissents were reversed, while 39.13% of unanimous decisions were.  The pattern took a one-year break in 2000, as one-third of cases with dissents were reversed to 39.24% for unanimous decisions, before reasserting itself from 2001 to 2005.  In 2001, 80% of divided decisions were reversed to 35.85% of unanimous decisions.  In 2002, 71.43% of divided decisions were reversed, while only 39.68% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2003, 77.78% of decisions with dissents were reversed, but only 32.14% of unanimous ones were.  In 2004, fully 88.89% of decisions with a dissent were reversed.  Only 47.73% of unanimous decisions were.

In 2005, 43.75% of criminal cases with a dissent were reversed, while 46.51% of unanimous decisions were.  Following that, divided decisions were more likely to be reversed for each of the next eight years.  In 2006, 63.64% of divided decisions and 53.85% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2007, 87.5% of divided decisions and 65% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2008, 69.23% of divided decisions were reversed, but 48.65% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2009, two-thirds of decisions with a dissent below were reversed, while 47.83% of unanimous decisions were.

The sides were close in 2010 – 44.44% of divided decisions and 40.54% of unanimous decisions were reversed – but the pattern quickly reasserted itself.  In 2011, two-thirds of divided decisions were reversed, while 47.22% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2012, 55.56% of divided decisions were reversed, and 45.83% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2013, every criminal case with a dissent below was reversed, while 51.52% of unanimous decisions were.

In 2014, 38.46% of unanimous decisions were reversed, while 37.5% of divided decisions were.  Between 2015 and 2017, divided decisions have been more likely to be reversed each year.  In 2015, 72.73% of divided decisions and 68.18% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2016, 85.71% of decisions with dissents were reversed, and 60.71% of unanimous decisions were.  Last year, the Court reversed 57.14% of decisions with a dissent below and 40.74% of unanimous decisions.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by StantonTCady (no changes).

Are Civil Cases With a Dissent More Frequently Reversed?

Last week, we reviewed the data on whether cases which were published below are more frequently reversed.  This week, we’re reviewing a related issue: are cases with a dissent below more frequently reversed by the Supreme Court?  If so, that might suggest that dissents at the Appellate Court aren’t just helpful in getting the Court’s attention for a PLA – a persuasive dissent might help the side who lost below turn defeat into victory at the Supreme Court.

In 1990 and 1991, cases without dissents were reversed somewhat more frequently than cases with dissents – in 1990, cases with dissents were reversed 47.62% of the time, and cases with no dissents were reversed in 58.62% of the cases.  In 1991, 60% of cases with dissents were reversed, and 68.42% of cases without dissents were reversed.

In 1992, two-thirds of cases with dissents were reversed, and 52.11% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  In 1993, 87.5% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  For cases with no dissents, the reversal rate was 40%.  In 1994, 61.9% of cases with a dissent were reversed, while half of cases with no dissents were reversed.  In 1995, 80% of cases with dissents were reversed.  63.41% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  In 1996, 83.33% of cases with dissents were reversed, while 60.47% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  In 1997, two-thirds of the cases with a dissent were reversed.  Only 47.37% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  In 1998, only 36.36% of cases with dissents were reversed, but 61.67% of cases with no dissent were.  In 1999, 57.14% of cases with no dissents were reversed.  Half of the cases with no dissents were reversed.

In 2000, 37.5% of cases with a dissent were reversed, while 60% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2001, half of cases with a dissent were reversed, while 46.81% of non-unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2002, 64.29% of cases with a dissent were reversed, while 58.33% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2003, 64.71% of cases with a dissent were reversed.  Only 48.28% of cases without a dissent were reversed.

In 2004, half of the cases without a dissent were reversed, but 52.27% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2005, 54.55% of cases with a dissent were reversed, while 52.78% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2006, two-thirds of split decisions were reversed, while only 32.43% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2007, once again two-thirds of decisions with a dissent below were reversed, while only 38.46% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2008, 53.85% of decisions with a dissent were reversed, while 51.72% of unanimous decisions were reversed.

In 2009, 80% of decisions with a dissent were reversed, while 67.74% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2010, two-thirds of decisions with a dissent were reversed, but 47.62%of unanimous decisions were.  In 2011, 60% of unanimous decisions were reversed, and 42.86% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2012, all of the decisions which had a dissent below were reversed, and 64.29% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2013, 70% of decisions with a dissent were reversed, while 54.17% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2014, three-quarters of decisions with a dissent were reversed, and 65.22% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2015, only 46.67% of divided civil decisions were reversed, while 55.17% of unanimous decisions were overturned.  In 2016, 20% of divided decisions were reversed, while 43.48% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  Last year, 80% of decisions with a dissent below were reversed.  Only 37.5% of unanimous civil decisions were reversed.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bradhoc (no changes).

Are Published Criminal Cases More Often Reversed?

Yesterday, we tested whether publication at the Appellate Court has any impact on a civil case’s reversal rate at the Supreme Court.  The answer is no – published Appellate Court decisions on the civil side are not consistently reversed at a higher or lower rate than unpublished decisions.  Today, we test the same question on the criminal side.

On the criminal side, we see an interesting result.  Between 1990 and 2003, published criminal decisions were reversed at a consistently higher rate than unpublished ones – published cases’ reversal rates were higher in thirteen of fourteen years.  From 2004 to 2017, the relationship has nearly inverted.  Of the fourteen years, published cases have had the higher reversal rate three times, the two sides have been tied in four years, and unpublished cases have had the higher reversal rate seven times.

In 1990, published criminal cases had a 51.61% reversal rate.  Unpublished decisions were reversed at a 44.74% rate.  In 1991, half the published cases were reversed, but only 13.33% of the unpublished decisions were.  In 1992, 70.73% of the published decisions were reversed.  Only 35.29% of the unpublished decisions were.

The reversal rate for unpublished criminal decisions stayed consistently low for another five years: 20% in 1993, 12.82% in 1994, 32.14% in 1995, 26.83% in 1996 and 29.27% in 1997.  In each of these years except 1993, the reversal rate for published decisions was between fifty and sixty percent.  The reversal rate for unpublished criminal decisions stayed below 50% from 1998 through 2003 (in fact, between 2000 and 2003, it was below 40%).

In 2004, one seat on the Court switched from Democratic to Republican.  Beginning with that year, unpublished criminal decisions were reversed at a much higher rate, and the numbers for published and unpublished decisions became quite similar.  In 2006, 44.44% of both published and unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 2007, 61.54% of published cases and 69.23% of unpublished ones were reversed.  In 2008, 47.83% of both published and unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 2010, half of both published and unpublished decisions were reversed, and in 2011, both sides finished at 48% reversals.

Since 2012, there’s been no consistent relationship between the reversal rates on the published and unpublished sides.  In 2012, 57.89% of published cases were reversed, and 35.71% of unpublished cases were.  In 2013, 52.17% of published cases were reversed, but two-thirds of unpublished cases were.  In 2014, 45.45% of published cases were reversed, and 27.27% of unpublished cases were.  In 2015, 63.16% of published cases were reversed, but 78.57% of unpublished cases were.  The numbers were similar in 2016 – 61.9% for published cases, 76.92% for unpublished cases.  Last year, 45.45% of published cases were reversed, and 41.67% of unpublished cases were.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to another question.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Katherine Johnson (no changes).

Are Published Civil Cases More Often Reversed?

Last week, we looked at the conventional wisdom which holds that the Supreme Court only reviews published decisions from the Appellate Court.  We showed that in fact, Rule 23 orders (the Illinois term for unpublished decisions) are not unheard of on the Court’s civil docket – in a typical year, twenty to forty percent of the civil cases were unpublished below – and are downright commonplace in the criminal docket.

This week, we’re digging deeper on the issue of publication at the Appellate Court.  In order to understand better what kinds of cases make it to the Supreme Court despite being unpublished below, let’s compare the reversal rate for published Appellate Court decisions to the reversal rate on unpublished decisions.  It’s easy to posit conflicting theories as to how this analysis might come out.  Perhaps published decisions are given a harder look by the Court, leading to a higher reversal rate?  Or perhaps, given that they’re not precedential, what causes the Court to allow an appeal from an unpublished decision is the view that the case was clearly wrongly decided.  If that turns out to be true, one might expect the reversal rate for unpublished decisions to be higher than published ones.

In fact, there isn’t strong evidence for either of these theories, as we see in Table 682.  In thirteen of the past twenty-eight years, the reversal rate for published decisions has been higher; in fifteen years, the reversal rate has been higher for unpublished decisions.  In 1990, the numbers were almost identical – 60.71% of the published decisions were reversed, and 57.58% of the unpubs were.  The next year, the reversal rate for published decisions was flat at 62.79%, while 80% of the unpublished decisions were reversed.  By 1993, the two halves of the docket had diverged – 61.29% reversal of published decisions, 14.29% of unpublished ones, but for the next four years, the two sides were quite close.  In 1994, 55.56% of published decisions and 41.67% of unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 1995, 64.44% of published decisions and 81.82% of unpublished ones were reversed.  In 1996, 64.71% were reversed on the published side, 66.67% were reversed on the unpublished side.  The following year, 47.37% of published cases and 52% of unpublished ones were reversed.

In 2000, 57.14% of published cases and half the unpublished cases were reversed.  The following year, reversals among published decisions were down a bit to 44.83%, while they were static on the unpublished side.  In 2003 and 2004, the two sides were nearly equal – 56.76% and 50% for published decisions, 55.56% and 57.14% for unpublished ones.  For four of the five years between 2009 and 2013, reversals were at least a bit more common among published decisions than they were among unpublished ones (indeed, none of the Rule 23 orders reviewed in 2008 or 2013 were reversed).  In 2014, the reversal rate was exactly two-thirds in both published and unpublished decisions.  For 2015, 48.57% of published decisions and two-thirds of unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 2016, 45% of published decisions and 25% of unpublished ones were reversed.  Last year, half of the published decisions the Court reviewed on the civil side were reversed, but all of the unpublished decisions were.

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

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

 

How Many of the Court’s Criminal Cases are Published at the Appellate Court?

Yesterday, we looked at how large a share of the Court’s civil docket since 1990 has been accounted for by cases which were published at the Appellate Court.  Although there have been spikes in both directions from time to time, we showed that typically, 60-80% of the court’s civil cases were published below.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal side of the docket.

In Table 680, we report the raw numbers – criminal law decisions which were published below.  As you can see, the criminal docket is somewhat less dependent on published cases than the civil docket is.  In 1990, 31 of the criminal cases were published below.  In 1991, 28 were, and in 1992, 41 were.  But for the nine years that followed – from 1993 to 2001 – there were typically twenty or so published decisions a year.  In 2002, the figure jumped to 31.  In 2004, 42 criminal decisions were published below.  In 2005 and 2006, the number was 38 and 32, respectively.  Since then, for the most part, the data has reverted to trend.  In 2007, 15 criminal decisions were published below.  From 2008 to 2010, the number was up – 27 in 2008, 29 in 2009 and 33 in 2010 – but ever since that time, it’s back to trend.  In 2011, 2013 and 2014, 23 cases were published per year.  In 2012 and 2015, 19 cases were published each year.  In 2016 and 2017, 22 of the court’s criminal cases were published below.

On the civil side, we saw what initially appeared to be a long-term decline in the number of published Appellate Court decisions being decided by the Supreme Court – a decline which pretty much disappeared when we looked at published decisions as a fraction of the docket.  As you can see in Table 681 below, on the criminal side, there seems to be a persistent increase in the share of the docket accounted for by published cases below.

From 1990 to 1994, published Appellate Court decisions were between forty and fifty percent of the criminal docket – 44.93% in 1990, 48.28% in 1991, 44.57% in 1992, 41.86% in 1993 and 40% in 1994.  In 1995, 29.11% of the docket was published below.  In 1996, only 24.07% was.  The number jumped to 34.92% in 1997, but fell back to 22.22% in 1998, and – after another one-year spike – 22.09% in 2000.  In 2001, 32.76% of the criminal docket was published below.  In 2002, 44.29% was, and in 2003, 35.38% was.

In 2004, we see the beginning of a persistent upswing in the fraction of the criminal docket accounted for by published cases.  That year, 67.74% of the docket was published below.  The figure was almost identical in 2005 and 2006 – 64.41% and 64%, respectively.  In 2007, 53.57% of the docket was published.  In 2008, 54% was.  In 2009, 55.77% of the docket was published below, and in 2010, 60% was.  After a two year dip to 47.92% in 2011 and 57.58% in 2012, the share of the criminal docket accounted for by published cases has stayed steady – 60.53% in 2013, 67.65% in 2014, 57.58% in 2015, 62.86% in 2016 and 64.71% in 2017.

Join us back here next week as we continue our analysis of the Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Geoff Livingston (no changes).

How Many of the Court’s Civil Cases are Published at the Appellate Court?

Last time, we looked at the data on cases which had a dissenter at the Appellate Court, and whether they’re more likely to have at least one dissenter at the Supreme Court.  This week, we’re looking at a new question – how much of the court’s civil and criminal dockets consists of decisions which were published at the Appellate Court?

In Table 678, we report the number of civil cases the court decided which were published at the Appellate Court.  On the face of it, it seems that published decisions are declining on the Court’s civil docket.  In 1990, fifty-six of the court’s civil decisions were published below.  In 1991, that dropped to 43, but in 1992 and 1994, it was even higher: 67 in 1992, 63 in 1994.

In 1995, 45 of the Court’s civil decisions were published below.  Since then, the yearly number has generally been in the high 20s and 30s.  In 1996, 34 of the court’s civil decisions were published below.  In 1997, 38 were.  Forty-seven were in 1998, but in the next five years, that fell to 30, 28, 29, 36 and 37.  Forty civil decisions were published below in 2004.  In 2005, 33 were.  In 2006, it was 43.  In 2007, 29 civil decisions were published below.  In 2008, 40 cases were published, but the number has been consistently lower since: 33 in 2009, 29 in 2010, 36 in 2011, 34 in 2012, 31 in 2013, 15 in 2014, 35 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 25 in 2017.

But these are just the raw numbers.  Is the apparent drop in published lower court decisions in the Court’s civil docket a real trend, or a result of the total caseload edging downward in recent years?  In our next table, we report published Appellate Court decisions as a percentage of the total civil docket.

The table shows that the apparent downward trend in civil cases published below is indeed a result of a slightly lower case load, rather than the court consistently hearing more Rule 23 orders.  In 1990, 62.92% of the Court’s civil decisions were published below.  In 1991, it was 81.13%; in 1992, 72.83%; in 1993, 82.05%; in 1994, 84%, and in 1995, 80.36%.  In 1996, 61.82% of the court’s civil decisions were published below.  That figure remained fairly flat for the next two years – 60.32% in 1997, 66.2% in 1998.  In 1999, 73.17% of the civil docket was published below.  In 2000, 73.68% was.  In 2001, 56.86% of the civil docket was published below.  In 2002, 72% was.  The following year, 80.43% was published below, but in 2004, the number fell slightly to 74.07%, and again in 2005 to 68.75%.

In 2006, 87.76% of the civil decisions were published below.  There was a one-year dip in 2007 to 70.73%, but the number was consistent for the six years following: 95.24% in 2008; 80.48% in 2009; 87.88% in 2010; 94.74% in 2011; 85% in 2012 and 91.18% in 2013.  In 2014, the published share of the civil docket dropped to 55.56%, but it rose back to 79.55% in 2015, 71.43% in 2016 and 92.59% in 2017.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the numbers for the criminal side of the docket.

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

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