What District/Division of the Appellate Court Averaged the Most Votes to Affirm Before the Supreme Court in Criminal Cases (Part 1)?

Last week, we reviewed the data across the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court for yearly average votes to affirm the Appellate Court’s decisions in civil cases before the Supreme Court.  This week, we’re looking at votes to affirm in criminal cases.

In Table 943, we report the data for Division One of the First District.  Votes to affirm have generally been relatively low.  The rate has been four or more in six years (1992, 1997, 1998 and 2008-2010).  The rate has been near affirmance – between three and four – in only one year (1993).  The votes to affirm has been between zero and two in nine years (1991, 1995, 2007, 2013, 2014 and 2017).  The Supreme Court has decided no criminal cases from Division One in nine years (1994, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005-2006, 2012 and 2015).

Division Two’s votes to affirm have been evenly spread across the spectrum.  In seven years, votes to affirm was four or more (1995, 1997-1998, 2008-2011 and 2017).  In four years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1994, 2007, 2012, 2014).  In six years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1993, 1996, 2001-2002, 2013 and 2016).  The Supreme Court decided no criminal cases from Division Two in seven years (1990, 1992, 1999-2000, 2003-2004 and 2006.

Division Three of the First District has also fared fairly well.  In eight years, votes to affirm was over four.  (1993, 1998-1999, 2003-2004, 2010, 2014, 2016).  In six years, votes to affirm was between three and four (2000, 2002, 2012-2013, 2015, 2017).  In another five years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1990-1991, 1994, 2005 and 2008).  In only four years of the past twenty-eight has the Court decided no criminal cases from Division Three (1997, 2001, 2007 and 2011).

Votes to affirm in Division Four has clustered on opposite ends of the spectrum.  In six years, votes to affirm was four or more (1990, 1992, 1997, 2003, 2014 and 2016).  In four years, votes to affirm was between three and four (2005-2006 and 2010-2011).  In seven years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1995-1996, 2000, 2008-2009, 2012-2013.)  In nine years, the Court decided no criminal cases from Division Four (1991, 1993-1994, 1998-1999, 2001-2002, 2007 and 2015).

Division Five of the First District has performed strongly in most years.  Nine times, its votes to affirm in criminal cases was four or more (1990, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2012-2013 and 2015-2017).  In five years, votes to affirm has been between three and four (1994, 2001-2002, 2006 and 2011).  In only four years was the votes to affirm between zero and two (1992, 1995 and 2004-2005).  The Court decided no criminal cases from Division Five in nine years (1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009-2010 and 2014).

Division Six has averaged four or more votes to affirm in eleven of the past twenty-eight years (1993, 1996, 2000, 2004-2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017).  In two years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1991 and 1994).  In six years, votes to affirm was between zero and two (1992, 1998-1999, 2002, 2006 and 2009).  The Court has decided no criminal cases from Division Six in seven years (1990, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008 and 2016).

Finally, we review the cases from the First District which we were unable to definitively attribute to a particular Division.  Votes to affirm for unattributed Divisions was four or more in fifteen years (1991-1993; 1995-1998, 2001, 2004-2005, 2008, 2010-2012 and 2017).  Votes to affirm was between three and four in two years (2002 and 2006).  Votes to affirm was between zero and two in seven years (1990, 1994, 1999-2000, 2007, 2013 and 2015).  There were no unattributable criminal cases from the First District in 2014 or 2016.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data from the rest of the state.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Teemu008 (no changes).

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

Last time, we began reviewing the performance of each District and Division of the Appellate Court for the years 1990 to 2017 using a different metric: average votes each year to affirm the Appellate Court’s decision, regardless of whether the ultimate result was to affirm or reverse.  After reviewing the numbers for Chicago’s First District in our last post, this time we’re looking at the data for the rest of the state.

The Second District’s yearly votes to affirm has been evenly distributed across the spectrum: seven years at four votes or higher (1990, 1996, 1999, 2006, 2013, 2015 and 2017); six years between three and four votes to affirm (1992, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2011); and eight years between zero and two votes to affirm (1993, 1995, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2016).

 

The Third District has fared well.  For the past twenty-eight years, the Third District’s average votes-to-affirm in civil cases has been at four or more eleven times – 1993, 1995, 1999-2002, 2004-2006, 2011 and 2014.  The votes to affirm has been between three and four six times – 1996-1997, 2007, 2013 and 2016-2017.  The Third District’s votes to affirm were between zero and two only five times – 1990, 1992, 2003, 2012 and 2015.

The Fourth District’s civil votes to affirm has generally been fairly high as well.  The rate was four or more in eight years (1998, 200-2001, 2005, 2011-2012 and 2015-2016).  The rate was between three and four an additional eight years (1994, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2008-2009, 2014 and 2017).  The rate was between zero and two only four times (1990-1991, 1997, 2013).

Given that the Fifth District had the highest reversal rate in the state, we would expect the yearly votes to affirm to be low.  They were – only in 2016 was the court’s votes to affirm rate at four or more in civil cases (it was 5.2).  In four years, votes to affirm was between three and four: 1993, 2003-2004 and 2007.  For sixteen of the twenty-eight years, average votes to affirm civil decisions from the Fifth District was between zero and two: 1990-1992, 1995, 1000-2001, 2005, 2008-2010, 2012-2015 and 2017.

Finally, we address the cases which the Supreme Court has taken directly from the Circuit Courts.   Overall, the Court reversed in 66.94% of those cases, and the votes to affirm numbers reflect that.  The trial courts’ civil votes to affirm were four or more in four years (1993, 2003, 2013, 2016); between three and four in three years (1994, 1997 and 2009); and between zero and two in fourteen years (1990-1992, 1995-1996, 1998-2002, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2014).  In three years, the Court accepted no civil cases from the Circuit Courts.

Join us back here next week as we turn to the votes to affirm rates for the criminal docket.

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

Which District/Division of the Appellate Court Averaged the Most Votes to Affirm Before the Supreme Court in Civil Cases (Part 1)?

For the past two weeks, we’ve been reviewing the reversal rates before the Supreme Court of each District and Division of the Appellate Court since 1990.  But not all affirmances (or reversals) are created equal.  A 4-3 reversal is arguably a different thing than a 7-0 reversal (and the same goes for affirmances by those votes).  We calculated average votes to affirm each District and Division, year by year: votes for the prevailing side in an affirmance, votes for the losing side in a reversal.  (The gaps in the Tables below are years in which the Supreme Court decided no cases from that District or Division.)  As we showed earlier, the highest twenty-eight year reversal rate in civil cases was the Fifth District, 72.83%.  The lowest was Division Four of the First District, 52.38%.

We report average votes to affirm for Division One of the First District in Table 931 below.  For ten of the twenty-eight years between 1990 and 2017, the court’s average votes to affirm was over 4 on the seven-Justice Court (1990, 1997-1999, 2005-2008, 2010 and 2015).  For an additional four years, Division One’s votes-to-affirm was between three and four (1992, 1994, 1996 and 2002).  In only nine of twenty-eight years was the votes to affirm number at two or less (1991, 1995, 2003-2004, 2011-2014 and 2017).

Division Two of the First District had a votes-to-affirm of four or more in seven of the twenty-eight years between 1990 and 2017.  In another six years, its votes to affirm was between three and four.  In ten of the twenty-eight years, Division Two’s votes to affirm was two or less.

Division Three of the First District has generally been close to a majority vote to affirm.  For seven years – 19997, 2000-2002, 2004 and 2006-2007), the court’s votes to affirm were four or more.  In an additional eleven years, votes to affirm were between three and four – 1990-1991, 1993, 1995, 1999-2001, 2005, 2011, 2014.  In six years, votes to affirm were two or less: 1992, 1994-1996, 2008-2009 and 2012.

Despite having the lowest overall reversal rate in the state, the court’s votes to affirm rate bounced around.  Division Four had a votes to affirm of four or more in seven of twenty-eight years (1992, 1995, 1997, 2006, 2010-2011 and 2016).  In an additional seven years, votes to affirm was between three and four (1990, 1994, 2000-2001, 2004, 2007 and 2015).  Eleven times, the court’s votes to affirm has been two or less (1991, 1993, 1998-1999, 2002-2003, 2005, 2009, 2013-2014 and 2017).

Division Five’s votes to reverse were equally distributed across the spectrum.  For eight years, votes to reverse were four or more (1991, 1994, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2014-2015).  In seven years, votes to affirm were between three and four (1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2012).  In seven years, votes to affirm were two or fewer (1993, 1995, 1999, 2006-2007, 2010-2011, 2016-2017).

The votes to affirm rate for Division Six has been distributed similarly.  For eight years since 1990, Division Six’s rate has been at four or more (1991, 1999-2001, 2005-2006, 2016-2017).  In seven years, the rate has been between three and four (1995-1997, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2013).  In nine years, the court’s votes to affirm rate was at two or less (1994, 1998, 2003-2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014-2015).

Finally, we address civil cases for which we were unable to positively identify the Division of the First District which heard the case.  In six years, the votes to affirm rate was four or more (1991, 1993, 1999, 2000-2001, 2016).  In five years, the votes to affirm rate was between three and four (1992, 1996-1998 and 2002).  In three years, the votes to affirm rate was two or less (1990 and 1994-1995).  In six years, the Court decided no cases which we were unable to attribute to a Division.  The Table ends in 2002 because since that year, there is only one additional case in which we were unable to identify a Division – a 2016 case which was affirmed 7-0.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data from the rest of the state.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Teemu008 (no changes).

Which District of the Appellate Court Has Been Reversed Most Often in Criminal Cases Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the District-by-District reversal rates in criminal cases for the courts of Chicago’s First District.  Today, we’re reviewing the data for the rest of the state.

But first, let’s review the criminal cases decided in the First District for which we couldn’t determine a specific Division (the vast majority of these cases fall before the Supreme Court’s recent decision to post Rule 23 orders on the Illinois courts’ website).  From 1990 to 2017, the Court decided 121 cases from unattributed Divisions of the First District, reversing in 45.45%.

For most of the nineties, these cases were reversed at a below-average rate: 25% in 1993, 33.33% in 1995, 30% in 1996, 16.67% in 1997 and 14.29% in 1998.  The reversal rate was 40% in 1999 and ticked up to 60% in 2000.  The rate was 58.33% in 2001 and 50% in 2002 before falling to 38.5% in 2003.  The rate rose to 56.25% in 2007, 60% in 2008 and 61.9% in 2009.  From 2010 to 2014, the reversal rate was very close to the long-term average.  It rose to 100% in 2015 and 2016 before falling to 33.33% in 2017.

The Court decided 185 criminal cases from the Second District between 1990 and 2017, reversing in 56.22%.  The court’s reversal rate was near the long-term average until about 1999, when it fell to 45.16% in 1999, 45.45% in 2000, 33.33% in 2001, 40.91% in 2002 and 45.45% in 2003.  The rate then returned to trend, and remained within ten points of the long-term average until 2014, when it fell to 30.77% and 46.15% in 2015.  The rate then rose to two-thirds in 2016 and 87.5% in 2017.

The Court decided 181 criminal cases from the Third District between 1990 and 2017, reversing in 61.88%.  After several years around the trend, the reversal rate rose to 71.43% in 1997, 83.33% in 1998 and 81.82% in 1999.  The reversal rate then remained within ten points of the long-term average each year from 2006 to 2017, excepting only 2008: 72.73%.

The Court decided one hundred forty-four criminal cases from the Fourth District across the entire period, reversing in 54.86%.  After several years relatively near that figure in the nineties, the rate increased to 70.59% in 1999, 73.33% in 2000, 80.77% in 2001 and 67.86% in 2002.  After several more years near average, the rate fell to 30% in 2007 and 40% in 2008 and 2010 and 41.67% in 2011.  From there until now, the Fourth District only had two outlier years – 38.46% in 2014 and 72.73% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided seventy-nine criminal cases from the Fifth District, reversing in 54.43%.  The rate jumped to 70% in 1993 and 76.92% in 1994, before falling to 28.57% in 1997.  After several years around average, the reversal rate fell to 37.5% in 2001 and 33.33% in 2002.  The reversal rate was two-thirds in 2005 and 2007 before a two-year swing – first to zero in 2009 and then to 100% in 2010.  The reversal rate was 50% each year from 2011 to 2013, 83.33% in 2014, 75% in 2015, 72.73% in 2016 and two-thirds in 2017.

Finally, we have the Court’s criminal cases taken directly from the Superior Courts.  The Supreme Court has decided 492 criminal cases since 1990 – the vast majority prior to 2005 – reversing in 41.67%.  The Court reversed in 51.9% of direct appeals in 1994.  The direct appeal reversal rate fell to 22% in 2001 and 28.77% in 2003, jumping to 63.64% in 2006 and 56.25% in 2007.  The reversal rate was near the long-term average from 2008 to 2012, but rose to 52.63% in 2013, 62.5% in 2014, 75% in 2015, 73.33% in 2016 and 92.31% in 2017.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Prasad Kholkute (no changes).

Which District of the Appellate Court Has Been Reversed Most Often in Criminal Cases Since 1990 (Part 1)?

Last week, we reviewed the data on reversal rates for the various Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court in civil cases at the Supreme Court.  This week, we’re taking a look at the criminal docket.

In Table 918, we report the overall reversal rate for each intermediate Court in the 1,361 criminal and quasi-criminal cases in our database since 1990.  Only one court statewide is over sixty percent reversal – the 3rd at 61.88%.  Seven courts had overall rates in the fifties, and two courts – Divisions Six and Five of the First District – had twenty-eight year reversal rates of 48.37% (the Sixth) and 46.15% (the Fifth).  Only cases taken directly from the Circuit Courts, which predominantly (but not entirely) consists of death penalty appeals before the death penalty was repealed in Illinois, have a lower reversal rate: 41.67%.

Once again, we’re using three-year floating averages in the Tables below rather than year-by-year reversal rates, in order to try to smooth out large swings from one year to the next which are actually random.  As we see in the next several Tables, the effort isn’t entirely successful, at least with the Divisions of the First District.  Typically, the Court decides only a scattered few criminal cases from any particular Division in a given year, so the three-year totals reversed and affirmed are still relatively low numbers, subject to large swings.

For the entire period, the Court decided forty-five criminal cases from Division One, reversing in 57.78%.  After rising to 100% in 1996, the court’s rate dropped to one-third in 1997 and 2000 and zero in 1998 and 1999.  The rate rose to 80% in 2002 and 2004 and 100% in 2003 and 2007, but fell to 37.5 in 2009, 11.11% in 2010 and 30% in 2011.  The rate was up for three years beginning in 2013 (80%, 100% and 100%, respectively), before settling down to two-thirds in 2016 and 2017.

The Court has decided forty-four criminal cases from Division Two of the First District, reversing in 52.27%.  After coming in around average for 1992-1994, the rate dropped to 28.57% in 1995 and 37.5% in 1996.  The three-year rate dropped to zero in 2000, but from 2001 to 2004 was at 100%.  The rate had drifted back down to average by 2008 before falling substantially from 2009 to 2012, bottoming out at only 16.67% in 2010 and 2011.  The reversal rate was 50% in 2013, 60% in 2014, two-thirds in 2015 and 2016 and 57.14% last year.

The Court has decided sixty-five criminal cases from Division Three of the First District since 1990, reversing in 56.92%.  The reversal rate started out the nineties high, coming in at 81.82% in 1992 (i.e., cases in 1990, 1991 and 1992).  After three straight years at two-thirds and a small uptick in 1996 to 71.43%, by 1998, the reversal rate had dropped to one-third in 1998 and 2000.  The rate briefly dropped again in 2003 and 2004, to 25% and 28.57%, respectively.  In eight of the past ten years, Division Three’s reversal rate has been at or significantly below its long-term average, excepting only 2008 (75%) and 2009 (83.33%).

The Court has decided forty-four cases from Division Four, reversing in 59.09%.  As you can see from Table 922, Division Four might be subject to more (arguably random) enormous swings in its three-year floating reversal rate than any other Appellate Court in the state.  The rate was zero in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2003 and 100% in five years during the same period – 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2002.  The rate has been just a bit more consistent since.  The rate was close to the long-term average from 2004 to 2007 before jumping to 80% in 2008, 85.71% in 2009, 77.78% in 2010 and 70% in 2011.  The last three years have seen another downswing in the court’s reversal rate: 50% in 2015, zero in 2016 and 40% in 2017. 

Division Five of the First District has varied widely from year to year too.  Overall, the Supreme Court reversed 46.15% of the thirty-nine criminal cases it decided from Division Five.  The rate was significantly above average during most of the nineties – 66.67% in 1993 and 1994, 75% in 1995, 60% in 1996 and two-thirds again in 1997 – before dropping to zero in 1998, 1999 and 2000.  The rate rose again to two-thirds in 2002 and 2003, 100% in 2004 and 2005, 92.86% in 2006 and two-thirds in 2007, but has been well below average since 2011: zero in 2011, 2012 and 2016, 20% in 2013, 2015 and 2017, and 25% in 2015.

The Court has decided forty-three criminal cases from Division Six of the First District, reversing in whole or in part in 48.84%.  Division Six had four very good years from 1995 to 1998, with the reversal rate at 33.33% in 1995 and 1998 and 25% in 1996 and 1997.  In 1999 and 2003, the reversal rate rose to 100%, and it remained above average in the three intervening years.  Since 2004, Division Six’s reversal rate has been quite steady, holding at 50% from 2008-2011 and in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the rest of the Districts’ criminal reversal rates.

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

Which District Outside of Chicago Is Reversed Most Often in Civil Cases (1990-2017)?

Last time, we reviewed the three-year floating reversal rate in civil cases from 1990 to 2017 of the Divisions of Chicago’s First District of the Appellate Court.  This time, we’re turning our attention to the rest of the state.  For Districts Two through Five, the highest long-term reversal rate was the Fifth District – 72.83% of the 173 civil cases the Court heard from the Fifth District.  The Second District was the lowest rate – 53.73% of its 201 civil cases were reversed.

We begin with the Second District.  For most of the period 1990-1997, the Court’s reversal rate was right around the long-term trend number.  After two good years in 1999 and 2000 (36.67% and 44%), the number has been fairly close to average since, although the outlier years have almost all been above-average-reversal rates rather than below.  Since 2003, the Court has had seven years in which its average crept up the high sixties or low seventies.  Since 2014 however, the Court’s reversal rate has been consistently low – half in 2014 and 2015, 53.84% in 2016 and 30.77% in 2017.

The Third District’s overall civil reversal rate for the period was 56.3%.  The rate was a bit high from 1992 to 1994, topping out at 76.19% in 1992, and after a three-year dip, was again above average from 1998 to 2000.  The reversal rate dropped precipitously in 2001 and 2002, to 28.57% in 2001 and 25% in 2002, before briefly returning to about average between 2003 and 2005.  The Third District’s reversal rate was significantly below average for most of the years 2006-2009 before settling back to roughly the trend number, excepting only a one-year spike in 2016 to 71.43%.

The Fourth District was right in the middle of the pack downstate, with 55.28% of its 161 civil cases between 1990 and 2017 being reversed.  Aside from two outliers, 1992 (73.08%) and 1997 (73.68%), the Fourth District’s civil reversal rate was relatively close to average throughout the nineties, generally in the high fifties or low sixties.  The rate was cyclical between 2000 and 2010: below average for 2000-2003; slightly above in 2004, below average again 2005-2007 and slightly above average in 2008 and 2009.  The Fourth District had two very good years in 2011 and 2012 (45.45% and 30%, respectively), three average years for 2013-2015, and two more very good years in 2016 and 2017 (30% and 27.27%).

As we mentioned above, the Fifth District led the state between 1990 and 2017, with 72.83% of its 173 civil decisions which the Court agreed to hear being reversed in whole or in part.  With the exception of 1992 (80.65%), the court’s reversal rate was fairly close to its long-term average from 1993 to 1998.  After a one-year spike in 1999 (85%), the reversal rate was actually below average from 2002 to 2006 – generally in the low-to-mid sixties, not greatly different from the rest of the state.  Things changed from 2009 to 2015, as the Fifth District’s civil decisions consistently had rough sledding: 90.91% in 2009; 92.31% in 2010; 85.71% in 2011; 78.57% in 2012; 81.82% in 2013; 90.91% in 2014 and 90% in 2015.  But the rate fell significantly over the past two years to 64.29% in 2016 and 58.33% in 2017.

Finally, there’s civil cases which the Supreme Court accepts directly from the Circuit Courts.  From 1990 to 2017, the Court heard 121 such cases, reversing in whole or in part in 66.94% of them.  For the most part during the nineties, the three-year number was right around the long term average, peaking in 1992 at 78.26% and reaching its low in 1995 at 46.15%.  The rate was consistently high between 2000 and 2004 – four years in the seventies, 2001 at 81.82%.  Between 2005 and 2011, the rate was generally in the sixties, around average.  It peaked again for one year in 2012 at 100% (but in fact, only one direct civil appeal was decided between 2010 and 2012, so it doesn’t mean much).  In 2013, the Court heard one direct appeal and affirmed, explaining the zero three-year average for 2013.  For 2014 and 2015, the three-year average reversal rate was two-thirds, before falling again to below average: 54.55% in 2016, only 44.44% last year.

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

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

Which Division of the First District Is Reversed Most Often in Civil Cases (1990-2017)?

This week, we’re looking at one of the most frequently seen analytics about appellate decision-making and courts of last resort: which Appellate Court has the highest (and lowest) reversal rate.  First, a few words about method.  We define criminal and quasi-criminal cases in our database as criminal, quasi-criminal cases like habeas corpus, juvenile and mental health cases, and attorney disciplinary cases.  Civil is everything else – the typical practice of most civil appellate lawyers.  To smooth out random variations, we’re using three-year floating average reversal rates.  Thus, the number for 1992 is the combined reversal rate for 1990, 1991 and 1992.  In 1993, we drop 1990 from the calculation and add 1993 – and so on to the present day.  Today, we’re looking at civil cases in the Divisions of Chicago’s First District, and tomorrow, we’ll cover the rest of the state.

But first, one very important reminder.  There’s a good argument that looking at reversal rates for cases actually heard by the Supreme Court as some kind of indication whether a particular District or Division was out of step with the Supreme Court is inherently misleading.  Even if a court’s three-year floating average reversal rate at some point was 80% or 90%, the fact remains that the Supreme Court almost certainly denied leave to appeal in anywhere from 80% to 95% of the cases from that same court where it was sought.  So, it’s equally valid to say that a particular District or Division’s “true” reversal rate generally floats in or near the single digits.

For the entire twenty-eight years, the Court heard the more civil cases from Division Three of the First District than anywhere else in the First – 106.  The least frequently appearing Division from the First was Division Five, with 65 cases.  By a very narrow margin, Division Two had the highest reversal rate in the First District – 60.49%.  There was very little variation in the First District – the lowest twenty-eight year reversal rate was Division Four at 52.38%. 

Table 906 reports the numbers for Division One of the First District.  For the entire period, Division One was reversed in 54.79% of the civil cases the Supreme Court decided.  For the first half of the 90s, Division One was slightly above its long term average, topping out at 80% in 1993.  For the second half of the decade, Division One was generally below its average, with the best year being 1999 at 30%.  The reversal rate was only slightly above average for the first half of the first decade of the 2000s before dropping sharply between 2006 and 2010, hitting its lowest level in 2008 – a three-year floating average reversal rate of only 12.5%.  After a few bad years from 2011 to 2014, Division One’s reversal rate has reverted to its long-term trend.

For most of the period from 1992 (i.e., the combined average for 1990, 1991 and 1992) to about 2003, Division Two’s reversal rate in civil cases hovered right around its long-term average of 60.49.  The rate reached its low point in 2001 (44.44%) and its high in 1996 – 66.67%.  Division Two then had several consecutive very good years in civil cases, dropping as far as 28.57% for 2004, but from 2009 to 2014, Division Two’s three-year rate was significantly above its long-term average, reaching 90% in 2012 and 2013, and 100% in 2014.  The average has dropped back to 50% for 2016 and 2017.

The twenty-eight year reversal rate for Division Three was only twelve one-hundredths of a point behind Division Two at 60.37%.  During the 1990s, the low for Division Three was 36.36% reversal; the high was 81.25% in 1996.  The rate dropped to 41.67% in 2002 and a bit more to 36.36% in 2003, before settling in the mid-50s from 2005 to 2008.  Division Three’s rate had two major swings in opposite directions for 2009 and 2010 (42.86% in 2009, 87.5% in 2010, before settling consistently into the low-to-mid-sixties ever since.

Division Four fared quite well between 1990 and 2017 in civil cases – only 52.38% of the civil cases the Court decided from Four were reversed.  For the first half of the 90s, its rate was generally around that number, peaking at 66.67% in 1995.  After two good years in 1997 and 1998 (37.5%, 42.86%), the Division Four returned to trend.  The court then had three straight not-so-good years between 2003 and 2005: 71.43%, 83.33% and 80%.  After a few years close to trend, Four had three straight very good years at the Supreme Court – 33.33% in 2010, 25% in 2011 and 30% in 2012.  In the years since, Division Four’s civil reversal rate has been a bit above its long term average.

As for the sixty-five civil cases the Court decided from Division Five of the First District, exactly sixty percent were reversed in whole or in part.  Aside from a one-year peak in 1997 (100%), Division Five’s reversal rate was right around that trend number from 1992 to 2002.  Since then, Division Five has performed cyclically: three good years from 2003 to 2005 – 37.5% each year; some less successful years (80% in 2007, 2011 and 2012); two more good years in 2014 and 2015 (33.33% in 2014, 28.57% in 2015).  In 2016 and 2017, Division Five was reversed at a higher-than-usual rate (63.64% and 76.92%).

Division Six ranked in the middle of the pack in the First District – from 1990 to 2017, 55.84% of its seventy-seven civil cases were reversed in whole or in part.  Its rate was fairly close to that from 1992 to 2005, reaching a high only 66.67% in 1995 and 2004, and a low of 40% in 2001.  Division Six had two very good years in 2006 and 2007 – 33.33% and 27.27% – before the rate crept up again.  For much of the time since 2010, Division Six’s reversal rate has been above average: a low in 2013 at 66.67%, a high in 2016 of 80% – before dropping back to half in 2017.

Our final group consists of First District cases between 1990 and 2004 for which I was unable to identify a specific Division.  Candidly, I considered leaving these numbers out of the post, since it’s a biased grouping – cases fall here for no better reason that the Appellate Court decision was unpublished and the Supreme Court’s opinion didn’t disclose the Division.  But just to round out our discussion, 49.09% of the fifty-five “unknown Division” cases were reversed.  The number reached 22.22% in 1993 and 1994 before briefly reaching 76.19% in 1999.  The rate was relatively close to average from 2000 to 2003, before reaching 66.67% in 2004 (the year of the last “unknown Division” case).

Join us back here later tonight as we turn our attention to the civil docket in the rest of Illinois’ Districts.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Matt Maldre (no changes).

How Was Dissent Distributed in Criminal Cases?

Yesterday, we took a closer look at last week’s analysis of the unanimity rate, asking how much of the docket was accounted for by one, two and three dissenter cases.  Over the entire period 1990-2017, 12.86% of the criminal decisions had one dissenter, 10.65% had two – both slightly below the rate in civil cases – and 8.38% of the criminal cases were decided 4-3 (a bit above the civil rate).

For the years 1990 to 1996, one dissenter cases varied – four years over the long-term average, three years under.  Two dissenter cases were similar – four years over the long term average, three under.  Three dissenter cases were well below the long term average from 1990 to 1993, but above in from 1994 to 1996.  One dissenter cases were 13.04% of the civil docket in 1990, 13.79% in 1991, 5.43% in 1992, 9.3% in 1993, 12.31% in 1994, 13.92% in 1995 and 7.41% in 1996.  Two dissenter cases were 5.8% of the criminal docket in 1990, 8.62% in 1991, 10.87% in 1992, 2.33% in 1993, 15.38% in 1994, 17.72% in 1995 and 14.81% in 1996.  Three dissenter cases were very uncommon in the criminal docket from 1990 to 1993 – 1.45% in 1990, 1.72% in 1991, 1.09% in 1992, 4.65% in 1993, but then rose to 10.76% in 1994, 8.86% in 1995 and 9.26% in 1996.

One and three dissenter cases were above the long-term trend level for much of the period 1997 to 2003, while two dissenter cases were a bit down.  One dissenter cases were 12.7% in 1997 and 12.5% in 1998 before tripling in 1999 and 2000 – 35.85% and 39.53%.  For the years 2001 to 2003, they settled back down – 18.97% in 2001, 12.86% in 2002 and 10.77% in 2003.  Two dissenter were up in the years 2000 to 2002, but otherwise, at or below the long-term average: 9.52% in 1997, 8.33% in 1998, 9.43% in 1999, 13.95$ in 2000, 17.24% in 2001, 20% in 2002 and 9.23% in 2003.  Three dissenter cases were 17.46% of the criminal docket in 1997, 9.72% in 1998, 9.43% in 1999, 19.77% in 2000, 3.45% in 2001, 12.86% in 2002 and 26.15% in 2003.

By and large, dissent was down across the board – one, two and three dissenter cases – for the years 2004 and 2010.  One dissenter cases were 14.52% of the criminal docket in 2004, 8.47% in 2005, 10% in 2006, 10.71% in 2007, only 4% in 2008, 5.77% in 2009 and 9.09% in 2010.  Two dissenter cases were 8.06% in 2004, 6.78% in 2005, 12% in 2006, 10.71% in 2007, only 2% in 2008, 9.62% in 2009 and 12.73% in 2010.  Three dissenter criminal cases were only 1.61% of the docket in 2004 and 3.39% in 2005 before rising to 6% in 2006, 7.14% in 2007, 1% in 2008, 7.69% in 2009 and 3.64% in 2010.

Dissent has remained low across the board from 2011 to 2017.  The Court had no one-dissenter criminal cases at all in 2011, 12.12% in 2012, 13.16% in 2013, 5.88% in 2014, 6.06% in 2015, 5.71% in 2016 and 14.71% in 2017.  Two dissenter cases were 10% of the criminal docket in 2011, 9.09% in 2012, 13.16% in 2013, 8.82% in 2014, 6.06% in 2015, 8.57% in 2016 and only 2.94% last year.  Three dissenter cases were 12% of the criminal docket in 2011, 9.09% in 2012, 5.88% in 2014, 6.06% in 2015, 5.71% in 2016 and 8.82% in 2017.  There were no three dissenter criminal cases in 2013.

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

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

How Was Dissent Distributed in Civil Cases?

Last week, we discussed the evolution of the Court’s rate of unanimity in civil cases.  But of course, that analysis omits important variables – how was the dissent distributed?  It tells us something very different if, for example, the entire group of divided decisions were 6-1 or 4-3.  So this week, we’re looking at that question – year by year, 1990-2017, how much of the Court’s civil and criminal docket was decided with one dissenter, two dissenters, and three dissenters.  For the entire period, 13.57% of the Court’s 1,363 civil cases were decided with one dissenter, 12.4% had two, and 6.6% had three.

We begin with the years 1990-1996.  For these years, cases with one dissenter tended to be somewhat under the average for the period, while two and three dissenter cases were somewhat more common than the overall average, suggesting a somewhat divided court.  One dissenter cases were 8.99% of civil cases in 1990, 11.32% in 1991, 13.04% in 1992, 23.68% in 1993, 18.67% in 1994, 12.5% in 1995 and 9.09% in 1996.  Two dissenter cases were 8.99% of the civil docket in 1990, 13.21% in 1991, 14.13% in 1992, 10.53% in 1993, 21.33% in 1994, 17.86% in 1995 and fully 20% in 1996.  Three dissenter cases were 3.37% in 1990.  There were none at all in 1991, but 4.35% of the civil docket was decided 4-3 in 1992, 2.63% in 1993, 5.33% in 1994, 7.14% in 1995 and 9.09% in 1996.

For the years 1997 to 2000, division in the Court continued, as one, two and three dissenter cases were always above the twenty-eight year average.  One-dissenter cases were 22.22% of the civil docket in 1997, 25.35% in 1998, 24.39% in 1999 and 15.79% in 2000, before falling to 7.84% in 2001, 12% in 2002 and 10.87% in 2003.  Two-dissenter cases were 15.87% of the civil docket in 1997, 14.08% in 1998, 9.76% in 1999, 18.42% in 2000, 9.8% in 2001, 16% in 2002 and 15.22% in 2003.  Finally, three-dissenter cases were 12.7% in 1997, 12.68% in 1998, 17.07% in 1999, 7.89% in 2000, 7.84% in 2001, 6% in 2002 and 4.35% in 2003.

Serious division was below the long-term trend level between 2004 and 2010 – excepting only one-dissenter cases in 2005 and 2006 and three-dissenter cases in 2004 and 2008.  One dissenter cases were 7.41% of the civil docket in 2004, 14.58% in 2005, 16.33% in 2006, but only 9.76% in 2007, 9.52% in 2008, 7.32% in 2009 and 9.09% in 2010.  Two dissenter cases were 7.41% of the civil docket in 2004, 4.17% in 2005, 10.2% in 2006, 7.32% in 2007, 9.52% in 2008, 9.76% in 2009 and 12.12% in 2010.  Three dissenter cases were 11.11% of the civil docket in 2004, 6.12% in 2006, 2.44% in 2007, 9.52% in 2008 and 6.06% in 2010.  There were no civil 4-3 decisions in 2005 or 2009.

For the most recent seven years, one and two dissenter cases have been, for the most part, below the trend level, but 4-3 decisions are a bit more common.

One dissenter cases were 10.53% of the civil docket in 2011, 15% in 2012, 20.59% in 2013, 7.41% in 2014, 9.09% in 2015, 14.29% in 2016 and 3.85% in 2017.  Two dissenter cases were 7.89% in 2011, 17.5% in 2012, 17.65% in 2013, 7.41% in 2014, 6.82% in 2015, 3.57% in 2016 and 3.85% in 2017.  Three dissenter cases were 5.26% in 2011, 12.5% in 2012, 2.94% in 2013, 7.41% in 2014, 4.55% in 2015, 7.14% in 2016 and 11.54% of the criminal docket last year.

Join us back here later today as we address the distribution of dissent in the criminal docket.

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

How Has the Court’s Unanimity Rate in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time?

Yesterday, we began our review of how the Court’s unanimity rate has changed over time with a review of the data for the civil docket.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal docket.  For the entire twenty-eight years, the Court has decided 1,540 cases and been unanimous in 67.86% – less than a point higher than the overall unanimity rate.

For the first four years of the period, the unanimity rate was over the average: 79,.71% in 1990, 75.86% in 1991, 82.61% in 1992 and 83.2% in 1993.  For the three years following, it fell a bit below trend, to 61.54% in 1994 and 59.49% in 1996 before rising a bit in 1996 to 68.52%.

The unanimity rate was below trend for every year of the next seven years other (narrowly) than 1998.  The unanimity rate was 60.32% in 1997, 69.44% in 1998, only 45.28% in 1999, only 26.74% in 2000, 58.62% in 2001, 54.29% in 2002 and 53.85% in 2003.

The unanimity rate remained high between 2004 and 2010: 74.19% in 2004, 81.36% in 2005, 72% in 2006, 71.43% in 2007, 84% in 2008, 76.92% in 2009 and 74.55% in 2010.

The unanimity rate in criminal cases stayed over the trend rate over the past seven years – 74% in 2011, 69.7% in 2012, 73.68% in 2013, 79.41% in 2014, 81.82% in 2015, 80% in 2016 and 72.53% in 2017.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by William Ross (no changes).

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