In our last post, we saw that tort law was the most common subject on the Court’s civil docket in the first five years of the twenty-first century, followed by civil procedure, constitutional law, insurance law, domestic relations, workers compensation and government and administrative law. We begin the next phase of our analysis by addressing whether defense or plaintiff’s wins were more common in each subject among the cases the Court accepted.
In two key subjects – tort law and insurance – approximately two thirds of the cases the Court accepted for review were plaintiffs’ victories before the Appellate Court. The Court’s cases in workers compensation, an area of the law which overlaps to a degree with tort, were also lopsidedly plaintiffs’ wins below. In another politically charged area, constitutional law, fifty-five percent of the Court’s cases involved liberal Appellate Court decisions:
We next parse our overall reversal rate statistics by considering whether the Court reversed conservative or liberal Appellate Court decisions at a higher-than-expected rate in each separate area of the law. We see that the Court reversed relatively few Appellate Court decisions for defendants, while reversing decisions in favor of insurance companies at an unexpectedly high rate. Reversal rates in the areas of workers compensation and government and administrative law were relatively close to the overall reversal rate.
Next week, we’ll turn to the second five years of our study period, 2005-2009.