Yesterday, we analyzed whether cases involving a dissent at the Appellate Court averaged more questions at the Illinois Supreme Court. The data suggested that appellees tended to get somewhat more questions when the lower court was divided.
Today we turn to a different question: do decisions from certain districts of the Appellate Court tend to get more questions at the Illinois Supreme Court than decisions from other districts? A few months ago, we looked at the reversal rates of the various districts and divisions and concluded that while the Fourth District tended to average a somewhat lower reversal rate than the rest of the state, the Fifth District averaged a higher reversal rate.
Given that result, one would expect that the originating district of the Appellate Court might well have an effect on the level of questions at oral argument in the Supreme Court. The data is in the Table below.
Note that the appellant averages more questions than the appellee in nine of the ten Appellate Courts. Average questions to appellants differ significantly among the districts of the First District, with Divisions Four and Six receiving one third fewer questions than Division One. Similarly, average questions to appellees are about twenty-five percent higher in Division One of the First District than in Divisions Five and Six. Question levels for cases from the Second District are roughly comparable to Division Six of the First District, and significantly below Divisions One and Two.
Appellees – the party defending the lower court decision – average more questions than appellants only in the Fifth District. Average questions to the Appellant in the Fifth District are less than half the average to Appellants in Divisions One, Two and Five of the First District. Average questions to appellees are roughly equal to all the other Appellate Courts, but still half again as much as the average questions to the appellant.
Next week, we’ll begin our analysis of the individual Justices’ patterns at oral argument.