Below we see the average total questions per argument by Justice. Justice Thomas averages 9.67 questions per argument. Justice Fitzgerald is not far behind, averaging 7.14 questions per argument, with Justice Theis averaging 4.22 questions per argument. Behind Justice Theis are Justice Burke (4.02) and Chief Justice Garman (3.85). The lightest questioners on the Court are Justice Freeman (3.07), Justice Karmeier (2.77) and Justice Kilbride (2.68).
We turn next to average questions per Justice for each of the three segments of the argument – appellant, appellee and rebuttal. Justice Thomas has averaged 3.9 questions to appellants during the initial argument. Justice Fitzgerald was right behind, averaging 3.72 questions to appellants. Justice Theis averages 2.2 questions to appellants during the initial segment of the argument, and the rest of the Justices are only slightly behind that.
Justice Thomas averages slightly more questions to appellees than to appellants – 4.42 questions per argument. Justice Fitzgerald averaged 2.75 questions per argument to appellees, with the rest of the Court clustered behind. Justice Thomas averages 1.35 questions per argument during rebuttals, with the rest of the Court clustered around 0.5 questions or slightly less.
In the table below, we look at the same data from a somewhat different viewpoint: the percentage of each Justice’s total questions asked during each of the three segments. We see that 58.2% of the total questions asked by Justice Freeman have been directed at appellants. Justices Fitzgerald and Theis have asked 52% of their total questions of appellants.
Chief Justice Garman has asked 51.28% of her total questions of appellees. Justices Kilbride, Thomas and Karmeier have averaged between 44 and 46% of their total questions of appellees. Justices Freeman, Theis and Fitzgerald have asked the smallest fraction of their total questions of appellees – trending around one in three.
Justice Kilbride is the most active questioner during rebuttal, asking 20.36% of his total questions during that segment. Justices Thomas, Karmeier and Theis are clustered behind, averaging between 12 and 14% of their total questions during rebuttal.
Next week, we’ll begin reviewing which Justices most frequently ask the first question in each segment, and the Justices’ individual question patterns year-by-year.