Yesterday, we continued our Justice-by-Justice review of question patterns in oral arguments at the Illinois Supreme Court, beginning our two-day look at Justice Thomas L. Kilbride. Our goal is to explore what we can infer about how each Justice might vote, and whether he or she is writing an opinion, from the Justice’s questioning. Today, we look at whether Justice Kilbride’s vote and opinion writing impacts the likelihood that he will ask the first question of either side.
Justice Kilbride is more likely to ask the first question when he’s in the majority of a reversal than when he’s in the majority of an affirmance. He also is much more likely to ask the first question of an appellant, whether he joins the majority in a reversal or an affirmance. Justice Kilbride is significantly more likely to ask the first question of either side when he’s writing the majority decision in a reversal; there is a 9.62% chance that Justice Kilbride will ask the first question of an appellant when he’s not writing, but a 21.42% chance that he asks the first question when he’s writing the majority opinion. Justice Kilbride is similarly significantly more likely to ask the first question of appellees in reversals when he’s writing the majority opinion than when he’s not writing. On the other hand, Justice Kilbride has asked no first questions of either side when the Court affirms with Justice Kilbride writing the majority opinion.
Turning to cases in which Justice Kilbride voted in the minority, we find that Justice Kilbride asked the first question when dissenting from a reversal in nearly the same percentage of cases – 5.88% of the time for appellants, 5.55% of the time for appellees. However, once again, writing an opinion had an effect. Justice Kilbride asked the first question of appellants 10% of the time when he wrote a dissent, and of appellees 8.33% of the time in such cases.
Justice Kilbride asked the first question of appellants when the Court affirmed with Justice Kilbride in the minority 7.69% of the time. Once again, he was significantly more likely to ask the first question when he was writing a dissent than when he was not writing. Justice Kilbride didn’t ask the first question of appellees in any case where the Court affirmed with Justice Kilbride in dissent.
Next week we’ll turn to analyzing the question patterns of Justice Charles Freeman.