Yesterday, we continued our quick trip through the arguments at the Illinois Supreme Court in criminal, quasi-criminal and disciplinary cases, analyzing whether oral argument can give us grounds for inferring the likely time under submission, the length of the majority opinion and how often the winning party gets more questions. Today we turn to three more issues we analyzed earlier this fall in our discussion of civil oral arguments.
In Table 115 below, we address how likely the first questioner to each side is the author of the majority opinion. The first question is fairly likely to come from the author of the majority opinion in one type of case – but interestingly, it’s affirmances. The first questioner is almost never the author of the majority opinion when the Court reverses.
In Table 116 below, we address whether cases where there was a dissent below tend to spark more questions in oral argument at the Supreme Court. The answer is, in general, no. Cases which were unanimous at the Appellate Court have averaged only a bit less than 20 questions to both sides, while divided decisions from the Appellate Court have sparked an average of only fifteen. Although questions to appellants are roughly equal, appellees have been questioned significantly more in cases which were unanimous below.
In Table 117, we address whether cases from particular districts and divisions of the Appellate Court tend to bring more questions at the Supreme Court. Although the data should be treated with some caution given that we’re not talking about a lot of cases in each district, there is some indication that the Appellate Court district may have an influence. Division Two of the First District has averaged the most questions at oral argument, with the Fourth, Third and Second Districts close behind. Cases from Divisions 3, 5 and 6 of the First District have averaged the fewest number of questions.
Join us back here next week as we continue our review of the Illinois Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the criminal cases decided so far in 2015.