For the past several weeks, we’ve been doing a quick review of oral arguments in cases decided by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015, evaluating whether the Justices’ questioning patterns differ from their civil arguments. Today, we finish our aggregate statistics and make a start on our Justice-by-Justice comparisons.
In Table 121 below, we see the data on which Justice asks the first question of appellant. Justice Thomas has asked the first question in somewhat more than one-third of all cases decided in 2015. Justices Burke and Freeman are tied at 15.63% of the Court’s cases, with Justice Theis not far behind.
In Table 122 below, we report the data on which Justice most frequently asks the first question of appellees. Justice Thomas is by far the most frequent first questioner, followed (relatively far behind) by Justice Theis and Chief Justice Garman.
In Table 123, we see the data on question patterns in rebuttals in 2015 criminal cases. By far the most frequent first questioner is . . . nobody – in 40% of all criminal cases, there were no questions during rebuttal. Justice Theis was second, with Justice Thomas third and all the other Justices well behind.
Next, we begin reviewing the individual Justices’ questioning patterns. In Table 124, we report the data on Justice Burke’s patterns when voting with the majority. When the Court is voting to reverse (with Justice Burke joining), writing appears to have at least some impact on Justice Burke’s questioning patterns. She averages 1 question per argument to appellants and 0.42 questions to appellees when not writing. She averages 1 question to appellants in cases where she’s writing the majority opinion, and 2 questions to appellees. Justice Burke has written no opinions in 2015 when she joined the majority in an affirmance.
In Table 125, we report the data on cases in which Justice Burke voted with the minority. At least with appellants when the Court reversed and Justice Burke voted to affirm, once again writing had an impact – she averaged four questions to appellants when not writing, but five in cases when she dissented. Justice Burke asked no questions of appellees when she voted with the minority to affirm, nor of either side when she was in the minority to reverse.
In Table 126 below, we report the data from cases in which Justice Kilbride voted with the majority. Although Justice Kilbride has asked very few questions in cases decided this year, in cases where Justice Kilbride voted with the majority to affirm, writing an opinion had a significant effect in questioning to the appellant. Justice Kilbride averaged 0.2 questions to appellants in cases where he wasn’t writing, but 0.67 questions when he was writing the majority opinion. Justice Kilbride has asked no questions of either side in cases where he voted with the minority.
Join us back here next week as we continue our Justice-by-Justice review with the questioning patterns of Justices Freeman and Thomas and Chief Justice Garman.