Today, we conclude our Justice-by-Justice review of the question patterns of the Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court. We’ve been looking for evidence that it’s possible to predict the Justices’ likely votes and whether the Justice is writing an opinion based on close observation of oral argument. In our final post of this phase of our analysis, we wrap up our look of former Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald’s question patterns.
As we discussed last week, our analysis is simplified by the fact that former Chief Justice Fitzgerald voted with the majority in 87 of the 88 civil cases he sat and voted on between 2008 and 2010. In Table 105 below, we show the data for former Chief Justice Fitzgerald as the first questioner in cases where he voted with the majority. An active questioner, former Chief Justice Fitzgerald was significantly more likely to ask the first question of appellants than he was of appellees, regardless of which side won the case. In all cases, writing the majority opinion had a substantial impact on Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s likelihood of asking the first question. He was nearly twice as likely to be the first questioner of appellants when he wrote the majority opinion reversing, and more than twice as likely to be the first questioner of appellees in such cases. Writing the majority opinion in affirmances had somewhat less impact on his question patterns, but still, it was significantly more likely that Chief Justice Fitzgerald was writing the majority opinion in cases where he asked the first question.
Join us back here tomorrow as we begin a comparison of our conclusions about oral argument in the Court’s 233 civil cases between 2008 and 2014 to the Court’s 2015 oral arguments in criminal, juvenile and disciplinary cases.