Yesterday, we continued our analysis of the Illinois Supreme Court’s time under submission from 2008 to the end of 2015, looking at whether unanimous decisions are generally under submission for substantially less time than non-unanimous ones. Today, we address the year-by-year data for the criminal docket. The numbers demonstrate that although, all things being equal, a case pending for substantially longer is more likely to be a divided decision, there are exceptions in nearly every year.
We report the data for 2008 in Table 247 below. The lag time for virtually every unanimous decision that year was below the lag time for the relatively few non-unanimous decisions.
Lag times for non-unanimous decisions converged somewhat towards unanimous decisions in 2009, with unanimous case lag times ranking a bit higher in several cases. Note that there is considerably more variation in non-unanimous cases, with lag times varying from a low of 86 to a high of 582 days.
Lag times for non-unanimous criminal decisions were once again quite variable in 2010, ranging from a low of 93 to a high of 639 days. Lag times for unanimous decisions were generally lower, and varied from a low of 57 days to a high of 317.
In 2011, lag times for non-unanimous decisions remained consistently higher than lag times for unanimously decided cases. Non-unanimous decisions varied from 86 to 554 days, while unanimous decisions ranged from a low of 77 days to a high of 255.
Although the variability of non-unanimous decisions decreased somewhat in 2011, it was still considerably greater than the unanimously decided cases. Still, only a scattered few unanimous decisions were pending for as long as the most quickly decided non-unanimous decisions. Non-unanimous decisions ranged from a low of 94 days to a single decision topping out at 442 days, while unanimous decisions varied little – from a low of 64 days to a high of 156 days.
In 2013, non-unanimous and unanimous decisions began to converge, with the lag time for the quicker non-unanimous roughly equal to the higher unanimous decisions. Non-unanimous decisions varied by a lesser factor, ranging from a low of 86 days to a high of 366 days. Unanimous decisions, on the other hand, ranged from a low of 57 days to a high of 261 days.
In 2014, nearly every one of the Court’s non-unanimous criminal cases were pending for more time than the longest-pending unanimous decisions. With the exception of one outlier non-unanimous decision which was pending for 402 days, non-unanimous decisions varied only from a low of 100 days to a high of 202. Unanimous decisions ranged from 56 days to 135, but the vast majority were in a narrow band, pending from 70 to 100 days.
But once again in 2015, the numbers converged. Non-unanimous decisions were pending for a low of 86 days to a high of 253, while unanimous decisions were pending for a low of only 35 days to a high of 376 days.
Join us back here next week as we turn to another issue – the Illinois Supreme Court’s unanimity rate in civil and criminal cases.