Yesterday, we began a comprehensive review of the data regarding reversal rates for the Appellate Courts at the Illinois Supreme Court with civil cases between 2000 and 2005. Today, we turn to reversal rates in criminal cases.
In Table 265, we report the statewide reversal rate in criminal cases. We saw yesterday that statewide reversal rates in civil cases were typically between 55 and 60%. We see below that the reversal rate in criminal cases was fairly consistently ten to twenty points lower. With the exception of the 2003-2004 period – when the reversal rate dropped to 40% and then rose to a high of 56.14% – the Court’s reversal rate varied in a narrow band, from 42% to 47%.
In Table 266, we report the three-year floating reversal rates for criminal cases from the First District. Aside from Division Three, the reversal rates for every Division are well above the state-wide average during this period. The reversal rate in Division 1 was 80% in 2002, 100% the following year and 80% the year after. The reversal rate in Division 2 was 100% from 2002 through 2004. The reversal rate in Division 5 was two-thirds in 2002 and 2003, and three-quarters the next two years. Although it dropped to zero in 2005, the reversal rate in Division 6 was well above the statewide average from 2002 through 2004 as well.
The data for the remaining Districts is reported in Table 267 (the data labeled “Division 1” is unpublished cases from the First District for which we were unable to assign a specific Division). Reversal rates for Districts Three and Five are significantly above the statewide average; the reversal rate in the Third District reaches a high of 65.52% in 2004, while the Fifth District’s reversal rate tops out at 69.23% in 2005. The reversal rate in the Fourth District was well above average in 2002 at 64.29% before dropping to the statewide average (and even slightly below that) in the years that followed. The handling of direct appeals differs sharply on the criminal side from the civil side. Where direct appeals frequently resulted in reversals on the civil side, the reversal rate on the criminal side varied narrowly at a much lower level – from a low of 30.55% in 2003 to a high of 39.47% in 2005. The best performing District during this initial period was certainly the Second (one of the most often reversed Districts on the civil side) – the three-year floating reversal rate rose to 48% in 2004, but was between 34.78% (2003) and 38.46% (2005) in each of the remaining years, ten points below the statewide average.
Join us back here next week when we’ll turn our attention to the years 2006 through 2010.