Today, we conclude the first stage in our review of how the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court have fared at the Illinois Supreme Court with a look at the Appellate Court’s reversal rate in criminal cases between 2011 and 2015.
In Table 277 below, we report the overall statewide reversal rate for criminal cases. Reversals continued their trend from the previous five years in 2011 and 2012, with 51.06% of all criminal cases ending in reversal in 2011 and 51.52% in 2012. In the years since, the reversal rate has become a bit more unstable, jumping to 60.53% in 2013, falling back to only 41.18% in 2014 and then rising back to 69.7% last year.
Because a significant fraction of the Court’s criminal docket tends to come from the First District, it’s not surprising that reversal rates in the Divisions of the First District don’t deviate much from the statewide averages. For the period, only Division One (well below the statewide reversal rates between 2006 and 2010) spent most of the period with a reversal rate above the statewide figure – only 30% in 2011 and 42.86% in 2012, but 80% in 2013 and 100% in each of the two most recent years. Division Two’s reversal rate was comparatively low in 2011 and 2012 (33.3% and 25, respectively), before matching the statewide average the next two years (50% in 2013 and 60% in 2014), and jumping ahead last year at 66.67%. Division Three was slightly above the statewide rate in 2011 and a bit below the following year before staying quite close to it in the three most recent years. The reversal rate in Division Four spiked in 2011 and 2013 (70% and 62.5%, respectively), but was right around the statewide average every other year in the period (57.14% in 2012 and 2014, 50% in 2015). Only Divisions Five and Six have been under the statewide average for the most of the period; Division Five had a reversal rate of 50% in 2012 and 2014, a rate of 40% in 2013 and a reversal rate of only 20% in 2015. Division Six had a reversal rate of one-third in 2011 and zero in 2012, but has risen somewhat in the years since – to 40% in 2013, half in 2014 and 62.5% last year.
We report the reversal rates for the remaining Districts of the Appellate Court in Table 279 below. Many of the Districts out in the state had reversal rates above the statewide average for much of the time between 2011 and 2015. The Third District’s reversal rate was between 60% and two-thirds in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. The reversal rate in the Fifth District was only half in 2011 and 2012, before rising to 100% in 2013, 83.33% in 2014 and three-quarters last year. Most recently, the Court has reversed three-quarters of direct appeals (2013 and 2015) and two-thirds in 2014.
The reversal rate for the Fourth District, on the other hand, tended to be right at the statewide average, coming in between 42% and 46% in 2011, 2012 and 2015, and only slightly higher in 2013. Similarly, the reversal rate in criminal cases from the First District which we couldn’t attribute to a Division was between forty and fifty percent from 2011 through 2014. Only District Two remained below the overall reversal rate in recent years – 47.83% in 2011 and half in 2012, but only 28.57$ in 2013, 15.38% in 2014 and 30.77% in 2015.
Join us back here next Tuesday as we begin to address the Court’s handling of petitions for leave to appeal in civil and criminal cases.