Over the past two weeks, we’ve been taking a close look at reversal rates on the Illinois Supreme Court’s civil and criminal dockets, divided by area of the law. Today, we begin looking at the years 2005-2009.
Tort was slightly down during these years, comprising 22.62% of the civil docket. Civil procedure was still in double figures, accounting for 10.41% of the docket, but government and administrative law, which was second between 2000 and 2004, fell by more than half, accounting for only 6.79% of the docket during these years. Domestic relations was slightly down, also amounting to 6.79% of the civil docket. Workers compensation and employment law accounted for 4.98% of the docket each. Tax law accounted for 4.52% of the docket, and consumer law just slightly less at 4.07%. Property law was relatively flat at 3.17%, but election law was substantially up, also accounting for 3.17% of the Court’s civil docket. Public employee pensions and contract law were 2.71% of the Court’s civil docket apiece. Wills and estates accounted for 1.36%, and the remaining subjects – environmental law, secured transactions, arbitration and trusts law – were all below one percent of the civil docket.
Where the Court tended to review somewhat more pro-plaintiff decisions from the Appellate Court between 2000 and 2004, the opposite was true in the majority of areas of the law between 2005 and 2009. The Court averaged more pro-plaintiff than pro-defendant decisions in only eight of the nineteen areas of the civil law it decided. Tort, civil procedure and government and administrative law, the three most common subjects on the civil docket, each inclined only slightly towards pro-plaintiff decisions – 52% of tort decisions were liberal, 56.52% of civil procedure decisions and 60% of government and administrative law decisions. Two thirds of domestic relations decisions were pro-plaintiff, but only 36.36% of workers’ compensation decisions reviewed by the Court involved the employees prevailing below. Nearly all of the employment law cases the Court heard involved the employers prevailing below – only 18.18% of the employment docket involved liberal decisions below. In consumer law, 44.44% of the cases reviewed involved plaintiffs prevailing below. Property law was even lower – only 14.29% of the property law docket involved plaintiffs prevailing at the Appellate Court. Most of the Court’s contract law cases involved plaintiffs prevailing below – 83.33% – but the cases involving public employee pensions were evenly split, with exactly half involving employees prevailing below.
Join us back here tomorrow as we address reversal rates among the Court’s pro-plaintiff and pro-defendant cases, divided by area of law, for these years.