Yesterday, we began our analysis of the Illinois Supreme Court’s civil docket during the second five years of our period of study, 2005-2009. Today, we continue that study by addressing whether the Court tended to reverse either pro-defendant or pro-plaintiff decisions at a higher rate in any particular area of the law during those years.
Overall, the Court tended to reverse pro-plaintiff decisions at a somewhat higher rate, with the reversal rate of liberal Appellate Court decisions exceeding the conservative rate for eleven of nineteen areas of law. In tort law, the Court’s most common area, the Court reversed 69.23% of pro-plaintiff decisions, but only half of pro-defendant ones. The Court reversed slightly more conservative civil procedure decisions than liberal ones – 70% to 61.54%. The reversal rate on decisions in government and administrative law was quite low – one-third of liberal decisions, no conservative ones. In the area of domestic relations, the Court reversed 60% of pro-plaintiff decisions, but all of the pro-defendant ones. On the other hand, the Court reversed every one of its pro-plaintiff employment law decisions, but only two-thirds of the pro-defendant ones. The Court reversed no decisions which favored the employee in workers’ compensation matters, but reversed 57.14% of the time in decisions favoring the employer. The Court also inclined in a conservative direction in insurance law cases, reversing 77.78% of decisions in which the plaintiff had prevailed below, but only 30% of decisions where the defendant had prevailed.
Not surprisingly, given the Court’s conservative bent in matters of constitutional law, the Court reversed half of all pro-defendant cases in that area, but 72.73% of all decisions favoring plaintiffs below. Similarly, the Court reversed every one of the cases it heard in consumer law where the plaintiff had won at the Appellate Court, but only 40% of decisions favoring the defendant.
Join us back here next week, as we turn to a close analysis of the Court’s criminal docket between 2005 and 2009.