For the past several weeks, we’ve been taking a close look at reversal rates at the Illinois Supreme Court, analyzing two questions: (1) has the Court reviewed more defendant wins or plaintiff wins from the Appellate Court in each area of law; and (2) do the Court’s reversal rates differ significantly depending on the area of law. Today, we begin the final phase of our analysis, turning to the Court’s caseload from 2010 to 2015.
In Table 316 below, we report the percentage share of the docket accounted for by each area of the law for the civil docket between 2010 and 2015. Tort was down slightly, but still dominated the civil docket, accounting for 20.37% of the caseload. Civil procedure was second and up significantly from 2005-2009, rising from 10.41% to 16.2% of the docket. Government and administrative law, traditionally one of the three top areas in civil law, was up substantially too, going from 6.79% of the docket between 2005 and 2009 to 11.57% for the years 2010-2015. Domestic relations and constitutional law were next, both at 8.8% of the civil docket; that’s a small increase for domestic relations cases, but a small drop in constitutional law. Insurance law was down slightly from 8.6% of the docket to 5.09%. Public employee pension cases were 4.63% of the civil docket, up sharply from the five previous years. Tax law cases were down slightly at 4.17% of the docket. Election law was flat at 3.24% of the docket, and employment law was a bit down, also at 3.24%. Secured transactions were up significantly, accounting for 2.78% of the docket. The Court also heard five workers’ compensation cases and five cases involving property law.
We report the breakdown between defendant wins and plaintiff wins from the Appellate Court in Table 317 below, divided by area of law. Between 2005 and 2009, the Court heard more defendant wins than plaintiff wins in a majority of areas of law. That shifted between 2010 and 2015 – the Court heard more plaintiff wins in 14 of 19 areas of civil law. In the leading area of law – tort – 72.73% of the Court’s cases were plaintiff wins below. In civil procedure, 57.14% of the Court’s cases were plaintiff wins below, and in the next most common area, government and administrative law, 52% of the caseload were plaintiff wins. A majority of domestic relations and constitutional law cases were plaintiff wins at the Appellate Court too – 57.89% of domestic relations cases and 63.15% of government cases. Insurance was the next most common item on the docket, and 81.82% of the cases were plaintiff wins below. Three-fifths of all public employee pension cases were plaintiff wins below. The next two areas of law are the first two where a majority of the caseload has been defendant wins below – only 22.22% of the tax cases were plaintiff wins, and 28.57% of the election law cases were. Two thirds of the Court’s secured transactions cases were plaintiff wins below, and sixty percent each of the workers’ compensation and property cases were.
Join us back here tomorrow and we’ll turn to an analysis of the area-by-area reversal rates for the civil docket between 2010 and 2015.