Yesterday, we gathered up our last several weeks’ work to assess the performance of the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court in civil cases before the Illinois Supreme Court. Today, we review the criminal docket.
The same court led among non-unanimous criminal decisions that led for non-unanimous civil cases – Division Five of the First District, which averaged four votes to affirm. Totals were less dispersed on the criminal side that on the civil; three quarters of the state averaged between three and four votes to affirm in non-unanimous cases. Division One of the First District was second behind Division Five at 3.67 votes. Division Two was just behind them at 3.6. The Second District, unattributed cases from the First District and cases from Division Three of the First District were closely bunched at 3.32 votes, 3.29 votes and 3.27 votes to affirm. Division Four of the First District averaged 3.17 votes, followed by the Fifth District at 3.09 and Division Six of the First District at 3. Only three courts averaged less than three votes to affirm in non-unanimous decisions: the Third District (2.85), the Fourth District (2.77) and direct appeals from the Circuit Court, which averaged only 2.28 votes to affirm.
Unanimous criminal decisions were dispersed, with half the Districts averaging more votes to affirm in unanimously decided cases and half fewer. Division Six of the First District led, averaging 4.28 votes to affirm in criminal cases decided unanimously 2000-2015. The Second District was second at 3.94 votes, followed by unattributed cases from the First District at 3.51 and decisions from Division Five at 3.5. Division Four averaged 3.33 votes to affirm, with Division Three of the First District right behind at 3.27. In a mild surprise, direct appeals fared a bit better on the criminal side than on the civil, averaging 3.04 votes to affirm. The five remaining courts all averaged between two and three votes to affirm: Division One of the First District (2.89); the Fifth District (2.62); the Third District (2.53); Division Two of the First District (2.47); and finally, Division Four of the First District at 2.14 votes to affirm.
We report the percentage of criminal cases unanimously reversed in Table 337 below. Two courts had over half of their criminal decisions reviewed by the Court unanimously reversed – Division Four of the First District (57.14%) and Division Two (50%). Four courts averaged between forty and fifty percent unanimous reversals: the Third District (48.7%); Division One of the First District (44%), Division Three of the First District (41.46%) and the Fifth District (40.63%). The Fourth District and unattributed cases from the First District were next, averaging 38.46% and 38.1% unanimous reversals. The Second District fared well, averaging only 32.11% unanimous reversals, and Division Five averaged only 30%. The two leading courts in this category in the criminal docket were Division Six of the First District, which saw only 28% of its criminal decisions unanimously reversed, and direct appeals, only 25.93% of which ended in unanimous reversals.
So where does all this leave us? For the entire sixteen years, civil decisions have fared a bit better than criminal ones for Division Four of the First District, unattributed decisions of the First District and the Third and Fourth Districts. Criminal decisions have fared slightly better from Divisions Two and Six of the First District and the Second and Fifth Districts. The two sides of the docket have been quite close for decisions from Divisions One, Three and Five of the First District.
Join us back here next Tuesday as we begin another topic: the evolving length of the Court’s majority, special concurrence and dissenting opinions in civil and criminal cases.