For the past few weeks, we’ve been refining simple reversal rates – the most often-used measure of how an intermediate appellate court has fared before the Supreme Court – by tracking the average votes to affirm each District and Division of the Appellate Court. This week, we’re looking at the criminal docket between 2005 and 2009.
Direct appeals from the Circuit Court led among non-unanimous decisions for these years, averaging 4.86 votes to affirm. Divisions One and Four of the First District and the Fourth and Fifth District were next, each averaging four votes in cases which divided the Supreme Court. Cases from the First District which we were unable to attribute to a particular Division averaged 3.83 votes to affirm in non-unanimous cases. Divisions Three and Six of the First District averaged 3.33 votes. The Third District was next, averaging 3.13 votes to affirm. Division Two of the First District averaged only three votes to affirm. The Second District was second from last among the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court, averaging 2.11 votes to affirm in non-unanimous. Finally, Division Five of the First District averaged two votes.
On the other hand, Division Six of the First District led among cases decided unanimously by the Supreme Court, averaging 4.2 votes to affirm. The Second and Fourth Districts were right behind at 4.11 and 4.1 votes, respectively. Division One of the First District averaged 3.86 votes, followed by Divisions Two and Five of the First District at 3.5 each. The Third District and unattributed cases from the First District were next, averaging 2.9 and 2.85 votes to affirm. Direct appeals from the Circuit Court, which had the highest average votes to affirm among non-unanimous decisions, were next, averaging 2.7 votes to affirm. The remaining Districts and Divisions all had lower votes to affirm for unanimous decisions than any District had among non-unanimous decisions – we’ll see tomorrow whether this suggests a high number of unanimous reversals. Divisions Four and Three of the First District averaged 1.3 and 1.17 votes to affirm, respectively. Finally, the Fifth District had an average of zero votes to affirm among unanimous decisions.
Join us back here tomorrow as we address the share of each District and Division’s criminal cases which resulted in unanimous reversals for these five years.