Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at how the Supreme Court’s civil docket is distributed among the Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court. This week and next, we’ll turn our attention to the Court’s criminal caseload.
We’ve speculated in past posts that population distribution might be a rough approximator for how the Court’s caseload is distributed among the Districts. If that’s so, then the First District (which exclusively consists of Cook County) was significantly underrepresented on the Court’s criminal docket for the years 1990 through 1996. According to the 1990 census, Cook County accounted for 44.66% of Illinois’ population. But only 96 of the 461 criminal cases the Court decided between 1990 and 1996 – 20.82% – came from the First District. Division One contributed three cases in 1992, two in 1990, 1991 and 1993 and one in 1995. The Court decided four cases From Division Two in 1991, three in 1994 and 1995, two in 1996 and one in 1993. Division Three was the most heavily represented Division of the First District, producing five cases in 1993, three in 1990, 1991 and 1994, two in 1995 and 1996 and one in 1993. Division Four accounted for two cases in 1992 and 1995 and one in 1990 and 1996. Division Five produced four cases in 1990 and 1992, two in 1991, 1994 and 1995, and one in 1996. Division Six produced two cases in 1991, 1995 and 1996 and one in 1992 and 1993. Given that the Court frequently hears unpublished criminal decisions from the Appellate Court, it’s not surprising that it was impossible to attribute a number of cases to a particular Division – seven in 1995, six in 1993, five in 1992, three in 1990, two in 1994 and one each in 1991 and 1996.
The Second District accounted for even less of the Court’s criminal docket than the First District did. The Court decided thirteen criminal cases from the Second in 1992, eight per year in 1994 and 1995, six in 1991, five in 1993 and four in 1990 and 1996. The Court decided eight cases from the Third District in 1990 and 1992, seven in 1991, five in 1995, three in 1993 and 1996 and two in 1994. The Court decided four cases per year from the Fourth District in 1992 and 1994, and three each in 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1996. The Court decided nine cases from the Fifth District in 1990, five per year in 1992 and 1994, three in 1993 and 1996, two in 1992 and one in 1995.
Because during this period the Court was hearing death penalty appeals and cases where statutes were struck down as direct appeals (it only hears the latter today), direct appeals formed a substantial part of the docket. The Court decided twenty-four in 1990, twenty-three in 1991, thirty-nine in 1992, sixteen in 1993, thirty-four in 1994, forty-two in 1995 and thirty-two in 1996. The Court heard only two appeals arising from its original jurisdiction – one in 1990 and one in 1992. The Court decided six cases from the Bar Court in 1990, five in 1991, two per year in 1992, 1993 and 1994, and one in 1995. The Court decided no certified question appeals during this period.
Join us tomorrow as we review the data for the Court’s criminal docket between 1997 and 2003.