Yesterday, we looked at how large a share of the Court’s civil docket since 1990 has been accounted for by cases which were published at the Appellate Court.  Although there have been spikes in both directions from time to time, we showed that typically, 60-80% of the court’s civil cases were published below.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal side of the docket.

In Table 680, we report the raw numbers – criminal law decisions which were published below.  As you can see, the criminal docket is somewhat less dependent on published cases than the civil docket is.  In 1990, 31 of the criminal cases were published below.  In 1991, 28 were, and in 1992, 41 were.  But for the nine years that followed – from 1993 to 2001 – there were typically twenty or so published decisions a year.  In 2002, the figure jumped to 31.  In 2004, 42 criminal decisions were published below.  In 2005 and 2006, the number was 38 and 32, respectively.  Since then, for the most part, the data has reverted to trend.  In 2007, 15 criminal decisions were published below.  From 2008 to 2010, the number was up – 27 in 2008, 29 in 2009 and 33 in 2010 – but ever since that time, it’s back to trend.  In 2011, 2013 and 2014, 23 cases were published per year.  In 2012 and 2015, 19 cases were published each year.  In 2016 and 2017, 22 of the court’s criminal cases were published below.

On the civil side, we saw what initially appeared to be a long-term decline in the number of published Appellate Court decisions being decided by the Supreme Court – a decline which pretty much disappeared when we looked at published decisions as a fraction of the docket.  As you can see in Table 681 below, on the criminal side, there seems to be a persistent increase in the share of the docket accounted for by published cases below.

From 1990 to 1994, published Appellate Court decisions were between forty and fifty percent of the criminal docket – 44.93% in 1990, 48.28% in 1991, 44.57% in 1992, 41.86% in 1993 and 40% in 1994.  In 1995, 29.11% of the docket was published below.  In 1996, only 24.07% was.  The number jumped to 34.92% in 1997, but fell back to 22.22% in 1998, and – after another one-year spike – 22.09% in 2000.  In 2001, 32.76% of the criminal docket was published below.  In 2002, 44.29% was, and in 2003, 35.38% was.

In 2004, we see the beginning of a persistent upswing in the fraction of the criminal docket accounted for by published cases.  That year, 67.74% of the docket was published below.  The figure was almost identical in 2005 and 2006 – 64.41% and 64%, respectively.  In 2007, 53.57% of the docket was published.  In 2008, 54% was.  In 2009, 55.77% of the docket was published below, and in 2010, 60% was.  After a two year dip to 47.92% in 2011 and 57.58% in 2012, the share of the criminal docket accounted for by published cases has stayed steady – 60.53% in 2013, 67.65% in 2014, 57.58% in 2015, 62.86% in 2016 and 64.71% in 2017.

Join us back here next week as we continue our analysis of the Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Geoff Livingston (no changes).