Yesterday, we took an in-depth look at the Court’s tort law caseload.  We showed that the Court has both accepted for review a larger share of plaintiffs’ wins from the Appellate Court than defense wins, and has reversed those plaintiffs’ wins more often.  Today, we’re taking another look at the Court’s death penalty cases.

Overall, the Court decided 206 death penalty cases.  It reversed completely in 34 cases; reversed in part, including the death penalty in another 32, reversed in part but affirmed the penalty in 15, and affirmed entirely in 125 cases.  This translates to an outright reversal rate of 16.5%; a penalty reversal rate (Rev + ARL in the table) of 32.03%, and an overall reversal rate (Rev + ARL + ARC) of 39.32%.

We report the data for the years 1990-1996 in Table 741 below.  In 1990, the Court reversed in whole or in part in 9 of 15 death penalty cases.  Between 1991 and 1996, the reversal rate fell to very close to the rate for the entire period – the Court reversed in whole or in part in 35.58% of its death penalty cases.

We report the yearly data for 1997-2003 in Table 742 below.  For the period, the outright reversal rate was 15.49% – slightly below the rate for the entire period.  The Court reversed the death penalty in 36.62% of cases.  The Court’s overall reversal rate for this period was 42.23%.

The Court’s death penalty caseload slowed significantly in the years leading up to abolition.  Between 2004 and 2010, the Court reversed outright in 18.75% of cases.  It reversed the penalty in 25% of cases.  The overall reversal rate for the last seven years before abolition was 31.25%.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to two new areas of law on the Court’s civil and criminal dockets.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Nick Fewings (no changes).