Last time, we reviewed the three-year floating reversal rate in civil cases from 1990 to 2017 of the Divisions of Chicago’s First District of the Appellate Court. This time, we’re turning our attention to the rest of the state. For Districts Two through Five, the highest long-term reversal rate was the Fifth District – 72.83% of the 173 civil cases the Court heard from the Fifth District. The Second District was the lowest rate – 53.73% of its 201 civil cases were reversed.
We begin with the Second District. For most of the period 1990-1997, the Court’s reversal rate was right around the long-term trend number. After two good years in 1999 and 2000 (36.67% and 44%), the number has been fairly close to average since, although the outlier years have almost all been above-average-reversal rates rather than below. Since 2003, the Court has had seven years in which its average crept up the high sixties or low seventies. Since 2014 however, the Court’s reversal rate has been consistently low – half in 2014 and 2015, 53.84% in 2016 and 30.77% in 2017.
The Third District’s overall civil reversal rate for the period was 56.3%. The rate was a bit high from 1992 to 1994, topping out at 76.19% in 1992, and after a three-year dip, was again above average from 1998 to 2000. The reversal rate dropped precipitously in 2001 and 2002, to 28.57% in 2001 and 25% in 2002, before briefly returning to about average between 2003 and 2005. The Third District’s reversal rate was significantly below average for most of the years 2006-2009 before settling back to roughly the trend number, excepting only a one-year spike in 2016 to 71.43%.
The Fourth District was right in the middle of the pack downstate, with 55.28% of its 161 civil cases between 1990 and 2017 being reversed. Aside from two outliers, 1992 (73.08%) and 1997 (73.68%), the Fourth District’s civil reversal rate was relatively close to average throughout the nineties, generally in the high fifties or low sixties. The rate was cyclical between 2000 and 2010: below average for 2000-2003; slightly above in 2004, below average again 2005-2007 and slightly above average in 2008 and 2009. The Fourth District had two very good years in 2011 and 2012 (45.45% and 30%, respectively), three average years for 2013-2015, and two more very good years in 2016 and 2017 (30% and 27.27%).
As we mentioned above, the Fifth District led the state between 1990 and 2017, with 72.83% of its 173 civil decisions which the Court agreed to hear being reversed in whole or in part. With the exception of 1992 (80.65%), the court’s reversal rate was fairly close to its long-term average from 1993 to 1998. After a one-year spike in 1999 (85%), the reversal rate was actually below average from 2002 to 2006 – generally in the low-to-mid sixties, not greatly different from the rest of the state. Things changed from 2009 to 2015, as the Fifth District’s civil decisions consistently had rough sledding: 90.91% in 2009; 92.31% in 2010; 85.71% in 2011; 78.57% in 2012; 81.82% in 2013; 90.91% in 2014 and 90% in 2015. But the rate fell significantly over the past two years to 64.29% in 2016 and 58.33% in 2017.
Finally, there’s civil cases which the Supreme Court accepts directly from the Circuit Courts. From 1990 to 2017, the Court heard 121 such cases, reversing in whole or in part in 66.94% of them. For the most part during the nineties, the three-year number was right around the long term average, peaking in 1992 at 78.26% and reaching its low in 1995 at 46.15%. The rate was consistently high between 2000 and 2004 – four years in the seventies, 2001 at 81.82%. Between 2005 and 2011, the rate was generally in the sixties, around average. It peaked again for one year in 2012 at 100% (but in fact, only one direct civil appeal was decided between 2010 and 2012, so it doesn’t mean much). In 2013, the Court heard one direct appeal and affirmed, explaining the zero three-year average for 2013. For 2014 and 2015, the three-year average reversal rate was two-thirds, before falling again to below average: 54.55% in 2016, only 44.44% last year.
Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to a new subject.