Last week, we reviewed the data for what percentage of the Court’s civil cases had a dissenter or were published below. This week, we’re looking at the same question for the criminal side.
Between 1990 and 1994, nearly as many criminal cases as civil cases had a dissenter below – 21.74% (1990), 25.86% (1991), 11.96% (1992), 23.26% (1993) and 15.38% (1994). But for the four years that followed, the Court concentrated its attention almost entirely on unanimous decisions from the Appellate Court: 3.8% (1995), 1.85% (1996), 9.52% (1997), 6.94% (1998). In 1999, 13.21% of the Court’s criminal decisions were non-unanimous below.
From 2000 to 2002, the percentage of non-unanimous decisions remained very low: 6.98% (2000), 8.62% (2001), 10% (2002) and 13.85% (2003). For the rest of the decade, the percentage rose to something close to the fraction for civil cases – 29.03% (2004), 27.12% (2005), 22% (2006), 28.57% (2007), 26% (2008) and 11.54% (2009).
Between 2010 and this year, there hasn’t been much difference between the fraction of non-unanimous decisions on the criminal and civil sides. In 2010, 32.73% of the criminal cases had dissents below. In 2011, it was 25%, and in 2012, it was 27.27%. In 2013, 13.16% of the criminal cases had a dissenter below. In 2014, the fraction rose to 23.53%; the following year, one-third of the Court’s criminal cases had a dissenter below. In 2016, 20% of the Court’s criminal cases were non-unanimous below. In 2017, 20.59% were. Last year, 30.77% of the criminal cases had a dissenter below. So far this year, that number has fallen to 14.29%.
In our final table, we report the entire thirty years in a single graph to show long-term trends. What this reflects is that although the percentage of non-unanimous decisions from the Appellate Court varies widely from year to year, for about two-thirds of the time we’re studying – 1990-1994 and 2003-2019 – dissents at the Appellate Court were roughly as common on the criminal docket as they were on the civil docket, with twenty to thirty percent of the Court’s cases being non-unanimous below.
Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data for publication of criminal cases at the Appellate Court.