This week, we’re looking at the reversal rate data for the criminal side of the docket. Once again, we’re using three-year floating average to tamp down wild swings in the data from year to year (at least a bit), and to avoid needless complexity in the math, we count a case as a reversal when the decision below was affirmed in part and reversed in part. In the first Table, we report the reversal rates for the years 1992 to 2000.
Three Divisions reached 100% reversal during these years: Division One in 1996, Division Four in 1996 and 2000, and Division Six in 1999. But these were outlier years for the most part. Division One was in the forty-to-sixty range from 1992 to 1995 and dropped to 33.33% in 1997 and 2000 and zero in 1998 and 1999. Division Three’s reversal rate was in the eighties in 1992 and 1996 and in the sixties 1993-1995 and 1997 before tailing off at the end of the decade. Division Six had a reversal rate of 50% in 1993 and 1994, 33.33% in 1995 and 1998, and only 25% in 1996 and 1997.
Reversal rates were somewhat less stable between 2001 and 2009. Division One rose to 100% in 2003 and 2007. Division Two was at 100% every year from 2001 to 2004 before falling steadily for the rest of the decade. Division Three was at the long-term overall trend level of 45-65% reversal for most of the period before rising a bit 2007-2009. Divisions Four and Five both had outlier years where their reversal rate jumped to 100% – Division Four in 2001 and 2002 and Division Five in 2004 and 2005. Division Six was up to 100% in 2003 but dropped to zero only two years later.
In our final table, we report the 3-year floating average reversal rates for the years 2010 through 2019. For the most part, the First District has been doing relatively well in criminal cases during these years, with reversal rates for the most part at or below the long-term average. The only real exception to this is Division One, which has had a higher rate recently: 80% (2013), 100% (2014 & 2015), 66.67% (2016 & 2017) 70% (2018) and 100% (2019).
Join us back here next time as we address the reversal rates for the rest of the Districts, plus direct criminal appeals from the trial courts.