Last time, we surveyed the academic research applying analytics techniques to appellate oral arguments and then reviewed the data for civil arguments at the Supreme Court since 2008. In this post, we’re reviewing the data for the same period on the criminal side of the docket.
Since the Court began posting arguments in 2008 through the end of August 2020, the Supreme Court has asked counsel 11,580 questions in criminal cases – 6,567 to appellants and 5,013 to appellees. Perhaps because criminal defendants are the appellants in most criminal cases the Court hears, appellants have received more questions across the entire criminal docket each year since 2008.
Next, we divide the criminal case data between affirmances in Table 1669 and partial and complete reversals in Table 1670. For affirmances, losing appellants received more questions than winning appellees in every year.
Now we review the data for average questions each year to each side in criminal reversals – (losing) appellees versus (winning) appellants. Once again, the relationship is what we expect: in eleven of thirteen years, the losing appellees averaged more questions than winning appellants.
Join us back here next week as we continue our analysis of the oral argument numbers.