In criminal cases where the Chief Justice is voting with the majority, she tends to question the appellant more heavily regardless of the result – a break with the expected pattern. When joining an affirmance since the Court first started posting oral argument videos, she has averaged 1.71 questions to appellants and 1.08 to appellees. When joining a reversal, she has averaged 1.75 questions to appellants and 1.62 to appellees. When joining in a split result (“affirmed in part, reversed in part”), she has averaged 1.37 questions to appellants and 0.88 to appellees.
When Chief Justice Burke dissents from an affirmance or reversal, the pattern flips. When the majority affirms but she votes to reverse, she averages 3.54 questions to appellees and 1.35 to appellants. When the majority reverses but she votes to affirm, she averages 2 questions to appellants and only 1.18 to appellees.
When the majority affirms but the Chief Justice votes for a split decision, she averages 2.11 questions to appellants and 0.11 to appellees. When the majority reverses but she votes for a split decision, she averages 1 question to appellants, none to appellees. When the majority returns a split decision but the Chief Justice votes to reverse, she averages 3.5 questions to appellants and none to appellees. Finally, when the majority returns a split decision but the Chief Justice votes to affirm outright, she averages 0.8 questions to appellants and 0.6 to appellees.
Join us back here next week as we continue reviewing the individual Justices’ oral argument statistics.