This time, we’re reviewing the Court’s docket data on the criminal (quasi-criminal, juvenile justice and mental health) side of the docket, calculating the percentage of cases year-by-year that arose from final judgments. Although it’s a minimal issue for this period since the death penalty was abolished in Illinois in 2011, we separate out the death cases – so for 2010 we report the share of the docket accounted for by final judgments and death penalty appeals.
Until 2020, the share has been remarkably stable across the past eleven years. In 2010, 56.36% of the docket was either final judgments or death cases. That fell to 48.48% in 2012 and only 38.24% by 2014, but then increased to 42.42% in 2015, 51.43% in 2016 and 52.94% in 2017. The share fell off a bit in 2017 (46.15%) and 2018 (47.62%) but jumped all the way to 67.86% in 2020.
Since 1990, the Supreme Court has decided 1,614 criminal cases. One hundred ninety seven were death penalty appeals and an additional 628 were decisions from the Appellate Court that arose from final judgments. So for the full thirty-one years, the share of the docket accounted for by final judgments only was 38.91%. Add the death penalty appeals back in for the years before 2011, and the share jumps to 51.12%.
Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to a new topic.