Archives: Length of Opinions

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Who Wrote the Longest Majority Opinions in Civil Cases (Part 1)?

For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking for insights into the Court’s decision-making processes by reviewing the data for the length of the Court’s opinions.  This week and next, we’re looking at a related question: which Justices tended to write the longest and shortest majority opinions.  This week, the civil side.  We’ll take the … Continue Reading

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Criminal Cases (2004-2018)?

Yesterday, we showed that in contrast to our result in civil cases, when majority opinions reversing tended most years to be longer than majority opinions affirming, the opposite was generally true in criminal cases – between 1990 and 2003, affirmances were longer.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 to 2018. In 2004, reversals were … Continue Reading

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Criminal Cases (1990-2003)?

Last time, we took our first look at a new question: do majority opinions in civil cases tend to be longer when the Court reverses than when it affirms?  The answer, for a substantial majority of years, was yes.  So today and tomorrow, we’re looking at the flipside: are reversals longer in criminal cases too?  … Continue Reading

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Civil Cases (2004-2018)?

Last time, we began looking at a new question: are majority opinions reversing the Appellate Court on average longer than majorities affirming the result below?  Between 1990 and 2003, the answer was, most of the time, yes.  This time, we’re looking at the data for civil cases between 2004 and 2018. In Table 965, we … Continue Reading

Does It Take More Pages to Reverse Than to Affirm in Civil Cases (1990-2003)?

I remember many years ago my first-year Criminal Law professor telling us that you can always tell within the first five pages how an appellate criminal law case involving violent crime will come out: if it reads like a slasher movie, the defendant has lost.  If you get well into the opinion and are wondering … Continue Reading

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we reviewed the Court’s year-by-year experience with the length of its opinions (majorities, special concurrences and dissents) in criminal cases for the years 1990 through 2003.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 through 2017. The average majority opinion declined in length after about 1996, and its downward drift continued during this period.  In … Continue Reading

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time (Part 1)?

Last week, we began our study of the length of the Court’s opinions since 1990 with a look at the civil docket, looking at such questions as whether opinions are getting consistently longer or shorter, and whether longer dissents are related, all other things being equal, to longer majority opinions.  This week, we’re looking at … Continue Reading

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Civil Cases Evolved Over Time (Part 2)?

In our last post, we addressed the yearly average length of the Court’s opinions in civil cases for the year 1990 through 2003.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 through 2017.  In doing so, we’re looking for evidence on two questions: first, are opinions getting shorter or longer over time; and second, do longer … Continue Reading

How Has the Length of the Court’s Opinions in Civil Cases Evolved Over Time (Part 1)?

This week, we take up a new topic: how has the length of the Court’s opinions – majority opinions, special concurrences and dissents – evolved over the past twenty-eight years?  We’ll review the civil docket this week – today on the years 1990-2003 and tomorrow on 2004-2017 – and then turn to the criminal docket … Continue Reading

Tracking the Justices’ Majority Opinions in Criminal Cases, 2005-2009

Last week, we began analyzing the Justices’ individual records, tracking whether any Justices tended to write longer or shorter majority opinions than other Justices do.  Today, we address the Court’s criminal opinions between 2005 and 2009. In Table 390, we review the distribution of majority opinions between 2005 and 2009 in the criminal docket.  Chief … Continue Reading

Tracking the Justices’ Majority Opinions in Civil Cases, 2005-2009

Last week, we turned our attention to the individual Justices’ records, analyzing whether any of the Justices tend to consistently write either longer or shorter majority opinions than other members of the Court do.  Today, we turn our attention to the Court’s civil opinions between 2005 and 2009. In Table 388, we review the data … Continue Reading

Tracking the Justices’ Majority Opinions in Criminal Cases, 2000-2004

Yesterday, we began our analysis of the individual Justices’ track records with respect to majority opinions, beginning with civil opinions between 2000 and 2004.  Today, we compare that data to the Justices’ opinions in criminal cases during the same years. Once again, we begin by reviewing the data we first reported a few weeks ago … Continue Reading

Tracking the Justices’ Majority Opinions in Civil Cases, 2000-2004

Today, we begin a new area in our analysis of the individual Justices’ records.  Do any of the Justices tend to write longer (or shorter) majority opinions, and how do the majority opinions in civil cases compare to the criminal majorities?  We begin by considering the civil opinions between 2000 and 2004. For context, we … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Special Concurrences Getting Longer in Criminal Cases?

Yesterday, we reviewed trends in the Illinois Supreme Court’s special concurrences in civil cases.  Today, we turn to the criminal docket. We report the data in Table 344 below.  We noted yesterday that special concurrences tended to be somewhat longer in non-unanimous decisions, speculating that concurrences might be used at times to respond to points … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Special Concurrences Getting Longer in Civil Cases?

Last week, we completed our examination of trends in the length of the Illinois Supreme Court’s majority opinions.  This week, we turn our attention to the Court’s special concurrences. First, a preliminary question.  Concurring opinions are a somewhat controversial subject in appellate law; some people have suggested that they tend to detract from the impact … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Majority Opinions Getting Longer in Criminal Cases (Part II)?

Today, we conclude our look at the evolution of the Court’s majority opinions with a look at the criminal docket between 2008 and 2015.  Last week, we observed two trends in the data.  First, majority opinions in non-unanimous decisions were consistently longer than majorities in unanimous decisions – and the margin between non-unanimous and unanimous … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Majority Opinions Getting Longer in Civil Cases (Part II)?

Last week, we started working on a new question – how has the length of the Illinois Supreme Court’s majority opinions evolved in civil and criminal cases since 2000?  Last week, we reviewed the years 2000-2007; this week, we’ll look at the years 2008 through 2015. The data for civil cases is reported in Table … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Majority Opinions Getting Longer in Criminal Cases (Part I)?

Yesterday, we began our analysis of how the Illinois Supreme Court’s majority opinions have changed in the past sixteen years with a look at the civil docket between 2000 and 2007.  Today, we review the data for the criminal docket during the same years. Once again, majority opinions in non-unanimous cases tended to be longer … Continue Reading

Are the Court’s Majority Opinions Getting Longer in Civil Cases (Part I)?

Today, we begin a new topic in our analysis of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision making – the average length of the Court’s majority, special concurrence and dissenting opinions. In Table 338 below, we report the average length of majority opinions in civil cases between 2000 and 2007, divided into non-unanimous and unanimous decisions of … Continue Reading

The Justices’ Dissents at the Illinois Supreme Court, 2010-2014

Last week, we began the final phase of our review of the Justices’ opinion writing with a look at the majority and concurring opinions for the years 2010 through 2014. Today, we turn to the Justices’ dissents. Between 2010 and 2014, the Justices filed dissents at a comparable rate to the 2005-2009 period. Chief Justice … Continue Reading

The Justices’ Special Concurrences at the Illinois Supreme Court, 2010-2014

Special concurrences have become slightly less common on the Court recently, but this is not an indication of any increase in the level of agreement among the Justices. On the contrary, as we noted above, the unanimity rate drifted somewhat lower during much of this period. Rather, most of the decrease is attributable to Justice … Continue Reading

The Justices’ Majority Opinions at the Illinois Supreme Court, 2010-2014

Last week, we took a close look at the individual Justices’ special concurrences and dissents in civil cases between 2005 and 2009. Today, we turn to the opinions written by the Justices during the most recent five years of our study period, 2010-2014. Justice Burke was the most frequent voice of the Court during the … Continue Reading

The Justices’ Dissents at the Illinois Supreme Court, 2005-2009

Yesterday, we continued our close look at the Justices’ writing during our second five year period with a review of the special concurrences between 2005 and 2009. Today, we turn to the Justices’ dissents. Given that special concurrences are generally written to express at least mild disagreement with the majority’s views, it is not surprising … Continue Reading

The Justices’ Special Concurrences at the Illinois Supreme Court, 2005-2009

Last week, we continued our close look at the individual Justices’ writing with a review of the majority opinions in civil cases between 2005 and 2009. This week, we consider which Justices wrote the longest and shortest (and most frequent) special concurrences and dissents during those years. Between 2005 and 2009, Justice Kilbride wrote the … Continue Reading
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