How Have Defendants Fared in Civil Constitutional Law Cases at the Supreme Court (Part 4)?

Today, we conclude our trip through the Court’s civil constitutional law cases.

Between 2014 and 2019, the Court has decided twenty-seven civil constitutional law cases: four in 2014, five in 2015, six in 2016, three in 2017, five in 2018 and two to date in 2019.

The Court tended to take slightly more plaintiffs wins from the Appellate Court during this period than defendants’ wins: fourteen wins for plaintiffs, eleven for defendants.  In 2014, the Court decided one plaintiffs win to three defense wins.  In 2015, the Court decided three plaintiffs wins to two defense wins.  In 2016, the Court decided five plaintiffs wins to only one defendants win.  In 2017, the Court decided two plaintiffs wins to one defendants win.  In 2018, the Court decided two plaintiffs wins to three defendants wins.  In 2019, the Court has decided one plaintiffs win and one defendants win.

Defendants who won at the Appellate Court had a difficult time at the Supreme Court, winning four while losing seven.

Plaintiffs who won below fared only a little better, winning eight and losing six.

Defendants overall have had a tough time at the Supreme Court in recent years, winning eleven cases while losing fourteen. 

Next, we review the specific areas in which the Court’s cases fell.  The Court decided four due process cases in 2014, two due process, two governmental and one judicial in 2015, five governmental and one judicial in 2016, three due process in 2017, four due process and one governmental in 2018 and one due process and one governmental so far in 2019.

Turning to the individual Justices’ records, Justice Theis cast the most votes for constitutional law defendants at thirteen, Justice Garman cast twelve, Justices Kilbride and Thomas has eleven votes, Justice Freeman had ten votes, Justice Karmeier had nine and Justice Burke had eight.  Justice Neville, who joined the Court in 2018, cast one vote for a defendant in a constitutional law case.

As for votes against constitutional law defendants, Justice Burke cast sixteen.  Chief Justice Karmeier had fifteen.  Justice Garman had thirteen.  Justices Kilbride, Thomas and Theis had twelve each.  Justice Freeman and ten, and Justice Neville had four.

From 1990 to 2019, defendants in civil constitutional law matters have won 57.76% of their cases.  Below, we report the Justices who voted for those defendants at a higher rate than the Court as a whole.  Justice Thomas is first at 60.53%, closely followed by Justice Garman at 60.49% and Justice Fitzgerald at 60%.  Justice Theis has voted for defendants in 59.38% of civil constitutional law cases, Justice Kilbride 59.26%, and Justices Miller and Ryan did so 58.33% of the time.  Note that four of the seven currently active Justices are on this list.

Finally, we report the much longer list of Justices who have supported defendants’ positions in civil constitutional law cases at a lesser rate than the Court as a whole.  Justice Karmeier has voted for defendants in 56.6% of cases.  Justices Stamos and Rarick are at 53.85%.  Justice McMorrow is at 53.41%, followed by Justice Freeman at 53.24% and Justice Clark at 52%.  Eight Justices were in the forties: Justices Burke (48.94%), Moran and Nickels (48%), Ward (46.15%), Heiple (44.93%), Bilandic (44.44%), Harrison (43.75%) and Rathje (42.86%).  Justice Calvo voted for defendants in only 38.46% of cases and Justice Cunningham in 30.77%.  In his very limited time on the Court so far, Justice Neville has voted for defendants in civil constitutional law cases 20% of the time.

Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Sharp (no changes).

How Have Defendants Fared in Constitutional Law Cases at the Supreme Court (Part 3)?

Today, we’re continuing our series of posts on the Court’s experience since 1990 with civil constitutional law cases.

Constitutional law cases continued to drop sharply as a share of the civil docket between 2006 and 2013, as the Court decided only twenty-nine cases.  The Court decided five cases in 2006, two in 2007, eight in 2008, two in 2009, five in 2010, two in 2011, two in 2012 and three in 2013.

The Court preferred cases won at the Appellate Court by a small margin.  Of the twenty-nine cases decided, thirteen were won by the plaintiff below and sixteen by the defendants.

However, defendants were doing fairly well at the Supreme Court in cases they won below.  Between 2006 and 2013, winning defendants won eleven cases at the Supreme Court while losing only five.  Between 2013 and 2013, winning defendants won all six cases.

Winning plaintiffs, on the other hand, were having a difficult time at the Supreme Court, winning only four cases while losing nine.

Combining parts of the last two tables, we find that between 2006 and 2013, defendants won twenty civil issues involving constitutional law while losing only nine.

Between 2006 and 2013, the most common issue of civil constitutional law on the Court’s docket was questions about the authority and structure of governmental entities and public offices.  The Court decided eleven such cases.  Seven of the Court’s cases related to due process, six involved preemption and five involved procedural issues in the judiciary.

As for the Justices’ voting records, Justices Garman and Karmeier led the Court with twenty-one votes each for defendants in civil constitutional law cases.  Following them were Justices Thomas (eighteen votes), Kilbride (seventeen votes), Freeman (sixteen votes) and Burke (fifteen votes).

Justice Kilbride led the Court during these years with twelve votes each against defendants in civil constitutional law cases.  Justices Thomas and Fitzgerald were next with nine each.  Justices Freeman, Garman, Burke and Karmeier were next at eight votes apiece.

Join us back here tomorrow as we wrap up this survey of the Court’s civil constitutional law cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Roman Boed (no changes).

How Have Defendants Fared in Constitutional Law Cases at the Supreme Court Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Earlier today, we began our review of the Court’s history with civil constitutional law cases, starting with the years 1990 through 1997.  This time, we’re looking at the next eight years: 1998 to 2005.

Constitutional law cases were down during this period.  After deciding sixty-five cases between 1990 and 1997, the Court decided only forty-nine in the eight years following: thirteen in 1998, six in 1999, only one in 2000, six in 2001, four in 2002, five in 2003, and seven each in 2004 and 2005.

Defense wins from the Appellate Court were a bit more common than plaintiffs’ wins among the Court’s civil constitutional law cases.  In all, the Court decided twenty-one constitutional cases won by the plaintiff below, but twenty-five cases won by the defendant.

Defendants who won at the Appellate Court broke even at the Supreme Court, winning eleven and losing eleven (although defendants had to win six of seven cases during the years 2003-2005 in order to pull even).

Plaintiffs who won below, on the other hand, had a horrendous time from 1998 to 2005, winning only five while losing nineteen.

Given that plaintiffs’ number, it’s not surprising that defendants’ overall won-loss record, including both cases they won and lost below, was thirty wins and only sixteen losses.

During these years, the Court decided sixteen cases falling into the broad category of the powers and organization of government entities and officials.  Fourteen cases involved due process issues.  Eight involved issues relating to the judicial branch, and seven involved preemption issues.  The Court decided only two cases involving First Amendment issues.

Turning to the Justices’ voting records, Justices Freeman and McMorrow cast the most votes for defendants in constitutional law cases during this period – thirty each.  Justice Kilbride cast twenty votes, followed by Justice Fitzgerald (18 votes), Justice Thomas (17 votes) and Justices Harrison and Garman (16 votes apiece).

The most votes were cast against defendants in constitutional law cases was eighteen by Justice McMorrow.  Next was Justice Freeman at seventeen votes, Justice Harrison (thirteen votes), and eleven votes apiece by Justices Heiple, Garman and Fitzgerald.

Join us back here in a few days as we finish our tour through the Court’s civil constitutional law docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by James Jordan (no changes).

How Have Defendants Fared in Constitutional Law Cases at the Supreme Court Since 1990 (Part 1)?

Last time, we completed our review of the Court and Justices’ voting records on employment law cases.  This week, we’re taking a look at the Court’s history with civil constitutional law cases (we also track constitutional law cases on the criminal law docket, but those cases are not included in the data below).

Throughout the 1990s, constitutional law was a common subject on the Court’s civil docket.  The Court decided thirteen cases in 1990, two in 1991, eleven in 1992, three in 1993, eight in 1994, five in 1995, fourteen in 1996 and nine in 1997.

During these years, plaintiffs’ wins from the Appellate Court were a bit more common than defendants’ wins.  In all, the Court accepted thirty-four plaintiffs’ wins and twenty-seven cases won by the defendants below.

Next, we look at the Supreme Court record of the winning party below.  If, for example, the Court frequently affirms defendants’ wins and reverses plaintiffs’ wins, that could be some evidence that the Court would like to move the law in a particular area in a more conservative direction (and vice versa).  Between 1990 and 1997, defendants who won their cases at the Appellate Court won thirteen at the Supreme Court and lost fourteen.

The won-loss record for plaintiffs who won below was only slightly worse.  Between 1990 and 1997, plaintiffs who won at the Appellate Court won fifteen cases at the Supreme Court and lost nineteen.

Next, we combine parts of the data from the last two tables to arrive at an overall won-loss record for defendants in constitutional law cases.  From 1990 to 1997, defendants won thirty-two cases and lost twenty-nine.

Of course, there are many subfields within the catchall subject of constitutional law.  Where were the Court’s cases most often coming from in the 1990s?  Twenty-four cases raised issues regarding the powers and organization of government entities and public officials.  Sixteen raised due process issues.  Ten involved Illinois’ pension clause (including nine in 1992 alone).  Nine involved issues of the judicial branch.  Six raised preemption issues.  Four raised First Amendment issues, three were equal protection cases, and one involved a search and seizure issue.

During these years, Justice Miller voted for constitutional law defendants most often – thirty-six votes.  Justice Freeman was next with eighteen votes, followed by Justice Bilandic (sixteen votes), Justice McMorrow and Justice Nickels (fifteen votes each).

As for the Justices’ votes against defendants in constitutional law cases, Justice Freeman led with thirty.  Behind him were Justices Miller, Heiple and Bilandic, tied with twenty-seven each.  Justice Harrison was next with twenty-three votes.

Join us back here later today as we review the data for the years 1998 to 2005.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Rodrigo Paredes (no changes).

How Have Defendants Fared in Employment Law Cases at the Court Since 1990 (Part 3)?

Last time, we reviewed the data on the Court’s employment law cases from 2000 to 2010 and began looking at the data for the past nine years.  Today, we review the remainder of the data, as well as looking at the overall numbers.

Since employment law cases have been so rare since 2010, we combine the data for defendants who won at the Appellate Court and plaintiffs who won below.  Since 2010, defendants who won below have won once and lost twice at the Supreme Court.  Plaintiffs who had won at the Appellate Court, on the other hand, are 0-3 since 2010 at the Supreme Court.  Overall since 1990, defendants who prevailed below have eleven wins and eleven losses at the Supreme Court.  Plaintiffs who won below have ten wins and seven losses at the Supreme Court.

Combining the data below into a single graphic tracking employment law defendants’ won-loss record (regardless of who won below), we see that since 2010, defendants have won four cases and lost two.  Since 1990, employment law defendants have won eighteen and lost twenty-one at the Supreme Court.

Since 2010, the Court has decided one case relating to tort and contract liability, one discrimination case, three wage and hour/collective bargaining cases, one posing public employment issues and one “other.”  Since 1990, the Court has decided sixteen cases involving wage and hour or collective bargaining issues, eleven involving tort or contract liability, six involving discrimination, five involving public employment issues and two “other.”

Next, we review the data for how many times each year the individual Justices supported an employment law defendant’s position.  Justices Garman, Thomas, Karmeier and Burke each voted for employment law defendants four times since 2010.  The remaining Justices (aside from Justice Fitzgerald) supported defendants in three cases.

As for each Justice’s votes against employment law defendants, Justices Garman and Burke lead with five apiece and Justices Freeman, Kilbride and Theis are next, all with three.

As we noted above, since 1990, defendants in employment law cases have won eighteen and lost twenty-one – a winning percentage of 46.15%.  So which Justices have been more likely to support defendants in these cases than the Court as a whole?  We see the numbers in Table 1121.  Chief Justice Karmeier is first, having voted for the defendant to prevail in 76.92% of employment law cases.  Justice Ryan is next at 66.67, followed by Justice Garman (56.52%), Justice Thomas (55%) and Justice McMorrow (52.63%).  Justices Nickels, Fitzgerald, Rarick, Stamos and Theis have supported defendants exactly half the time.

And in Table 1122, we see the flip side – Justices who have voted for employment law defendants to prevail less often than the Court as a whole.  Justice Miller voted for defendants in 45% of his cases.  Justices Heiple and Bilandic were at 43.75%, Justice Freeman was at 41.18% and Justices Kilbride and Burke have voted for defendants 40% of the time.  Justices Moran and Ward supported defendants in 33.33% of employment law cases, and Justices Harrison and Calvo did so in 25%.  Justice Clark voted for defendants in only 11.11% of his employment law cases.  Finally, Justices Cunningham and Rathje never did during their comparatively short tenures.

Join us back here next week as we move on to a new area of law.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeffrey Zeldman (no changes).

 

How Have Defendants Fared in Employment Law Cases at the Court Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Last time, we began our review of the Court’s recent history with employment law cases, covering the years 1990 through 1999.  Today, our review continues with the years 2000 through 2009.

The Court’s employment law docket tailed off during our second ten years, from nineteen cases between 1990 and 1999 to fourteen in the period 2000-2009.  However, the Court continued to accept for review slightly more defense wins from the Appellate Court than plaintiffs’ wins – eight defense, six plaintiffs.

Defendants were less successful at defending their Appellate Court wins at the Supreme Court, however, winning only three while losing five cases.

Plaintiffs who won their cases at the Appellate Court fared only slightly better during those years, winning three and losing three at the Supreme Court.

Overall, for the years 2000 through 2009, defendants in employment cases won six cases at the Supreme Court while losing eight.

In the next table, we review the subjects covered in the employment law cases.  During these years, the Court predominantly decided cases involving wage/hour and collective bargaining issues.  The Court decided eleven such cases, five cases involving tort or contract liability, two involving discrimination issues and two involving public employment.

In Table 1113, we review the total votes for employment law defendants cast by each Justice per year.  Justice Garman most frequently supported defendants’ arguments, with nine votes, followed by Justices Thomas and Fitzgerald with seven votes apiece and Chief Justice Karmeier with six votes.

In our next Table, we review each Justice’s votes year by year against employment law defendants.  Justice Kilbride led with nine votes, followed by Justices Thomas and Fitzgerald with seven apiece and Justice Freeman with six.

Between 2010 and 2018, employment law accounted for an even smaller slice of the Court’s civil docket – only seven cases in all.  The Court decided three cases in 2011, one in 2012, two in 2013 and one in 2014.

In the past nine years, the employment law cases have been equally divided – three plaintiffs’ wins at the Appellate Court, three defendants’ wins.  (If you’re wondering where the seventh case went, the Court decided an employment law case in 2012 on a certified question from the Seventh Circuit – so no one had won the case “below.”

Join us back here next time as we finish our review of the employment law data for the years 2010 to 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Sharp (no changes).

How Has the Court Handled Employment Law Cases Since 1990 (Part 1)?

For the past several weeks, we’ve been analyzing areas of law, looking at the data regarding what kinds of cases the court takes and what the individual Justices’ voting records on the issue are.  Today, we begin a new one: employment law.

Between 1990 and 1999, the Court decided only nineteen employment law cases: four in 1990, two each in 1991 and 1992, one in 1994, three in 1996, two in 1997, four in 1998 and one in 1999.

Across the same period, the Court accepted more cases for review won by the defendant below than cases won by the plaintiff: eleven defense wins, eight plaintiffs’ wins.

Between 1990 and 1999, defendants had a reasonable degree of success defending decisions which they had won below, winning seven and losing four.

Plaintiffs also were having good success during the decade, successfully defending seven of their Court of Appeal wins while losing only one.

Although the Court has tended at times to incline towards the defense viewpoint in several of our earlier analyses, employment law was different, at least during the 1990s.  For the decade, disregarding who won below, defendants in employment law cases was eight but lost eleven.

Next we drill down a bit on what kind of employment law cases the Court was deciding.  We divide the cases into five categories: (1) tort and contract liability; (2) discrimination; (3) wage and hour cases and collective bargaining; (4) public employment; and (5) other.  During the decade, the Court decided five tort and contract liability cases, three discrimination cases, seven cases involving wage and hour claims and collective bargaining issues, three involving public employment and one case in “other.”

Across the decade, the Justices who most often supported employment law defendants’ position were Justice Miller (nine votes), Justices Heiple and Bilandic (7 each) and Justices Freeman and McMorrow (6 each).

The Justices who most frequently voted against employment law defendants during the decade were Justices Heiple and Bilandic (nine votes each), Justice Clark (8 votes), Justice Harrison (7 votes), and Justice Moran (6 votes).

We noted at the outset that employment law cases were relatively uncommon during the 1990s – but they were even more so the following decade.  Between 2000 and 2009, the Court decided only fourteen employment law cases – two in 2001, three in 2002 and 2005, one per year in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and three in 2009.

Join us back here next week as we continue our analysis of the Court’s employment law cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by NathanMac 87 (no changes).

How Have Tort Defendants Fared at the Supreme Court Since 1990 (Part 3)?

For the past two weeks, we’ve been tracing the Supreme Court’s record and the Justices’ voting patterns with respect to tort cases.  Today, we’re finishing up with a review of the years 2010 to 2018.

In Table 1091 below, we review the performance of tort defendants who prevailed at the Appellate Court.  Since 2010, such defendants have broken even with eight wins and eight losses, and that exactly mirrors their long-term record since 1990: 56 wins, 56 losses.

Plaintiffs who won at the Appellate Court have had a considerably harder time at the Supreme Court since 2010, winning only 13 while losing 32, a winning percentage of .289.  Since 1990, they’ve only done a bit better than that, winning 81 while losing 144, for a winning percentage of .360.

 

Overall, tort defendants do quite well at the Supreme Court, given the lopsided reversal rate for plaintiffs’ wins.  Since 2010, defendants in tort cases have won 40 while losing only 21 at the Supreme Court, a winning percentage of .656.  Since 1990, tort defendants have 199 wins to only 129 losses – a winning percentage of .607.

Since 2010, the areas of tort law the Court has addressed in its cases have been almost evenly distributed across the spectrum: 22 cases primarily involving tort duties, 22 cases involving liability issues, and 18 cases involving procedural issues.  Since 1990, the Court has decided 108 cases involving tort duties, 83 involving liability issues, 86 involving procedural issues, and 64 addressing various other issues.

In Table 1095, we review the individual Justices’ votes for tort defendants since 2010.  Since 2010, Chief Justice Karmeier has cast the most votes for tort defendants’ positions with 43, followed by Justices Burke and Garman (42 votes each), Justice Thomas (39) and Justice Theis (38).

Since 2010, Justice Kilbride has cast the most votes against tort defendants – 32.  Following him are Justice Freeman with 23 votes, Justice Garman (19) and Justices Thomas and Burke (18).

As we noted earlier, defendants in tort cases have an overall winning percentage before the Court since 1990 of .607.  So, next we identify the Justices who have supported defendants’ positions more than 60.71% of the time since 1990.  Justice Rathje is first at 76.47%, followed by Justice Theis (73.08%), Justice Ryan (70.59%), Chief Justice Karmeier (67.92%), Justice Thomas (66.91%), Justice Garman (66%), Justice Burke (63.95%), Justice Heiple (61.15%) and Justice Stamos (61.11%).

And finally, we have the much longer list of Justices who voted for tort defendants at a lesser rate than the full Court.  Justice Miller is the highest at 60.66% – only behind the courtwide figure by the slightest of margins.  Behind him was Justice McMorrow (60.23%), Justice Fitzgerald (57%), Justices Freeman and Ward (55.56%), Justice Bilandic (55.19%), Justice Nickels (52.63%), Justice Kilbride (48.32%), Justice Calvo (47.83%), Justice Rarick (45%), Justice Moran (43.75%), Justice Clark (37.5%), Justice Cunningham (30.56%) and Justice Harrison (27.83%).  Although Justice Neville’s rate as of the end of 2018 was technically zero, that’s based on only one case.

Join us back here next time as we turn our attention to the Court’s record with employment law cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Sharp (no changes).

 

 

How Have Tort Defendants Fared at the Supreme Court Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we began our review of the data regarding the Court’s handling of tort cases.  Today, we’re continuing that series.

In Table 1082, we divide the Court’s tort cases each year according to who won at the Appellate Court – the plaintiff or defendant?  Although review of plaintiffs’ wins dropped off in 2004 and 2005, across the entire period, the Court reviewed 53 cases won by the plaintiff below and 46 won by the defendant.  The yearly numbers seldom diverge by much; the Court reviewed twelve plaintiffs’ wins in 2002 to four defendants’ wins.  In 2005, the Court reviewed six defendants’ wins but zero plaintiffs.  In 2009, it was seven plaintiffs’ wins to one defense win.

Between 2000 and 2009, defendants who won at the Appellate Court lost nearly as many cases at the Supreme Court as they won: 19 wins, 18 losses.  As the Table shows the yearly won-loss numbers are almost always very close.

Plaintiffs who won at the Appellate Court had a much different story, however, winning 23 cases at the Supreme Court while losing 42.  In 2001, winning plaintiffs from the Appellate Court lost all four cases at the Supreme Court.  In 2004, winning plaintiffs were 2-6 at the Supreme Court.  In 2009, they were 1-6.

Next, we combine the last two measurements to derive an overall won-loss record at the Supreme Court for defendants in tort cases.  Between 2000 and 2009, tort defendants won 61 cases and lost 41.  Only in 2003 and 2007 did defendants’ performance slip under a .500 winning percentage (4-5 in 2003 and 3-4 in 2007).  The numbers were particularly lopsided in 2001, when defendants won seven of eight cases, 2004, when defendants were 9-3, and 2009, when defendants won six of eight cases.

Next, we categorize the tort cases by the principal issue involved.  For the period, the Court decided more cases addressing procedural issues than anything else: 38 in all.  The Court decided 32 cases involving questions of tort duties and 27 which involved liability cases.

Next, we review each Justice’s total votes for defendants in tort cases.  For this decade, the Justices most often supporting insurers’ positions were Justice Freeman (61 votes), Justice Garman (57), Justice Thomas (54), Justices Kilbride and Fitzgerald (45 each), and Justice McMorrow (43).

In Table 1088, we report the yearly total votes of each Justice against tort defendants.  The most frequent are Justice Kilbride (45 votes), Justice Freeman (41), Justice Garman (32) and Justice McMorrow (30).

Next, we report the yearly tort cases for our final period, 2010 to 2018.  The Court’s docket of tort cases steadily fell in recent years, as the graph shows.  The Court decided nine tort cases in 2010, twelve in 2011, ten in 2012, but then only four in 2013, five in 2014, seven in 2015, six in 2016, seven in 2017 and two in 2018.

Although the tort docket has been falling, the cases the Court has agreed to review have overwhelmingly been plaintiffs’ wins from the Appellate Court: 48 plaintiffs’ wins, 14 defendants’ wins.  Only in 2010 and 2016 did defendants’ wins narrowly predominate.  Meanwhile, between 2011 and 2015, the Court decided thirty-four cases won by plaintiffs at the Appellate Court to only four cases won by defendants.  After the one-year flip in 2016, the trend reasserted itself – for 2017-2018, the Court decided 8 plaintiffs’ wins below to only 1 case won by defendants.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we conclude our series on the Court’s tort law history, including a comparison of the Justices’ individual voting record to the courtwide results data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Richie Diesterheft (no changes).

How Have Tort Defendants Fared at the Court Since 1990?

Last week, we kicked off our new series of posts taking a deep dive on various key areas of the law, asking several important questions about the kinds of cases the Court takes, who wins them the most often, and the Justices’ voting records.  This week, we’re looking at the Court’s record with tort law.

First, we review the number of tort cases the Court decided, year by year, for the years 1990 to 1999.  The Court decided twenty tort cases in 1990, sixteen in 1991, twenty-eight in 1992, twelve in 1993, fifteen in 1994, twenty-one in 1995, fifteen in 1996, seventeen in 1997 and 1998 and thirteen in 1999.

Next, we review the data for which side won the Court’s cases at the Appellate Court – were the cases coming to the Court as plaintiffs’ wins or defendants’ wins?  For the years 1990 to 1999, the Court’s tort cases were overwhelmingly plaintiffs’ wins – 115 plaintiffs’ wins and only 59 defendants’ wins.  For example, in 1991, plaintiffs’ wins below outnumbered defendants’ wins 12-4.  The following year, plaintiffs’ wins outnumbered defendants’ wins 19-9.  In 1996, the Court decided 12 plaintiffs’ wins and 3 defendants’ wins.  In 1998, the Court decided thirteen plaintiffs’ wins and four defendants’ wins.  In 1999, the split was ten plaintiffs’ wins to three defendants’ wins.

Next, we review how often defendants who won at the Appellate Court won at the Supreme Court.  Between 1990 and 1999, defendants’ won-loss record in such cases was slightly below .500 – 29 wins, 30 losses.

But plaintiffs found it much harder during the 1990s to defend their wins, going 45-70 in cases before the Supreme Court in cases they had won below.  1995 and 1996 were particularly rough years, as plaintiffs fresh off Appellate Court wins went 4-23 at the Supreme Court.

In the next table, we combine the data to derive defendants’ total wins in tort cases for the decade – in other words, defense wins from the Appellate Court successfully defended plus plaintiffs’ wins from the Appellate Court overturned at the Supreme Court.  Defendants hovered around .500 for the first half of the nineties, going 40-42 between 1990 and 1994.  But things turned around from 1995 to 1999, as winning defendants went 58-25 at the Supreme Court, for an overall won-lost record of 98-67.

Next, we look at the primary issues involved in the Court’s tort cases, dividing the issues into duty, liability, procedural and “other.”  During the nineties, the Court spread its tort work around the docket fairly well, deciding 54 tort cases primarily about duty issues and 56 in our “other” category.  There were 34 cases presenting liability issues and 30 involving procedural questions.

In the next table, we show for each Justice the number of votes he or she cast for defendants in tort cases.  For the decade, the Justices most often supporting defendants in tort cases were Justice Miller (102 votes), Justice Heiple (88), and Justices Freeman and Bilandic (79 votes and 78 votes, respectively).

And below, we report the total votes each Justice cast for tort plaintiffs during the nineties.  Leaders in this group were Justice Freeman (76 votes), Justice Miller (70 votes), Justice Bilandic (66 votes), Justice Harrison (60 votes) and Justice Heiple (59 votes).

Finally, we look at the Court’s total number of tort cases for the years 2000 through 2009.  As Table 1081 shows, the Court’s tort docket was somewhat down during these years.  Where the total cases weren’t in double digits any year of the nineties, they were every other year throughout this second period.  The Court decided ten tort cases in 2000, nine in 2001, seventeen in 2002, nine in 2003, thirteen in 2004, six in 2005, twelve in 2006, seven in 2007, fourteen in 2008 and eight in 2009.

Join us back here tomorrow as we take another step in our analysis of the Court’s handling of torts.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ron Frazier (no changes).

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