Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Criminal Cases, 1990-1995

Today, we start the second part of our ongoing analysis of agreement rates among the Justices since 1990 – the criminal docket.  We proceed just as we did with the civil docket, tracking agreement rates in non-unanimous cases.  “Disagreement” is defined as two Justices not voting exactly the same way with respect to the judgment – in other words, if one Justice votes to affirm and another to affirm in part and reverse in part, that’s a disagreement.  On the other hand, when the second Justice votes to affirm but files a special concurrence saying that he or she disagrees with some or all of the majority’s rationale, that’s still agreement with respect to the result.  Finally, because the Court had significant turnover in its members during the 1990s, we expect the numbers to be a bit more volatile during that period than the Court’s most recent years.  We begin with the years 1990 to 1995.

Justice Calvo had an agreement rate of 100% with Justice Bilandic, and 81.82% with Justice Ward.  Justice Clark’s agreement rates show his philosophy closest to Justice Freeman (71.88%), Justice Bilandic (70.37%), Justice Calvo (68.42%), Justice Cunningham (68.18%) and Justice Moran (65.91%).  His agreement rate with Justice Ward was 50%.  His agreement rate with Justices Stamos and Ryan was identical – 41.67%).  His agreement rate with Justice Heiple was 29.63%, and with Justice Miller, it was even lower: 18.18%.  Justices Cunningham and Bilandic had an agreement rate of 81.82%, and Justices Bilandic and Freeman were at 63.33%.

Justices Freeman and Calvo had an agreement rate of 87.5%.  His rate was in the seventies with two Justices – Nickels (79.03%) and Moran (78.13%).  His agreement rate with Justice Cunningham was 68.18%, and with Justice Harrison, it was 67.21%.  Justices Freeman and Heiple had an agreement rate of 48.89%.  That number was comparatively low compared to Justice Heiple’s agreement rates with other colleagues: Justice Nickels, 61.29%; Justice Moran, 59.26%; Justice Cunningham, 57.14%; and Justice Calvo, 50%.  His agreement rate with Justice Harrison was 36.07%.  Justice Harrison’s agreement rate with Justice Bilandic was nearly identical – 41.27%.  Justice McMorrow had an agreement rate with Justice Freeman of 67.74%, and with Justice Bilandic of 62.9%.

Justice McMorrow had an agreement rate with Justice Nickels of 85.25%.  Her rate with Justice Harrison was 61.67%, with Justice Miller, 54.84%, and with Justice Heiple, 48.39%.  Justice Miller had two agreement rates for this period in the sixties, with Justices Nickels and Heiple (67.74% and 65.56%, respectively).  His agreement rate was in the fifties with six different Justices – Bilandic, 56.67%; Freeman, 55.79%; Cunningham, 54.55%; Moran, 52.27%; Ryan and Stamos (both 50%).  His agreement rate with Justice Calvo was 42.11% and with Justice Harrison, 39.34%.

Justice Moran’s agreement rate with Justice Cunningham was 95.45%, and with Justice Ward, 91.67%.  His agreement rate with Justice Calvo was 84.21%, and with Justice Bilandic, 81.82%.  Justice Nickels had an agreement rate with Justice Harrison of 66.67%.  His agreement rate with Justice Bilandic during these years was 59.68%.  Justice Ryan had an agreement rate of 75% with Justice Ward and 72.73% with Justice Calvo.  Justice Ryan’s agreement rate with Justice Moran was 66.67%.  Justice Stamos had an agreement rate of 91.67% with Justice Ward, a rate of 83.33% with both Justices Moran and Ryan, and of 72.73% with Justice Calvo.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we address two more periods in the criminal docket – 1996-2001 and 2002-2007.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Eric Fredericks (no changes).

Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Civil Cases, 2014-2018

For the past two weeks, we’ve been reviewing the Justices’ agreement rates in divided civil cases across the period 1990 to 2018, working six years at a time.  Today, we’ve reached our fifth and last post on the civil docket, reviewing the years 2014 to 2018.  As we did last time, to facilitate comparisons for a single Justice and his or her colleagues, we group the results Justice by Justice.

Justice Burke’s highest agreement rate was with Justice Neville.  Justices Burke and Neville agreed in all five divided civil cases last year after Justice Neville joined the Court.  Justices Burke and Freeman had an agreement rate of 79.31%.  Justices Burke and Theis had an agreement rate of 73.53%.  Justice Burke’s agreement rate was in the sixties for three of her four remaining colleagues (Justice Karmeier – 67.65%, Justice Thomas – 65.63%, and Justice Garman – 64.71%.

Justice Garman’s highest agreement rates in divided civil cases were with Justice Thomas (84.38%), Justice Neville (80%) and Justice Karmeier (79.41%).  Her agreement rate with three Justices was in the sixties – Justice Freeman (68.97%) and Justices Burke and Theis (both 64.71%).  She agreed with Justice Kilbride in only 47.06% of divided civil cases.

Justice Freeman’s closest two matches in terms of agreement rate were Justices Burke (79.31%) and Theis (75%).  Justices Freeman and Garman agreed in 68.97% of divided civil cases.  Justices Freeman and Thomas agreed in 59.38%, and Justices Freeman and Kilbride had an agreement rate of 52.94%.  Justice Freeman and Chief Justice Karmeier agreed in 44.12% of divided civil cases.

As we noted above, Justice Neville participated in five divided civil decisions in 2018.  He agreed with Justice Burke in all five, with Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Garman, Thomas and Theis in four of five, and with Justice Kilbride in two of five.

Justice Kilbride’s agreement rate was over 50% only with Justice Freeman – 52.94%.  His rate with Justices Garman and Theis was 47.06%.  Justices Kilbride and Thomas had an agreement rate of 40.63%, and his rate with Justice Neville, as mentioned above, was 40%.  Justice Kilbride’s lowest agreement rate was with Chief Justice Karmeier – 32.35%.

Justice Thomas agreed with his two Republican colleagues in a large majority of divided civil cases – Chief Justice Karmeier, 87.5%, and Justice Garman, 84.38%.  Justices Thomas and Theis agreed 68.75% of the time.  Justices Thomas and Burke had an agreement rate of 65.63%.  Justices Thomas and Freeman agreed 59.38% of the time.  Justices Thomas and Kilbride agreed in only 40.63% of divided civil cases.

With the exception of Justice Neville’s five cases in 2018, the Chief Justice’s highest agreement rates were with his Republican colleagues, Justices Thomas (87.5%) and Garman (79.41%).  Chief Justice Karmeier and Justice Burke had an agreement rate of 67.65%.  He agreed with Justice Theis in 58.82% of divided civil cases, and with Justice Freeman in 44.12%.  Chief Justice Karmeier agreed with Justice Kilbride only 32.35% of the time.

Justice Theis’ highest agreement rates among the Justices who served the entire six years were with Justice Freeman (75%) and Justice Burke (73.53%).  Justices Theis and Thomas agreed in 68.75% of cases, and Justices Theis and Garman had an agreement rate of 64.71%.  Justice Theis’ agreement rate with Chief Justice Karmeier was 58.82%.  Her agreement rate with Justice Kilbride was 47.06%.

Join us back here tomorrow as we begin our review of the Court’s criminal docket voting with the years 1990 through 1995.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Lisa Andres (no changes).

Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Civil Cases, 2008-2013

Yesterday, we reviewed the Justices’ agreement rates in civil cases for the years 2002 through 2007.  Today, we’re looking at the agreement rates for the next six years – 2008 through 2013, with one change.  Since we’re now getting into a period where nearly all the current members of the Court had begun their tenures, rather than presenting data several combinations at a time, we reorganize the data to compare a single Justice’s agreement rates with each other sitting Justice.  Of course, this creates a bit of repetition in the tables – to make comparisons easy, each pairing is repeated on both Justice’s charts.  In other words, the rate for “Burke-Karmeier” below is reported again on Justice Karmeier’s table as “Karmeier-Burke.”

We begin with Justice Burke.  Justice Burke’s closest match in civil cases during these years was Justice Freeman – the two Justices voted together in 84.85% of divided civil cases.  Next were Justice Theis at 67.5%, Justice Fitzgerald at 64%, Justice Garman at 62.12% and Justice Thomas at 60.66%.  Justices Burke and Karmeier agreed in 58.21% of divided civil cases.  Justices Burke and Kilbride agreed in only 36.36% of such cases.

The 84.85% agreement rates between Justices Freeman and Burke was Justice Freeman’s closest match also.  Justices Theis (67.5%), Fitzgerald (61.54%) and Thomas (59.02%) were next.  Justices Freeman and Garman agreed in 58.21% of divided civil cases, and Justices Freeman and Karmeier agreed 52.94% of the time.   Justice Freeman’s agreement rate with Justice Kilbride was the same as Justice Burke’s – 36.36%.

Justice Garman’s closest match during these years was Justice Thomas – the two agreed in 87.1% of divided civil cases.  Justices Karmeier (78.79%) and Theis (77.5%) were close behind.  Justices Garman and Burke agreed in 62.12% of cases, and Justices Garman and Fitzgerald agreed in 61.54%.  Justices Garman and Freeman agreed in 58.21% of civil cases, and Justice Garman agreed with Justice Kilbride 42.42% of the time.

Justice Kilbride’s closest match on the Court was Justice Fitzgerald, at 65.38%.  Justice Kilbride voted with Justice Theis in 52.5% of cases, and with Justice Thomas in 50%.  Justice Kilbride and Justice Garman’s agreement rate was 42.42%, and his agreement rate with Justice Karmeier was 40.3%.  His lowest agreement rates during these years were with Justices Freeman and Burke – both 36.36%.

Justice Karmeier’s highest agreement rates were, not surprisingly, with the other Republican Justices – Justice Thomas at 80.65% and Justice Garman at 78.79%.  Justices Karmeier and Theis agreed in 70% of divided civil cases.  Justices Karmeier and Fitzgerald agreed 62.96% of the time.  Justice Karmeier agreed with Justices Burke and Freeman 58.21% and 52.94% of the time, respectively.  Justice Karmeier’s lowest agreement rate was with Justice Kilbride – 40.3%.

Justice Thomas’ closest matches were Justice Garman at 87.1% and Justice Karmeier at 80.65%.  Justices Thomas and Fitzgerald had an agreement rate of 78.26%, and Justices Thomas and Theis were at 72.97%.  Justices Thomas and Burke agreed in 60.66% of divided civil cases.  His lowest agreement rates were with Justice Freeman (59.02%) and Kilbride (50%).

During these years, Justice Theis’ highest agreement rate was with Justice Garman (77.5%), followed by Justice Thomas (72.97%) and Justice Karmeier (70%).  Justice Theis’ agreement rate with Justices Burke and Freeman was identical at 67.5%.  Her lowest agreement rate was with Justice Kilbride at 52.5%.

Join us back here next week as we take the Court’s civil agreement rates up to the present day, and begin our trip through the data for divided criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bert Kaufmann (no changes).

Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Civil Cases, 2002-2007

Last week, we began our review, six years at a time, of the Justices’ agreement rates in civil cases.  First, we addressed the years 1990 through 1995, and then, we looked at the years 1996 through 2001.  Today, we’re turning our attention to the civil agreement rates for the years 2002 to 2007.

During these years, Justices Burke and Fitzgerald had relatively high agreement rates with several Justices.  Justices Burke and Freeman agreed 88.89% of the time.  Justice Burke agreed with both Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Kilbride 77.78% of the time.  Justice Fitzgerald voted with Justice Garman in 75% of divided cases and with Justice Freeman in 70.51%.  Justices Burke and Thomas agreed in 62.5% of cases, and Justices Freeman and Thomas voted together in 62.67%.  Justices Freeman and Karmeier agreed in 58.62% of divided civil cases.  Justice Freeman voted with Justice Rarick in 56% of cases and with Justice Kilbride in 53.85%.  Justices Burke and Karmeier voted together only 33.33% of the time, and Justices Freeman and Harrison were at 35.71%.  Finally, Justices Burke and Garman had an agreement rate of 28.57%.

Among our second group of combinations, Justices Kilbride and Harrison had the highest agreement rate – 84.62%.  Three sets of Justices were in the seventies: Justice Garman with Justices Karmeier (73.08%) and Thomas (79.17%), and Justices Karmeier and Fitzgerald (72.41%).  Justices Kilbride and Rarick had an agreement rate of exactly 60%.  Four combinations were in the fifties – Justices Garman and Freeman (55.26%), and Justice Kilbride with three Justices: Fitzgerald (58.44%), Karmeier (55.17%) and Thomas (50%).  Two combinations were in the forties – Justices Garman and Kilbride, and Justices Harrison and Fitzgerald (46.15%).  Justices Garman and Harrison were at 35.71%, and Justices Garman and Rarick agreed in only one-quarter of divided civil cases.

Our final group of combinations for the most part ran a bit lower than recent trends.  Two combinations, Justices McMorrow and Freeman (83.33%) and Justices Thomas and Fitzgerald (86.49%) were in the eighties.  Justices Thomas and Karmeier had an agreement rate of 76%.  Justices McMorrow and Fitzgerald (64.62%), Justices McMorrow and Karmeier (66.67%) and Justices Rarick and Fitzgerald (64%) were next.  Justices McMorrow and Garman were at 58.33%, and Justices McMorrow and Thomas agreed 59.38% of the time.  Four combinations of Justices had agreement rates in the forties – Justices McMorrow and Kilbride (41.54%), Justices McMorrow and Rarick (44%), Justices Thomas and Harrison (42.86%) and Justices Thomas and Rarick (44%).  Justices McMorrow and Harrison agreed in only 38.46% of divided civil cases.

Join us back here tomorrow as we address the years 2008 to 2013.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Michael Mooney (no changes).

Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Civil Cases, 1996-2001

Last time, we reviewed the Justices’ agreement rates – how often each possible combination of Justices, two at a time, voted together – in civil cases between 1990 and 1995.  In this post, we’re looking at the same number for the years 1996 to 2001.

In Table 1007, we report the data for our first group of combinations.  Justice McMorrow’s agreement rate during these years wasn’t especially high with any other Justice.  She agreed at least seventy percent of the time with four of her colleagues – Justices Freeman (77.14%), Bilandic (75.41%), Rathje (73.53%) and Miller (71.09%).  Only one combination was in the sixties – Justices McMorrow and Nickels, at 65.56%.  Six different combinations were in the fifties and forties – Justices Heiple (56%), Harrison (40.88%), Garman (45.45%), Kilbride (53.85%), Thomas (41.67%) and Fitzgerald (53.85%).  Justices Miller and Freeman had an agreement rate of 71.09%.

Although the bulk of our next group of combinations is around the same level as the previous chart, Justice Miller had a 100% agreement rate between 1996 and 2001 with two other Justices – Thomas and Fitzgerald.  His agreement rate with Justice Rathje was 82.35%; his rate with Justice Kilbride was 75%.  Six different combinations on this chart were in the sixties – Justices Miller and Heiple (66.94%), Justices Miller and Nickels (66.29%), Justices Miller and Bilandic (69.42%), Justices Freeman and Nickels (63.33%), Justices Freeman and Rathje (67.65%), and Justices Freeman and Kilbride (61.54%).  One combination each was in the fifties (Justices Freeman and Heiple – 58.4%), in the forties (Justices Freeman and Harrison – 45.26%), and in the thirties (Justices Miller and Harrison – 36%).

Justices Garman and Thomas had an agreement rate of 100% for these years.  Two combinations were in the seventies – Justices Freeman and Bilandic (73.77%) and Justices Heiple and Nickels (71.59%).  Three more were in the sixties – Justices Freeman and Fitzgerald (61.54%), Justices Rathje and Bilandic (62.5%), and Justices Heiple and Rathje (67.65%).  Three were in the fifties – Justices Freeman and Thomas (50%), Justices Heiple and Bilandic (58.33%) and Justices Garman and Freeman (54.55%).  Three combinations had agreement rates in the forties – Justices Harrison and Bilandic (46.67%), Justices Heiple and Harrison (45.08%) and Justices Garman and Kilbride (45.45%).  One combination, Justices Rathje and Harrison had an agreement rate of 30.3%.

Finally, Justice Fitzgerald had agreement rates in the seventies with Justices Garman (72.73%) and Thomas (75%).  Justices Nickels and Bilandic were similar – 70.11%.  Justice Kilbride had agreement rates in the sixties with Justices Harrison (61.54%) and Fitzgerald (69.23%).  Justice Harrison was in the sixities with Justices Nickels (62.5%) and Fitzgerald (61.54%).  The agreement rate for Justices Harrison and Bilandic was 50%, and the rate between Justices Harrison and Garman was only slightly lower at 45.45%.  Justice Thomas’ agreement rates were identical for Justices Kilbride and Harrison at 41.67%.

Join us back here next week as we review the civil case data for the years 2002-2007 and 2008-2013.

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

Reviewing the Justices’ Agreement Rates in Civil Cases, 1990-1995

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how often each member of the Court since 1990 voted with the majority in divided decisions on both the civil and criminal side, looking both for how closely aligned each Justice was with the majority of the Court, and perhaps a rough indicator of each Justice’s influence among his or her colleagues.  This time, we begin working on a slightly different voting indicator – how often did each Justice agree with each of his or her individual colleagues on the Court?  Today, we’ll begin a three-week trip through the Court’s recent history on the civil side, then we’ll look at the criminal side.

But first, a few ground rules.  In order to smooth out what are really random variations from year to year, we’ll group the twenty-nine-year period by looking at six years at a time – thus better seeing real relationships and trends.  Second, just as with the last series of posts, “agreement” means complete agreement – a Justice who votes to affirm and another who votes to affirm in part and reverse in part are not counted as agreeing in this data.  Third, because the Court’s unanimity rate is typically so high, we’re addressing non-unanimous decisions only (otherwise, most of these combinations would be clustered relatively high on the bar charts).  Fourth, in the data below, we address every possible combination of Justices who voted in even a single case during these years, taking fifteen combinations at a time.

We report our first set of combinations in Table 1003 below.  Justices McMorrow and Miller had the highest agreement rate during these years – 90.48% of non-unanimous civil decisions.  Five combinations were over eighty percent – Justices Clark and Calvo, 89.47%, Justices Clark and Cunningham, 87.18%, Justices Clark and Bilandic, 75.71% and Justices Clark and Freeman, 85.37%.  Three more combinations of Justices were in the seventy percent range – Justices Clark and Moran, 75.86%, Justices Clark and Ward, 75%, and Justices Nickels and McMorrow, 73.77%.  Among the lowest agreement rates in this first grouping were three combinations in the fifty percent rage – Justices Clark and Miller, 54.24%, Justices McMorrow and Heiple, 50.79%, and Justices Clark and Stamos, 50%.  Justices McMorrow and Harrison agreed in only 40.68% of divided civil cases during these years.  Finally, Justice Clark’s agreement rates were in the thirties with two of his colleagues – Justice Ryan (37.5%) and Justice Heiple (33.33%).

In Table 1004, we report the data for the next fifteen combinations of Justices.  The data for these Justices varies significantly less than the first group, mostly because almost no one in this group reached as high a number as the first: in our first group, five combinations of Justices had agreement rates over 80%, while here, only one – Justices Freeman and Calvo, four agrees in four cases, did.  Five combinations had agreement rates in the seventies – Justices Miller and Stamos (73.33%), Justices Miller and Ryan (75%), Justices Miller and Moran (77.97%), Justices Miller and Cunningham (71.79%) and Justices Freeman and Cunningham (78.38%).  Another five combinations were in the sixties – Justices McMorrow and Bilandic (61.29%), Justices Miller and Freeman (65.09%), Justices Miller and Heiple (63.89%), Justices Miller and Nickels (62.12%) and Justices Miller and Bilandic (61.54%).  Meanwhile, one combination had an agreement rate in the forties – Justices Miller and Harrison (46.77%), and one was in the thirties – Justices Miller and Calvo (35%).

The spread among the next fifteen combinations of Justices was similar.  Only one combination had an agreement rate of 80% – Justices Stamos and Moran.  Three more were in the seventies – Justices Freeman and Moran (75.61%), Justices Freeman and Nickels (71.21%) and Justices Heiple and Nickels (70.15%).  Two combinations of Justices were in the forties – Justices Heiple and Cunningham (46.15%) and Heiple and Harrison (49.21%).  Justices Ryan and Moran had an agreement rate of 31.25%.

In Table 1006, we report the remaining agreement rates for the period of 1990 to 1995.  Justice Calvo’s agreement rate with Justices Bilandic and Cunningham was 100%.  The agreement rate between Justices Moran and Cunningham was 94.87%.  Four combinations – Justices Moran and Bilandic (72.73%), Justices Moran and Ward (75%), Justices Calvo and Ward (75%) and Justices Cunningham and Bilandic (70.97%), had agreement rates in the seventies.  At the bottom of this set was Justices Ryan and Calvo, whose agreement rate was 31.25%.

Join us back here next time as we explore the data for the years 1996 through 2001.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gabe Popa (no changes).

Who Has Been the Bellwether Vote in Divided Criminal Cases (2004-2018)?

Last time, we began our review of the data on the criminal docket regarding how often each of the Justices voted with the majority in divided criminal cases between 1990 and 2003.  Today, we’re reviewing the years 2004 through 2018.

In Table 1001, we review the most recent data for Justices Burke, Fitzgerald, Freeman, Garman, Karmeier and Kilbride.  Justice Burke was between fifty percent and the seventies in eight of thirteen years.  Justice Burke was in the seventies once (in 2013), in the sixties three times (2007, 2012 and 2017), in the fifties four times (2008-2009, 2015 and 2018), in the forties once (2014), in the thirties once (2011), in the twenties once (2010) and between zero and twenty percent twice (2006 and 2016).  Justice Fitzgerald’s in-the-majority rate was sky-high nearly every year: 91.67% in 2004, 90.91% in 2005, 92.31% in 2006, 95.31% in 2007, 75% in 2008, 100% in 2009 and 91.67% in 2010.

Justice Freeman’s divided majority rate varied during these years but was typically between the sixties and eighties.  He was in the sixties four times (2005-2007 and 2012), in the seventies twice (2014 and 2016), and in the eighties three times (2004, 2013 and 2017).  Justice Freeman was also in the thirties twice (2010-2011), in the forties once (2009) and in the fifties twice (2008, 2015).  Justice Garman has been in the seventies three times (2014, 2017 and 2018), in the eighties six times (2004-2005, 2009, 2013 and 2015-2016), and in the nineties three times (2007, 2010 and 2012).  Justice Karmeier’s divided majority rate was 100% twice (2005 and 2012), in the nineties three times (2006, 2010 and 2013), and in the eighties four times (2009 and 2014-2016).  Justice Kilbride’s divided majority rate was all over the map: at 100% three times (2010, 2013 and 2018), in the nineties once (2011), in the eighties twice (2014 and 2015), in the seventies once (2004), in the sixties twice (2006 and 2009), in the fifties three times (2012 and 2016-2017), in the thirties once (2007) and in the twenties twice (2005 and 2008).

In Table 1002, we report the data for Justices McMorrow, Neville, Rarick, Theis and Thomas.  Justice McMorrow voted with divided majorities in 92.86% of criminal cases in 2004, 72.73% in 2005 and 45.46% during her final year of 2006.  Justice Neville voted with divided majorities in two-thirds of criminal cases last year.  Justice Rarick’s rate was 92.31% in 2004.  Justice Theis has been in the eighties four times in nine years – 2012, 2015 and 2017-2018 – and at 100% in 2010 and 2016.  Justice Thomas’ voting with divided majorities rate has generally been quite high – in the seventies twice (2008 and 2013), in the eighties three times (2012, 2015 and 2017-2018), in the nineties five times (2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012-2013 and at 100% in 2006.

Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new issue.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jack Wickes (no changes).

 

Who Has Been the Bellwether Vote in Divided Criminal Cases (1990-2003)?

Last week, we reviewed the data showing how often each Justice voted with the majority in a divided civil case.  This week, we’re looking at the criminal docket.

In Table 997, we review the numbers for five Justices – Bilandic, Calvo, Clark, Cunningham and Fitzgerald.  Justice Bilandic was, for the most part, between sixty and eighty percent.  His rate was 66.67% in 1991 and 62.5% in 1996; 79.17% in 1994, 75% in 1997 and 77.27% in 1998; and 81.25% in 1992 and 82.14% in 1999.  Bilandic was in the nineties once (2000); in the fifties twice (1993 and 1995); and at 100% in 1990.  Justice Calvo was in the majority in 84.62% of criminal cases in 1990 and 100% in 1991.  Justice Clark voted with the majority in 57.14% of cases in 1990 and 1991 and three-quarters in 1992.  Justice Cunningham voted with the majority in 83.33% in 1991 and 100% in 1992.  Justice Fitzgerald was closely in sync with the Court’s majority during these years – 95.65% in 2001, 86.67% in 2002 and 92.59% in 2003.

We review Justices Freeman, Garman, Harrison, Heiple and Kilbride in the next table.  Justice Freeman was in the seventies (1994, 1997, 1999-2000), eighties (1991, 1993, 1995, 2002-2003) and nineties (1998, 2001) for most of the period.  Justice Garman voted with the majority in 87.5% of divided criminal cases in 2001, 79.31% in 2002 and 85.19% in 2003.  Justice Harrison’s rate was relatively low throughout the period, with outliers only in 1996 and 1997.  He was in the fifties in 1993-1994 and 1998, in the forties from 1999 to 2001, and at 26.32% in his final year of 2002.  These years were spread evenly across a wide band for Justice Heiple.  His rate was in the fifties three times (1992, 1994 and 1999), in the sixties twice (1991 and 1995); in the seventies four times (1993, 1997-1998 and 2000) and in the eighties once (1996).  Justice Kilbride was less often in the majority than other Justices during his first three years – 60.87% in 2001, 33.33% in 2002 and 62.96% in 2003.

Between 1993 and 2003, Justice McMorrow’s rate of voting with the majority in divided criminal cases was nearly always in the 80-90% range – 1993, 1995-1996, 1999 and 2002-2003.  Her rate was in the seventies in 1998 and 2000 and in the sixties in 1994 and 1997.  Justice Miller’s majority rate was fairly low from 1990 to 1997 – in the fifties in 1990, 1992 and 1993, in the sixties in 1991, 1994 and 1997, and in the thirties in 1996.  His rate was substantially higher in his final four years however – 86.36% in 1998, 92.86% in 1999, 85.25% in 2000 and 100% in 2001.  Justice Moran was in the majority in 92.86% of divided criminal cases in 1990 and 100% in 1991 and 1992.  Justice Nickels was in the majority in 79.17% in 1994, 93.75% in 1995, 68.75% in 1996, 75% in 1997 and 77.27% in 1998.  Justice Rarick voted with the majority in 100% of divided cases in 2002 and 91.3% in 2003.

 

Finally, we review the data for Justices Rathje, Ryan, Stamos, Thomas and Ward.  Justice Rathje voted with the majority in divided criminal cases 63.16% of the time in 1999 and 90% of the time in 2000.  Justices Ryan, Stamos and Ward, who all retired from the Court in 1990, voted with the majority that year in 75%, 91.67% and 100% of divided criminal cases, respectively.  Justice Thomas joined the majority in 73.91% of divided cases in 2001, 76.67% in 2002 and only 37.04% in 2003.

 

Join us here tomorrow as we consider the years 2004 through 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Adam Jones (no changes).

Who Has Been the Bellwether Vote in Divided Civil Cases (2004-2018)?

Last time, we began our examination of a new question: who has most often been a bellwether vote – a Justice who is nearly always in the majority in a divided decision – in civil cases?  Then, we reviewed the years 1990-2003.  Now, we’re taking a look at the years 2004-2018.

In Table 995, we review the first six of the eleven Justices who have participated in at least one civil case since 2004: Justices Burke, Fitzgerald, Freeman, Garman, Karmeier and Kilbride.  Justice Burke shows more variation in her numbers than most of the Justices we reviewed last time – she’s been in the fifties twice (2010, 2017), in the sixties three times (2013-2015), in the seventies twice (2007-2008), in the eighties three times (2009, 2011, 2018), and between ninety and one hundred percent – disregarding her first-year civil opinions – twice (2012, 2016).  Justice Fitzgerald was, for the most part, squarely in tune with the Court during the final years of his tenure – he voted with the majority in every divided case in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010, and did so ninety percent of the time in 2006.  Justice Freeman voted with the majority between seventy and ninety percent of the time for the most part, with a few dips under that trend (55.56% in 2010, 2011 and 2015, and fifty percent in 2017).  Justice Garman’s numbers were similar from 2004 to 2012, but there is some evidence her rate may be edging up in recent years: 92.86% in 2013, 100% in 2015 and 2017, 87.5% in 2018.  Although current Chief Justice Karmeier’s rate was comparatively low in three of his first four full years – 42.86% in 2007, 66.67% in 2008 and 42.86% in 2009, since that time he too has generally been between seventy and ninety percent.  For the most part, Justice Kilbride was less likely to be in the majority of a divided decision than the other Justices in this table.  He voted with the majority in only a third of divided civil decisions in 2015, was in the forties five times (2004, 2008, 2011-2013) and in the fifties three times (2005, 2014, 2017).  Justice Kilbride joined the majority 62.5% of the time in 2007 and 2018, and 66.67% in 2010.  He voted with the majority 71.43% of the time in 2009 and 2016 and reached a high of 80% in 2006.

In Table 996, we review the data for the final five Justices who served during these years: McMorrow, Neville, Rarick, Theis and Thomas.  Justice McMorrow’s majority rate was 71.43% in 2004, 88.89% in 2005 and 69.23% in 2006.  The Court’s newest member Justice Neville voted with the majority in all of the divided civil cases he participated in last year.  In 2004, Justice Rarick (in his final year on the Court) voted with the majority in fifty percent of the divided civil cases.  Justice Theis has been in line with the majority for most of her years on the Court: in the eighties four times (2011-2012, 2016 and 2018), in the seventies twice (2015 and 2017) and in the nineties and sixties once each (2013 and 2014, respectively).  Although it has dipped slightly in the past few years, Justice Thomas’ majority rate was between eighty and one hundred percent each year between 2004 and 2011, 2013-2015 and 2018.  His lowest majority rates were 75% in 2012, 71.43% in 2016 and 75% in 2017.

Join us next Tuesday as we turn our attention to the same metric for the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by AuntJoJo (no changes).

 

 

 

Who Has Been the Bellwether Vote in Divided Civil Cases (1990-2003)?

On the vast majority of appellate courts, there are one or two Justices of whom appellate specialists say “they’re the votes you’ve got to have” – or alternatively, “lose those votes and you’re hurting.”  No matter the case, those Justices nearly always seem to be in the majority.  There can be at least a couple of reasons for this, of course: either the Justice is well aligned with the majority philosophy on the Court, or a Justice is so persuasive among his or her other Justices that she or he can usually assemble a majority for the Justice’s preferred outcome during the Court’s deliberations.

So who have been the bellwether votes on the Illinois Supreme Court since 1990?  This week, we’ll review the civil cases.  A few ground rules: in order to keep the math relatively simple, a Justice is defined as being in the majority if he or she agrees with the judgment – even if the Justice files a concurrence saying “I agree with the result, but not with any of the majority’s reasoning.”  Second, in order to avoid making these numbers artificially high (since the Court is typically unanimous in anywhere from 55 to 75% of its cases), we limit the data to non-unanimous decisions.  Third, “civil” cases are defined (as usual with our data) to exclude quasi-criminal matters which are technically civil proceedings, such as habeas corpus and juvenile justice.  And a reminder – a Justice’s first or last year on the Court is not necessarily indicative of anything, since that number is typically based on a relatively few number of cases that Justice participated in.  Because we’re trying to answer a question about the individual Justices as opposed to the evolution of the Court, contrary to our usual practice, we arrange the tables by Justice to make it easier to see trends.

In Table 991, we review the data for the first five of the twenty Justices who served between 1990 and 2003: Bilandic, Calvo, Clark, Cunningham and Fitzgerald.  Justice Bilandic typically voted with the majority in between sixty-five and eighty percent of divided civil cases during these years.  His high came in 1991 – ninety percent – and his low was only two years later, 66.67%.  Justice Calvo voted with the majority in 63.16% of divided civil cases in 1990.  Justice Clark was typically in the majority in divided civil cases between seventy and eighty percent of the time.  In his two years on the Court, Justice Cunningham voted with the majority ninety percent or more of the time.  Joining the Court towards the end of this period, Justice Fitzgerald was in the majority in divided civil cases over ninety percent of the time two of three years.

In our next table, we review the numbers for Justices Freeman, Garman, Harrison, Heiple and Kilbride.  Aside from a one-year dip in 2001, Justice Freeman’s rate was consistent across the board, ranging from three-quarters to just short of 90%.  In her first three years, Justice Garman was in the majority of divided civil cases in 81.82%, 68.75% and fifty percent of cases.  Justice Harrison, on the other hand, was typically in the majority of such cases less often – between fifty and sixty percent for the most part (with a low of 28.57% in 1999).   After some variation in the years 1990 to 1992, Justice Heiple was generally in the majority between seventy and eighty percent of the time in divided civil cases.  Justice Kilbride voted in his first civil case in 2001, and joined the majority in divided cases 61.54%, 68.75% and fifty percent of the time.

In Table 993, we address Justices McMorrow, Miller, Moran, Nickels and Rarick.  Although Justice McMorrow was in the majority of divided cases between eighty and ninety-three percent of the time for the years 1998 to 2000, as a general rule, she was in the majority between seventy and eighty percent of the time.  Justice Miller’s rate showed an unusual level of variance: two years in the sixties (1991-1992), four years in the seventies (1990, 1993, 1995, 1997), three years in the eighties (1996, 1999-2000) and three years between ninety and one hundred percent (1994, 1998, 2001).  Justice Moran’s rate varied only around a three-point band, from 89.47% in 1990 to 92.31% the following year.  Justice Nickels generally voted with the majority in divided cases between seventy and eighty-five percent of the time.  Justice Rarick, who voted in his first civil case in 2002, was with the majority 100% of the time that year and 90% the next.

Finally, we review the numbers for Justices Rathje, Ryan, Stamos, Thomas and Ward.  Justices Ryan, Stamos and Ward all voted in their final divided civil cases in 1990, joining the majority in 70.59%, 81.25% and 76.47% of those cases, respectively.  Justice Rathje joined the majority 85% of the time in 1999 and 78.57% in 2000.  In his first three years on the Court, Justice Thomas voted with the majority in 83.33%, 76.47% and 71.43% of divided cases.

Join us here next time as we review the data for the years 2004 through 2018.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Doug Kerr (no changes).

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