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This week, we’re looking at the relationship between lag time – the number of days from the grant of review by the Supreme Court to the final decision – and the result in the case.  One might expect that lag time has very little relationship to the case result – surely it’s determined by the complexity of the issues and facts and the Court’s caseload.  But is that really true? In fact, there is a moderately strong relationship between lag time and result in civil cases: affirmances were pending longer in 7 of the past 10 years.  In many years,…
This time, we’re comparing the lag time from grant to decision in criminal cases to the ultimate case result.  In order not to bias the data, we begin by eliminating the death penalty and habeas corpus cases, where the determinants of lag time are quite different than non-death criminal cases. Once again, there is a strong relationship between the lag time and the ultimate case result: in eight of the past ten years, affirmances have been pending longer in criminal cases than reversals.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 644.67 days to 488.93 for reversals.  In 2014, affirmances averaged 699.38 days to…
Last time, we showed that there is a mild relationship between the total time pending from the grant of the petition for leave to appeal until final decision by the Supreme Court and the ultimate case result in civil cases: more often than not, affirmances took longer.  Below, we’re reviewing the Court’s criminal cases. In criminal cases, there is a quite strong relationship between lag time and case result, but the relationship goes in the opposite direction: in nine of the past ten years, criminal reversals have been pending longer than affirmances. Once again, the differences were typically not trivial.…
This week, we’re addressing a new issue: does the lag time from the grant of a party’s petition for leave to appeal to a final decision from the Supreme Court tell us anything about what the result is likely to be?  We begin with the civil docket for the years 2011 through 2020. What we see in Table 1693 is that there does seem to be at least a mild relationship between lag time and result in civil cases (in the Table, “A” is affirmances, “R” is reversals, and “AR” is split results – affirmed in part, reversed in part). …
Last time, we reviewed the Court’s civil cases, asking whether divided decisions from the Court of Appeal were more likely to be reversed in whole or in part than unanimous ones.  This time, we’re turning our attention to the criminal cases and finding a very different result. In only four of the past thirty-one years were unanimous criminal decisions from the Court of Appeal more frequently reversed than decisions with a dissent.  In most years, the numbers weren’t at all close (see 1991 – 75% divided cases reversed, 12.9% unanimous ones, 2003 – 80% to 24.14%, 2007 – 60% to…
Two weeks ago, we addressed the question of how common cases with a dissent at the Court of Appeal were on the Supreme Court’s docket.  Our analysis illuminated the issue of whether it’s true that there’s no point in pursuing a petition for review from a unanimous Court of Appeal decision. This week, we’re digging a bit deeper on a related question: are divided decisions from the Court of Appeal more frequently reversed?  The result might help us choose between two possibilities about divided Court of Appeal decisions that wind up at the Supreme Court: does the Court take them…
Now we turn our attention to the criminal docket.  First, we review the data for complete reversal – divided decisions from the Court of Appeal versus unanimous decisions.  In six of the past thirty-one years, the reversal rate for unanimous Court of Appeal decisions has exceeded that for divided ones.  The rest of the time, divided decisions are more likely to be reversed, although we should note that the numbers are frequently fairly close. Next we turn to our combined figure – the percentage reversed outright plus the share reversed in part.  The share is about the same: in six…
Last time, we reviewed the share of the Supreme Court’s civil caseload made up of decisions with a dissenter at the Court of Appeal.  Now let’s look at the criminal cases. It turns out dissenters are even less important on the criminal side.  In 1990, only 1.25% of the criminal docket had a dissenter below.  The share rose to 10% by 1993, but immediately fell back into single digits for five of the next six years.  The share of cases with dissents below rose slightly in the decade following; between 2000 and 2009, the share was between ten and twenty…
Last week we looked at the frequently heard claim that getting Supreme Court review of an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeal is a hopeless task.  This week, we’re looking at a similar bit of conventional wisdom – the Supreme Court doesn’t review unanimous decisions from the Court of Appeal. In the table below, we report the year-by-year percentage of the Court’s civil decisions which had a dissenter at the Court of Appeal.  In other words, if it’s true that the Court doesn’t review unanimous decisions, we would expect the graph line to be at or near 100% every…
Last time, we reviewed the year-by-year percentage of the Supreme Court’s civil caseload that is drawn from Appellate Court cases with a dissenter to evaluate the claim that a petition for leave to appeal from a unanimous decision is a hopeless exercise.  This time, we’re looking at the Court’s criminal cases.  Just like last time, the graph reports the percentage of cases with a dissenter below, so if the Court only reviews divided decisions, it should be close to 100%. It isn’t.  The share of divided Appellate Court decisions was 21.74% in 1990 and 25.86% in 1991, but fell for…