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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 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…
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 showed that for the most part since 1990, anywhere from twenty to forty-five percent of the Court’s civil decisions have arisen from unpublished decisions at the Court of Appeal.  This time we’re looking at the Court’s criminal docket. Unpublished Court of Appeal decisions are far from the exception in criminal cases – they’re the rule.  In 1991, 91.25% of the Court’s criminal decisions were unpublished below.  That fell to 70% by 1993.  Two years later, the unpublished portion was 81.63%, but after that, it settled in for the most part in the 45-65% range.  In 1999 and…
One bit of conventional wisdom that’s frequently heard about appellate review in California is that if a Court of Appeal opinion isn’t published, seeking Supreme Court review is a hopeless task.  This week, we’re looking at the data to see if that’s true – civil cases in this post, criminal in the next. The short answer is – it isn’t.  In 1990, one-third of the Court’s civil cases were unpublished below.  That dropped to 15% in 1991 but was between 25 and 45% from 1992 to 2005.  In 2006, the unpublished share was 22.64%, and in 2007 it dropped a…
Today, we’re reviewing Justice Groban’s participation in oral arguments in criminal cases for patterns.  Once again, Justice Groban is relatively closely aligned with the majority in most cases. However, his distribution of questions between appellants and respondents is more even than it was on the civil side.  When he votes with the majority to affirm, he averages 1.53 questions to respondents, 1.41 to appellants.  When he votes with the majority to reverse, he averages 1.74 questions to respondents, 1.35 to appellants.  And when he’s in the majority of a split decision, he still more heavily questions the respondents – 1.75…
This week we’re concluding our review of the individual Justices’ question patterns during oral argument by looking at the record of Justice Groban since he took his seat in 2019.  We begin as usual with civil cases. As can be seen in Table 1470 below, data is scant on the civil side because Justice Groban has been very closely aligned with the Court majority so far.  In fact, he has been in the minority in only one civil case which was argued since he took his seat. What evidence we have so far suggests that Justice Groban may diverge from…