Illinois Supreme Court Review

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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). …
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 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…
Last week, we addressed the frequently heard claim that seeking Supreme Court review of an unpublished decision from the Appellate Court is a hopeless task.  This week, we’re addressing a similar claim – that the Supreme Court doesn’t review unanimous decisions.  Below, we’ll address the data from civil cases, and in our next post, we’ll look at the criminal cases. In Table 1689, we report the percentage of the Court’s civil decisions every year that had a dissent below.  If the claim we’re analyzing is correct – that only divided decisions get reviewed – then the number should be somewhere…
  Last time, we demonstrated that notwithstanding the frequently heard claim that seeking review of a Rule 23 (unpublished) decision from the Appellate Court is a hopeless task, anywhere from ten to forty percent of the Court’s civil docket has consisted of Rule 23 orders for the past thirty years.  So what about criminal cases? It turns out publication is nearly irrelevant to assessing a criminal decision’s chances of getting Supreme Court review.  In 1990, 44.93% of the criminal docket was unpublished below.  From 1991 to 2003, the unpublished share was over half every year, reaching a high of 77.78%…
Like most sectors of the bar, there are certain items of “conventional wisdom” in the appellate bar that everyone has heard (or said themselves).  In both Illinois and California, one of those claims is that it’s pointless to seek Supreme Court review of a decision that wasn’t published by the lower court.  After all, if the Appellate Court didn’t think the decision was important enough to publish, why would the Supreme Court think it was important enough to decide?  On the other hand, if the Supreme Court actually is frequently reviewing Rule 23 Orders, it can be argued that one…
Yesterday, we reviewed the data on Justice Neville’s question patterns since joining the Court in civil cases.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal side. Justice Neville has not been a particularly active questioner thus far in criminal cases.  He more heavily questions the eventual loser when he’s in the majority of criminal cases, although the difference isn’t large.  He averages 0.1 questions to appellants, 0.05 to appellees in affirmances; and 0.28 to appellees, 0.12 to appellants when he’s in the majority of a reversal.  When he joins a split result, he averages 0.13 questions to appellees and none to appellants. …
This week we’re concluding our trip through the Justice-by-Justice oral argument analytics data to determine whether it’s possible to predict when a particular Justice is dissenting (although Justice Michael Burke replaced Justice Thomas earlier this year, there is too little data so far to reach any conclusions about his arguments).  Today and tomorrow, we’re looking at Justice Neville’s numbers, first for civil cases, then for criminal cases. So far, Justice Neville has not been particularly active in civil cases.  When he’s voting with the majority to affirm, he averages 0.1 questions to appellants and 0.05 to appellees.  When he’s joining…
This time, we’re reviewing the data for Justice Theis’ question patterns in criminal cases. When Justice Theis agrees with the majority in an affirmance, she follows the expected pattern, averaging 3.22 questions to appellants and only 1.38 to appellees.  However, she breaks from the pattern in reversals, more heavily questioning the winner – 3.02 to appellants, 2.66 to appellees.  When Justice Theis joins the majority in a split result – affirmed in part, reversed in part – her numbers are almost identical – 2.3 questions to appellants, 2.23 to appellees. Once again, in most cases where Justice Theis breaks with…