Last week, we looked at how defendants have fared in criminal cases. Of course, in a sense that amounts to asking how prosecutors are doing. So this week, we ask the flip side of that question – how have public entities fared in civil cases between 1994 and 2016?
In Table 225, we report the data for the years 1994 through 2005, reporting the percentage of cases with a clear winner – either an affirmance or reversal – which public entities won. For the most part, public entities have been faring quite well. In only two of these twelve years did public entities win less than half of their cases as petitioner. Public entity respondents fell below fifty percent in only three of twelve years – quite a number given that in most years, the Court reverses fifty to sixty percent of the cases it hears.
In 1994, public entity petitioners got reversals in 83.33% of their cases. Respondents prevailed 55.56% of the time. The numbers flipped in 1995 – petitioners won only 55%, but respondents won 75% of their cases. In 1996, public entity petitioners won all six of the cases with a clear winner. Respondents won only 37.5% of their cases. The following year, petitioners won 77.78% (seven of nine, with five split decisions), and respondents won even more often – 83.33% of their cases. In 1998, both sides were quite close – petitioners won 61.54% of their cases and respondents won 63.64%. In 1999, petitioners were 4-3 at the Court for a winning percentage of 57.14% (about the average for private entities). Public entity respondents had a rough time of it, though, winning only 36.36% of their cases. In 2000, it was petitioners’ turn, winning only 28.57% of their cases. But respondents won three-quarters of theirs.
2001 was a comparatively rough year at the Court for public entities – petitioners won only 57.14% of their cases, and respondents won only 28.57% of their cases. But things turned around the following year – petitioners won seven of eight for a winning percentage of 87.5%, and petitioners won 71.43%. Meanwhile, public entity respondents won only five of twelve cases, for a winning percentage of 41.67%. In 2004, public entity parties fared about as well as private entities did – petitioners won 60% of their cases, and respondents won half of theirs. Finally, in 2005, public entity petitioners only won 28.57% of their cases, while respondents won 57.14%.
Join us back here next time as we look at the years 2006-2016.