Does the Time to Argument and Decision Correlate to How a Criminal Case is Decided?

Last time, we analyzed the data on lag times in civil cases – grant of review to oral argument and argument to decision – to determine whether lag time is correlated with the result in the case: do affirmances or reversals take longer?  We determined that there’s no consistent relationship over time between lag time and result in civil cases.  So what about criminal cases?

The answer is yes – in twenty-five of the past twenty-six years, affirmances have taken longer after the grant of review to be argued than reversals – often considerably longer.

In 1992, affirmances averaged 1,626.97 days from grant to argument, while reversals were argued in an average of 1,072.64 days.  In 1993, affirmances averaged 1,416.56 days and reversals averaged only 575.76 days.  In 1994, affirmances were argued in 973.33 days, while reversals were argued in 425.4 days.  In 1995, affirmances averaged 1,542.67 days to be argued – reversals were argued in 742.78 days.  In 1996, affirmances averaged 1,038.96 days to argument, while reversals averaged 1,099.11 days.  In 1997, affirmances were argued in 1,702.3 days – reversals averaged 582.5 days.

In 1998, affirmances were argued in 1,287.41 days and reversals averaged 739.29 days.  In 1999, affirmances averaged 1,334.39 days, and reversals averaged 448.28 days.  In 2000, affirmances averaged 1,431.41 days from grant to argument and reversals averaged 613 days.  In 2001, affirmances averaged 1,302.94 days.  Reversals averaged 637 days.  In 2002, affirmances were argued in 1,224.79 days, while reversals averaged 508.59 days.  In 2003, affirmances averaged 1,560.29 days and reversals averaged 840.65 days.  In 2004, affirmances averaged 1,685.56 days.  Reversals averaged 776.91 days.

In 2005, affirmances took twice as long to be argued as reversals did – 2,154.46 days to 1,006.92 days.  In 2006, affirmances averaged 2,1193.1 days, and reversals averaged 1,067.15 days.  In 2007, affirmances averaged 1,695.36 days, while reversals were argued in 1,160.46 days.  In 2008, affirmances averaged 1,981.95 days to argue and reversals averaged 1,136.04 days.  In 2009, affirmances once again took twice as long to reach argument – 2,080 days to 913.13 days.

In 2010, affirmances averaged 1,998.85 days to argument, and reversals averaged 630.15 days.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 2,355 days.  Reversals took only 887.82 days to reach argument.  In 2012, affirmances averaged 1,972.29 days.  Reversals averaged 1,185.47 days.  In 2013, affirmances averaged 2,832.73 days from grant to argument.  Reversals averaged only 601.96 days.  In 2014, affirmances averaged 2,318.03 days to 1,692.21 days for reversals.  In 2015, affirmances averaged 2,021.1 days from grant to argument.  Reversals averaged 1,711.52 days.  In 2016, affirmances averaged 2,784.35 days from grant to argument, while reversals averaged 1,965.28 days.  Last year, affirmances averaged 1,919.13 days, while reversals averaged 728 days.

Although the difference was consistently less, affirmances tended to take longer between argument and decision than reversals did too.  Affirmances took longer from argument to decision in 1993-1994, 1996-1997, 200-2003, 2006, 2008-2014 and 2017.

So why would affirmances consistently take longer in criminal law than reversals?  We continue to investigate the facts next time.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Don Graham (no changes).

Does the Time to Argument and Decision Correlate to How a Civil Case is Decided?

Last week, we compared lag times in the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision making – grant of review to argument and argument to decision – to the ultimate result in the case, analyzing whether lag time is correlated to the  result.  The answer is yes – for the most part, affirmances take longer to go from grant to argument, and reversals take longer from argument to decision.  So how about the California Supreme Court?

In Table 432, we plot affirmances against reversals for the first half of the case – from the grant of review to oral argument.  We see that unlike the Illinois Supreme Court, there’s no particularly consistent relationship between affirmances and reversal in terms of lag time: in fourteen of the past twenty-six years, affirmances have taken longer from grant to argument, and reversals have taken longer in twelve years.

In 1992, reversals averaged 396.43 days, while affirmances averaged 393.75 days from grant to argument.  In 1993, affirmances averaged 378.46 days, and reversals averaged 300.47 days.  In 1994, affirmances averaged 380.13 days, and reversals averaged 353.12 days.  In 1995, affirmances averaged 349.7 days, and reversals averaged 317.5 days.  In 1996, reversals averaged 361.1 days, and affirmances averaged 306.1 days.  In 1997, reversals averaged 350.16 days, and affirmances averaged 339.78 days.  In 1998, affirmances averaged 387.41 days, and reversals averaged 358.56 days.  In 1999, affirmances averaged 442.76 days.  Reversals averaged 418.42 days.

In 2000, affirmances averaged 502.65 days from grant to argument, and reversals averaged 464.67 days.  In 2001, affirmances averaged 456.32 days, and reversals averaged 418.88 days.  In 2002, reversals averaged 471 days, and affirmances averaged 398.53 days.  In 2003, reversals averaged 456.29 days, while affirmances averaged 419.33 days.  In 2004, affirmances averaged 546.92 days, while reversals averaged 451.96 days.  In 2005, affirmances averaged 579.9 days, and reversals averaged 499.66 days.

In 2006, reversals averaged 533.74 days from grant to argument, and affirmances averaged 528.61 days.  In 2007, affirmances averaged 568.43 days, while reversals averaged 551.82 days.  In 2008, reversals took longer – 590.42 days to 562.06 days for affirmances.  In 2009, reversals averaged 600.22 days, while affirmances averaged 511.56 days.  In 2010, affirmances averaged 653.57 days from grant to argument, and reversals averaged 519.74 days.

In 2011, reversals took longer – 461.68 days to 428.5 days for affirmances.  In 2012, affirmances averaged 734.43 days, and reversals averaged 609.63 days.  In 2013, affirmances averaged 604.21 days from grant to argument, and reversals averaged 518.13 days.  In 2014, affirmances rose to an average of 665.5 days, while reversals averaged 572 days.  In 2015, reversals were up to 642.3 days, and affirmances averaged 549.89 days.  In 2016, reversals averaged 692.4 days.  Affirmances averaged 669.64 days.  Last year, reversals averaged 678.3 days, while affirmances averaged only 615.69 days.

So what about the period from argument to decision?

There was no clear relationship between case result and lag time from argument to decision either – affirmances took longer in fifteen of the past twenty-six years.  In 1992, affirmances averaged 69.25 days from argument to decision, and reversals averaged 51.11 days.  In 1993, affirmances averaged 60.92 days, and reversals averaged 57.88 days.  In 1994, affirmances averaged 64.94 days, and reversals averaged 63.79 days.  In 1995, affirmances averaged 76.44 days from argument to decision, and reversals averaged 63.13 days.  In 1996, reversals averaged 66 days, and affirmances averaged 56.5 days.  In 1997, affirmances averaged 73.44 days, and reversals averaged 73.13 days.  In 1998, reversals averaged 76.89 days, while affirmances averaged 75.41 days.  In 1999, affirmances averaged 79.19 days, while reversals averaged 67.77 days.  In 2000, reversals averaged 79.11 days, and affirmances averaged 71.65 days.

In 2001, affirmances averaged 71.79 days, while reversals averaged 69.62 days.  In 2002, reversals averaged 76.76 days, while affirmances averaged 72.79 days.  In 2003, affirmances averaged 75.17 days, and reversals averaged 73.34 days.  In 2004, affirmances averaged 72.67 days, and reversals averaged 70.29 days.  In 2005, affirmances averaged slightly longer from argument to decision – 70.76 days to 69.31 days.  In 2006, reversals averaged 68.79 days to 65.72 days for affirmances.  In 2007, affirmances averaged 72.24 days to 68.36 days for reversals.  In 2008, reversals averaged 72.5 days from argument to decision, while affirmance averaged 71.69 days.  In 2009, affirmances took longer to decide – 69.17 days to 67.78 days for reversals.  In 2010, the result was reversed – reversals averaged 65.09 days, and affirmances averaged 62..14 days.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 62.5 days, and reversals averaged 60.4. days.  In 2012, civil cases were almost identical by result – affirmances averaged 69.86 days, and reversals averaged 69.37 days.  In 2013, reversals averaged 71.53 days, while affirmances averaged 67.07 days.

In 2014, affirmances averaged 75.6 days, while reversals averaged 70.36 days.  In 2015, reversals averaged 75.48 days.  Affirmances averaged 73.11 days.  In 2016, reversals averaged 80.55 days from argument to decision, and affirmances averaged 75.14 days.  Last year, reversals averaged 81.09 days.  Affirmances averaged 74.88 days.

So how do the two halves of the cases balance out – is result correlated with lag time over the entire span from grant to argument to decision?

Not surprisingly from the data above, the correlation is not strong.  Affirmances have taken longer to decide in civil cases in fifteen of the past twenty-six years.  Between 1992 and 1995, affirmances consistently took longer than  reversals (1992: 463 to 447.54; 1993: 439.38 to 358.34; 1994: 445.06 to 416.91; 1995: 426.15 to 380.63).  Reversals took longer in 1996 and 1997, but affirmances once again took longer from 1998 through 2001.  For the ten years that followed, the relationship between lag time and result varied almost from one year to the next – neither result was predominant for more than two years at a time.  Finally, from 2012 through 2014, affirmances tended to take longer: 804.29 days to 679 days in 2012; 671.29 days to 589.67 days in 2013; 741.1 days to 642.36 days in 2014.  From 2015 to 2017, reversals have taken longer: 717.78 days to 623 days in 2015; 772.95 days to 744.79 days in 2016; 759.39 days to 690.56 days in 2017.

Join us back here tomorrow as we continue our analysis of the Court’s data on lag times with a look at the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by MoonJazz (no changes).

How Long Do Criminal Cases Take to Argument and Decision?

Last time, we reviewed the lag time data – grant of review to oral argument, and oral argument to decision – for the Court’s civil cases between 1993 and 2017.  Now, we’re turning our attention to the criminal docket.

Lag times for the criminal docket as a whole are skewed, of course, by the death penalty docket, so we’ll do this in three steps over three posts: (1) the overall numbers; (2) the death penalty numbers; and (3) non-death cases.  Overall, in 1993, criminal cases took 996.16 days from grant of review to oral argument, and a further 67 days to decision (as we’ve mentioned on the blog before, we’re currently using the appointment of counsel as a proxy for the grant of review in death penalty cases, since the Court reviews all death penalty judgments as a matter of right).  In 1994, cases took 706.05 days from grant to argument, and 58.98 days to decision.  In 1995, cases took 1,111.39 days from grant to argument, and 57.9 days to decision.  In 1996, cases required 1,031.45 days from grant to argument and 88.68 days to decision.  In 1997, cases were pending 1,091.5 days from grant to argument, and a further 68.82 days to decision.  In 1998, cases were pending 1,077.4 days from grant to argument, and 78.29 days to decision.  In 1999, the grant to argument lag time dropped sharply to 872.88 days.  Cases took 71.81 days from argument to decision.

In 2000, criminal cases required 1,118.93 days from grant to argument and 68.02 days to decision.  In 2001, grant to argument was down slightly to 1,015.9 days, and cases took 65.91 days from argument to decision.  In 2002, cases were pending 847.85 days from grant to argument, and 69.69 days from argument to decision.  In 2003, cases were pending 1,240.87 days from grant to argument, and 79.29 days from argument to decision.  In 2004, cases were pending 1,287.25 days from grant to argument, and 74.08 days to decision.  In 2005, grant to argument lag was up significantly to 1,689.57 days.  Cases took an additional 73.23 days to decision.

In 2006, cases averaged 1,583.3 days from grant to argument and 75.62 days to decision.  In 2007, the first number was down slightly to 1,502.44 days, and cases averaged 70.34 days to decision.  But in 2008, cases averaged 1,648.71 days from grant to argument, and 70.21 days to decision.  In 2009, grant to argument was flat at 1,620.9, and cases averaged 70.74 days to decision.  In 2010, cases averaged 1,511.37 days from grant to argument, and 70.19 days to decision.  In 2011, cases averaged 1,685.94 days from grant to argument, and 70.22 days to decision.

In 2012, criminal cases averaged 1,604.43 days from grant to argument, and 73.22 days from argument to decision.  In 2013, cases averaged 1,763.08 days from grant to argument, and 70.54 days to decision.  In 2014, grant to argument topped 2,000 days for the first time at 2,014.65 days, and cases averaged 69.69 days from argument to decision.  In 2015, cases averaged 1,800.23 days from grant to argument, and 71 days from argument to decision.

In 2016, grant-to-argument reached its highest level of the period – criminal cases averaged 2,420.85 days from grant to argument, and a further 77.17 days to decision.  Last year, the Court nearly succeeded in cutting that number in half, as criminal cases averaged only 1,380.29 days from grant to argument, and 81.74 from argument to decision.

Join us back here next week as we continue considering the data on the Court’s lag times.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Joe Wolf (no changes).

How Long Do Civil Cases Take to Argument and Decision?

Last time, we were reviewing the data on the Court’s record with Court of Appeal cases that sparked a dissent below.  This week, we’re addressing the controversial topic of appellate delays – both from the grant of review to oral argument, and from argument to decision.

We report the data for the years 1993 through 2017 in Table 430 below.  Because of California’s requirement that cases be decided within ninety days of oral argument, as we’ve pointed out before on the blog, nearly all of the Supreme Court’s work takes place before argument.  The Table shows that lag times from grant of review to argument have been steadily increasing for civil cases since 1993, while time from argument to decision is, of course, relatively flat.

In 1993, the Court averaged 323.41 days from grant to oral argument in civil cases, and decided those cases in an average of 59.26 days.  The following year, the lag time from grant to argument was 362.53 days, while the time from argument to decision was 64.57 days.  In 1995, grant to argument was down slightly, to 332.75 days, while lag time from argument to decision was 69.43 days.  In 1996, cases averaged 342.77 days from grant to oral argument, and 65.03 days from argument to decision.  In 1997, civil cases averaged 346 days from grant to argument and 73 days from argument to decision.  In 1998, cases averaged 372.98 days from grant to argument and 76.15 days from argument to decision.  In 1999, the longer lag time topped 400 days for the first time – cases averaged 428.25 days from grant to argument and 72.98 days from argument to decision.  In 2000, cases averaged 476.76 days from grant to argument, and 76.35 days from argument to decision.

In 2001, cases averaged 441.33 days from grant to argument and 69.95 from argument to decision.  The following year, the averages were 436.69 days from grant to argument and 75.46 days from argument to decision.  In 2003, cases averaged 440.11 days from grant to argument and 74.05 days from argument to decision.  In 2004, cases averaged 496.6 days from grant to argument and 71.64 days from argument to decision.

In 2005, the lag time from grant of review to oral argument topped 500 days for the first time – 532.78.  Cases averaged 70.02 days from argument to decision.  In 2006, cases averaged 532.87 days from grant of review to argument and 67.68 days from argument to decision.  In 2007,  the average was 554.32 days from grant of review to argument and 70.13 from argument to decision.  In 2008, cases averaged 579.08 days from grant to argument and 72.18 days from argument to decision.  In 2009, cases averaged 557.73 days from grant of review to oral argument and 68.25 days from argument to decision.  The following year, grant to argument was up a bit, to 562.31 days, while the lag from argument to decision dipped slightly to 64.4.

In 2011, the lag time from grant to argument dipped sharply to 461.82 days.  Cases were decided on averaged 61.33 days after argument.  But the improvement was short-lived.  In 2012, lag time from grant of review to argument increased to 643.23 days in civil cases, and from argument to decision 69.5.  In 2013, cases averaged 559.31 days from grant to argument and 69.63 from argument to decision.  In 2014, cases averaged 609.43 days from grant of review to argument and 70.35 days from argument to decision.  In 2015, cases averaged 616.31 days from grant of review to argument and 74.81 days from argument to decision.  In 2016, civil cases averaged 674.97 days from grant to argument and 78.97 days from argument to decision.  Finally last year, civil cases averaged 641.12 days from grant of review to argument and 78.81 days from argument to decision.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data from the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Laila Goubran (no changes).

Are Criminal Cases With a Dissent More Often Reversed?

Yesterday, we reviewed the year by year data, studying whether Court of Appeal cases with a dissenter were more often reversed than unanimous decisions.  Today, we’re studying the Court’s criminal cases.

The answer for criminal cases is clear: yes, cases with a dissent are more likely to be reversed than unanimous decisions, generally by a wide margin.  In 1993, 60% of divided decisions and 44.44% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 1994, all the divided decisions and 47.5% of decisions with a dissent were reversed.  In 1995, two-thirds of divided decisions and 43.48% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 1996 and 1997, all of the Court’s unanimous criminal decisions were overturned.  On the unanimous side, 38.46 and 51.22% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 1998, 80% of divided decisions were reversed, but only 30% of unanimous decisions were.  In 1999, 100% of divided decisions were reversed, but only 45.45% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2000, half of the divided decisions were reversed, while 34.04% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2001, all of the unanimous decisions were reversed, but only 38.89% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2002, two-thirds of the divided decisions were reversed, while 49.15% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2003, 80% of unanimous decisions were reversed, and 36.21% of the Court’s unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2004, 76.92% of divided decisions were reversed, while only 36.67% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2005, three-quarters of the Court’s divided decisions and 35.09% of the unanimous decisions were overturned.  In 2006, all of the Court’s divided decisions and 46.94% of the Court’s unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2007, 70% of the Court’s divided decisions were reversed, while only 25.49% of the Court’s unanimous decisions were.

In 2008, half the divided criminal decisions were reversed and 30.36% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2009, three-quarters of decisions with dissents were reversed, and 31.58% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  All of the Court’s divided criminal cases were reversed in 2010 and 2011.  In 2010, the reversal rate for unanimous decisions was 30.88%.  In 2011, only 20.45% of the Court’s unanimous criminal decisions were reversed.  In 2012, 42.86% of the Court’s divided decisions and 42.86% of the unanimous decisions were reversed.

In 2013, all of the Court’s divided decisions were reversed, but only 38.64% of the Court’s unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2014, two-thirds of the  Court’s divided decisions were reversed, but 40.38% of the unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2015, none of the Court’s divided decisions were reversed, and 52.27% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2016, all of the Court’s decisions with dissents were reversed, and 53.06% of the unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2017, only one-third of decisions with dissents were reversed, and 43.59% of the Court’s unanimous decisions were reversed.

Join us back here next Thursday as we address another issue in our study of the Court’s decision-making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Kai Schreiber (no changes).

Are Civil Cases With a Dissent More Often Reversed?

Last week, we reviewed the data on whether cases published at the Court of Appeal are more frequently reversed by the Supreme Court.  This week, we’re reviewing a similar question: are cases with a dissent at the Court of Appeal systematically more likely to be reversed at the Supreme Court?

For two-thirds of the years since 1993, civil cases with a  dissent were more frequently reversed than unanimous decisions.  In 1993, divided decisions were reversed 87.5% of the time, while unanimous decisions were reversed in 65.79% of cases.  In 1994, 69.23% of divided decisions and 65.79% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 1995, 55.56% of unanimous decisions were reversed to 41.67% of divided decisions.  In both 1996 and 1997, 80% of divided decisions were reversed, while 64% (1996) and 62.22% (1997) of unanimous decisions were reversed.

In 1998, only a quarter of decisions with a dissent were reversed while 52% of unanimous civil decisions were.  The next year, 57.14% of divided decisions were reversed to 60% of unanimous decisions.  In 2000 and 2001, 77.78 and 83.33% of divided decisions.  Only half the unanimous decisions each year were reversed.

In 2002, none of the divided civil decisions were reversed, while 53.19% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2003, all of the decisions with dissents were reversed, but only 69.05% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2004, 71.43% of divided decisions were reversed, but only half the unanimous decisions were.  The following year, 60% of divided decisions and 56.52% of unanimous decisions were reversed.

In 2006, 62.5% of divided decisions and 64.44% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2007, two-thirds of divided decisions and 55.32% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2008, two-thirds of decisions with dissents and 58.06% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2009, half of the divided decisions and 52.5% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2010, only a third of divided decisions were reversed; 56.41% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2011, all of the divided decisions were reversed, while 62.5% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2012, 83.33% of decisions with a dissent were reversed, while 70% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2013, half of divided decisions were reversed, and 46.67% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2014, two-thirds of divided decisions were reversed, but only 45% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  In 2015, all of the divided decisions were reversed, and 70.97% of unanimous decisions were.  In 2016, 57.14% of divided decisions and 55.17% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  Last year, three-quarters of divided decisions and half of all unanimous decisions were overturned.

Join us tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Dale Cruse (no changes).

 

Are Published Criminal Cases More Often Reversed?

Last week, we looked at the data on how prevalent unpublished Court of Appeal opinions are in the Court’s civil and criminal dockets.  Yesterday, we looked at a related question: are published Court of Appeal opinions in civil cases reversed by the Supreme Court at a consistently higher (or lower) rate than unpublished decisions are?  We showed that there is no consistent relationship between published and unpublished lower court decisions in civil cases with respect to the likelihood of reversal.

But what about criminal cases?  We report the data in Table 427, and clearly, criminal cases are a different story.  Criminal cases which were published at the Court of Appeal level were more often reversed than unpublished Court of Appeal cases in twenty-one of the twenty-four years since 1994.

In 1994, published decisions were reversed 44.44% of the time, while unpublished decisions were reversed in 41.18% of cases.  In 1995, 75% of published decisions were reversed, but 39.02% of unpublished decisions were.  In 1996, the rate for published cases was 57.14% to 35.71% for unpublished decisions.  In 1997, 62.5% of published decisions were reversed; 48.15% of unpublished decisions were.  In 1998, 41.67% of published decisions were reversed.  One-third of unpublished decisions were.  In 1999, 57.69% of published decisions were reversed.  The reversal rate for unpublished decisions was 40.91%.  In 2000, published decisions were reversed 46.43% of the time, while only 25.93% of unpublished decisions were reversed.

2001 was one of the few outlier years – 42.31% of published decisions were reversed and 46.88% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2002, 63.41% of published decisions were reversed.  The reversal rate for unpublished decisions fell slightly to 40%.  In 2003, reversal rates fell on both sides to 50% for published decisions and 32.43% for unpublished decisions.  In 2004, 60% of published decisions were reversed, while 32.56% of unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 2005, 56% of published decisions were reversed, while only a quarter of unpublished decisions were.  In 2006, 73.68% of published criminal decisions were reversed, while 38.24% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2007, half of published decisions were reversed, but only 18.18% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2008, 58.62% of published decisions were reversed, while the reversal rate on the unpublished side fell to 13.51%.

In 2009, 56% of published decisions were reversed, while only 19.44% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2010, the reversal rate for published decisions was 50%.  The reversal rate for unpublished decisions was 26.67%.  In 2011, the reversal rate for published decisions was 53.33%.  The reversal rate for unpublished criminal decisions was 22.22%.  In 2012, the two sides converged – 43.24% of published decisions were reversed, and 42.5% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2013, two-thirds of published decisions were reversed, while only 34.38% of unpublished decisions were reversed.  In 2014, 57.14% of published decisions were reversed.  The reversal rate for unpublished cases was 32.35%.

2015 was one of the few years where unpublished decisions were more often reversed – 54.17% for unpublished decisions, 50% for published decisions.  In 2016, 61.9% of published decisions were reversed, while 51.61% of unpublished decisions were reversed.  Last year, reversals among published decisions fell to 39.13%, while 47.37% of unpublished decisions were reversed.

Join us back here next Thursday as we turn our attention to a new question.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

Are Published Civil Cases From the Court of Appeal More Often Reversed by the Supreme Court?

Last week, we tracked the yearly data as to how high a portion of the Court’s docket on both the civil and criminal sides consisted of published decisions from the Court of Appeal.  This week, we’re analyzing another aspect of the difference between published and unpublished Court of Appeal decisions.  Are decisions which were published below more likely to be published?  One can imagine theories to justify either possible answer.  Perhaps because they are precedent below, published Court of Appeal decisions are more stringently reviewed, and therefore more often reversed.  Or perhaps, since unpublished Court of Appeal decisions aren’t precedential, the grant of review indicates that the Supreme Court believes the decision is wrong, suggesting that the reversal rate for unpublished decisions might be higher.

We report the yearly data from 1993 to 2017 in Table 426.  Clearly, the answer is no – neither published nor unpublished civil cases are consistently reversed at a faster pace.  Indeed, for many years, the reversal rate for published and unpublished civil decisions is quite close.  In 1993, published civil cases were reversed 73.33% of the time, while unpublished civil cases were reversed 68.75% of the time.  In 1994, published decisions were reversed in 62.5% of cases and unpublished decisions were reversed 73.68% of the time.  In 1995, published decisions were reversed 55.88% of the time, and unpublished decisions were reversed in 47.83% of cases.  Beginning in 1996, the reversal rate of unpublished decisions jumped to 83.33%, and it remained at 80% in 1997.  The reversal rate for published decisions stayed flat – 55.56% in 1996, 53.33% in 1997.  But that didn’t change the long-term trend; the reversal rate for unpublished decisions was between 50% and 70% every year from 2002 to 2008.  The rate for published decisions was somewhat more variable: 50% in 2002, 75% in 2003, 45.71% in 2004, 52.94% in 2005, 63.41% in 2006, 59.09% in 2007 and 60% in 2008.

The reversal rate for published decisions remained at the same level in 2009 (57.14%) and 2010 (63.33%), while the reversal rate for unpublished decisions fell to one-third.  In 2011, 82.61% of published decisions were reversed, while 60% of unpublished decisions were.  In 2012, 71.43% of published decisions were reversed, while 80% of unpublished decisions were.  The following year, reversals fell to 45.45% on the published side and to 50% on the unpublished side.  In 2014, reversals increased slightly on the published side to 47.37%, and remained at 50% for unpublished decisions.  In 2015, published civil cases were reversed 71.43% of the time.  Unpublished decisions were reversed 75% of the time.  In 2016, published civil cases were reversed 55.17% of the time, and unpublished civil cases were reversed 57.14% of the time.  Finally, in 2017, published civil cases were reversed 57.58% of the time.  Unpublished cases were reversed in 44.44% of cases.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data for the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Mark Hogan (no changes).

How Many of the Court’s Criminal Cases are Published at the Court of Appeal?

Yesterday, we reviewed the year-by-year data, looking at how much of the Court’s civil docket is cases which were published at the Court of Appeal.  We found that fairly consistently for the past twenty-four years, the Court has averaged between sixty and eighty percent of its civil docket in published cases.

It’s a very different story on the criminal side.  In Table 424, we report the raw numbers – the year by year total number of criminal law decisions which were published below.  The data shows a high degree of variability from one year to the next.  In 1994 and 1995, only nine and eight of the Court’s criminal decisions, respectively, were published below. From 1996 to 1998, that number rose a bit, to 14 (1996), 16 (1997) and 12 (1998).  In 1999, 26 of the Court’s criminal cases were published below.  In 2000, the number was 28 cases, and in 2001, there were 26 again.  In 2002, the Court decided 41 criminal cases which were published below.  In 2003, there were 26; in 2004, there were 30, and in 2005, there were 25.  In 2006, 19 criminal cases were published.  In 2007, 28 were, and in 2008, 209 were.  In 2009, 25 cases were published below.  In 2010, 28 cases were published.  In 2011, 15 criminal cases were published at the Court of Appeal.  In 2012, 37 cases were published, but the numbers have been flat since – 18 cases in 2013, 19 in 2014, 20 in 2015, 21 in 2016 and 19 in 2017.

In Table 425, we report the year-by-year data as a percentage of the Court’s criminal docket each year.  The data shows that although the share of the criminal docket accounted for by published cases edged upwards around 2000, published cases have never dominated the criminal docket the way they do on the civil side.  In 1994, 21.95% of the criminal docket was published below.  In 1995, only 16.33% was.  In 1996, one third of the criminal docket was published below.  In 1997, 36.36% was.  In 1998, 26.67% of the criminal docket was published below.  In 1999, the number jumped to 54.17%, and it was 50.91% in 2000.

In 2001, 44.83% of the criminal docket was published below.  In 2002, it was 57.75%.  The published portion was almost identical the next three years – 41.27% in 2003, 41.1% in 2004 and 40.98% in 2005.  In 2006, 35.85% of the criminal docket was published.  In 2007, 45.9% was.  In 2008, 43.94% of the criminal cases were published, and in 2009, 40.98% were.  In 2010, 38.36% of the criminal docket was published.  In 2011, 29.41% was.  In 2012, the published share rose to 48.05%.  Since that time, the published share has been fairly consistent – 36% in 2013; 34.55% in 2014; 45.45% in 2015; 40.38% in 2016 and 45.24% in 2017.

Join us back here next week as we continue our work on the Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Rex Boggs (no changes).

How Many of the Court’s Civil Cases Are Published at the Court of Appeal?

Last time, we were evaluating how much of the Court’s civil and criminal dockets came from divided Court of Appeal decisions, and whether decisions with a dissenter typically took longer to decide at the Supreme Court level.  This week, we’re looking at a new issue – how much of the Court’s docket is accounted for by published decisions?  The conventional wisdom is that the Court spends nearly all its time reviewing published decisions, and that makes sense – you would expect that any issue important enough to draw the Supreme Court’s attention would have been important enough to be published below.  So let’s start with the civil docket.

In Table 422 below, we report the raw numbers – year by year, how many civil cases did the Court decide which were published at the Court of Appeal level.  In 1994, 32 of the Court’s civil decisions were published below.  In 1995, 34 were.  The number dipped to only 18 in 1996, but was relatively steady from 1997 through 2005, always hovering in the mid-30s.  In 2006, 41 of the Court’s decisions were published below.  In 2007, 44 were.  Between 2008 and 2010, the number reverted to trend – 35, 35 and 30 published decisions, respectively.

Since 2010, in terms of raw numbers, published decisions on the civil side have been dropping.  In 2011, 23 of the Court’s civil decisions were published below.  In 2012, 21 were, and the following year, 22 were.  In 2014, 19 civil decisions were published below.  Since that time, the number’s been edging upwards – 28 in 2015, 29 in 2016 and 33 last year.

Of course, the significance of all that depends on just how many cases the Court decided each year.  So below, we report the same data, with the number of civil decisions published below reported as a percentage of the total civil docket.  What we see is that with only occasional short spikes, the number has been quite steady, sitting at between 60 and 80 percent for most of the past twenty-four years.

The years 1994-1997 were almost flat – 62.75% in 1994, 59.65% in 1995 and 60% in 1996 and 1997.  In 1998, 72.22% of the Court’s civil docket was published below.  In 1999, the number dropped slightly to 63.46%.  The following year, it was 63.27%.  In 2001, 68.75% of the civil docket was published.  In 2002, 70.83% was, and in 2003, it was 72.73%.  The share was flat in 2004 and 2005 – 66.04% in 2004, 66.67% in 2005.

The share rose a bit from 2006 through 2009 – 77.36% in 2006, 78.57% in 2007, 87.5% in 2008 and 79.55% in 2009.  In 2010, 71.43% of the civil docket was published, and that fell to only 69.7% in 2011.  In 2012, 80.77% of the civil docket was published.  That dipped again to 68.75% in 2013, but has been steady since – 82.61% in 2014, 87.5% in 2015, 78.38% in 2016 and 78.57% last year.

Join us back here tomorrow as we take a look at the Court’s criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Charlie Day (no changes).

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