This time, we’re reviewing the average votes to affirm each District and Division of the Court of Appeal in non-unanimous cases.

In 1990, Division One of the First District averaged four votes to affirm.  In 1991, Division Four of the First averaged six votes.  In 1992, Division Three of the First and Division Four of the Second District averaged four votes.  In 1993, Division One of the First District averaged two votes to affirm.  In 1994, Division One of the First District averaged six votes.

In 1990, Division Two of the Fourth District averaged five votes.  In 1991, the Fifth District averaged five votes.  In 1992, Division One of the Fourth and the Fifth District averaged three votes to affirm.  In 1993, Division Six of the Second District and Division One of the Fourth had 3.5 votes to affirm apiece.  In 1994, Division Five of the Second District averaged 2.67 votes to affirm.

In 1995, Division Three of the Second District averaged four votes to affirm.  In 1996, Division Three of the First District averaged six votes to affirm.  In 1997, Division Three of the Second District averaged 3.67 votes to affirm.  In 1998, Division Three of the First District averaged 4.33 votes.  In 1999, Division 5 of the First District averaged four votes.

In 1995, the Fifth District averaged six votes to affirm.  In 1996, the Third District averaged 3.2 votes.  In 1997, the Fifth District averaged 2.75 votes to affirm.  In 1998, the Third District averaged six votes to affirm.  In 1999, Division One of the Fourth District averaged five votes to affirm.

Join us back here later in the week as we address the data for the years 2000 through 2009.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jim Moore (no changes).

 

This week, we’re beginning a detailed analysis of the votes to affirm each Division and District of the Court of Appeal: (1) how often is each court affirmed unanimously; and (2) what was the average votes to affirm each Court, year by year?

In Table 1514, we report the first half of the Districts’ percentage of unanimous affirmances.  In 1990, one-third of the civil decisions from Division Three of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  Twenty percent of the decisions from Division One of the Second were affirmed unanimously.  In 1991, half the civil decisions from Division Three of the First District and Division Three of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1992, one-quarter of the decisions from Division Two of the First District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1993, all of the decisions from Division Two of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1994, all of the decisions from Division Four of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.

In 1990, all of the decisions from Division Three of the Fourth District were unanimously affirmed.  In 1991, half of the decisions from District Five were affirmed unanimously.  In 1992, two-thirds of the decisions from Division Seven of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1993, all of the decisions from Division Five of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1994, half of the decisions from Division One of the Fourth District were affirmed unanimously.

In 1995, half of the decisions from Division Four of the First District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1996, all of the decisions from Division Two of the First District were.  In 1997, all of the decisions from Division One of the First District and all of the decisions from Division Four of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1998, half the decisions from Division Four were affirmed unanimously.  In 1999, all of the decisions from Division Three of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.

 

In 1995, half of the decisions from the Third District were affirmed unanimously.  The following year, all of the decisions from Division Six of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1997, Division Five of the Second District and the Sixth District had all their decisions affirmed unanimously.  In 1998, half of the cases from the Sixth District were affirmed unanimously.  In 1999, all of the decisions from the Fifth District were affirmed unanimously.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for year-by-year votes to affirm.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bill Ward (no changes).

This time, we’re reviewing the individual Justices’ rates of voting with the majority during the years 2010 to 2020 in order to discern which Justices might have been driving the small changes in the unanimity rate.

In Table 1512, we review the data for Chief Justice Ronald George and Justices Corrigan, Kennard, Kruger, Werdegar and Groban.  In 2010, Justices Corrigan and Werdegar were at 89.47% and both Chief Justice George and Justice Kennard were just over 95%.  In 2011, both Justices Corrigan and Kennard were over 93% and Justice Werdegar was with the majority in 100%.   Justice Kennard fell to 84.62% in 2012, but Justices Werdegar and Corrigan were both in the nineties.  In 2013, Justices Corrigan and Kennard were in the nineties and Justice Werdegar was back at 100%.  In 2014, Justice Kennard was with the majority in 100% of her final cases pre-retirement, Justice Corrigan was at 95.83%, but Justice Werdegar dropped to 78.26%.  In 2015, Justices Corrigan, Kruger and Werdegar were all well over 90%.  In 2016, all three dropped into the eighties.  In 2017, all three were once again in the nineties.  In 2018, both Justices Corrigan and Kruger had majority voting rates of 100%.  In 2019 and 2020, all three Justices were in the high nineties.

In Table 1513, we review the data for Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Chin, Baxter, Cuellar, Moreno and Liu.  In 2010, Justices Chin and Baxter had majority voting rates of 95%.  Justice Moreno was at 90.48%.  For 2011, Justices Baxter, Moreno and Liu were all at 100%.  The Chief Justice and Justice Chin were in the mid-nineties.  In 2012, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Baxter had a majority voting record of 100%.  Justice Chin’s rate was 96% and Justice Liu was at 92.31%.  In 2013, the Chief Justice was once again at 100%.  Justice Liu was at 96.88%.  Justices Chin and Baxter were just below 90%.  In 2014, the Chief Justice was at 95.65%.  Justice Chin was with the majority in 91.3% of cases.  Justice Baxter voted with the majority in 90.91% of case and Justice Liu did in 86.96%.

In 2015, all five Justices – the Chief Justice and Justices Chin, Cuellar and Liu – were over 90%.  The same was true the following year for three of the four, excepting only Justice Chin at 88.57%.  All four Justices have voted with the majority in 90% or more of civil cases in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Join us back here next time as we address the data on the criminal side.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bureau of Land Management (no changes).

 

 

This time, we’re looking at the Supreme Court’s unanimity rate in civil cases between 2010 and 2020, tracking the data alongside changes in the Court’s party alignment.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Court continued to have six Republican nominees and only one Democrat.  Although the Table seems to suggest a sharp drop in the unanimity rate during these years, in fact, it was less then ten points from high point to trough.  The Court decided 78.57% of its civil cases unanimously in 2010.  That number dipped slightly to 75.76% in 2011 and 73.08% in 2012 before rising back to 78.13% in 2013.  The unanimity rate was 69.57% in 2014.

From 2015 to 2018, the Court consisted of four Republican nominees and three Democratic nominees.  The unanimity rate saw a one-year dip from 87.5% in 2015 to only two-thirds in 2016, but rose back to 76.19% in 2017 and 93.94% in 2018.

Beginning with Justice Groban taking his seat, the party makeup of the Court shifted in 2019 to four Democrats and three Republicans.  The unanimity rate has been stable: 85.29% in 2019 and 86.21% in 2020.

Join us back here next time as we address the individual Justices’ rates of voting with the majority.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Sheila Sund (no changes).

 

 

 

The party alignment of the Supreme Court remained at six Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee from 2000 through 2009.  Across the entire period, the unanimity rate was 66.05% – twenty points higher than the unanimity rate for the 1990s.  The unanimity rate for 2000 was only 48.98%.  It rose to 56.25% for 2001.  After that, the unanimity rate was comparable each year – 60.42% in 2002, 61.36% in 2003, 62.36% in 2003, 62.26% in 2004, 78.43% in 2005, 73.58% in 2006 and 60.71% in 2007.  In 2008, the unanimity was 77.5%.  It increased to a high of 84.09% in 2009.

Join us back here next week as we continue our review of the Court’s unanimity rate data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Nick Amoscato (no changes).

 

This week, we’ve following up our discussion of the academic literature on panel effects with a review of the Court’s unanimity rates compared against the evolving party alignment of the Court.

For 1990 and part of 1991, the party alignment of the Court was five Republicans and two Democrats.  For those two years, the Court’s unanimity rate was 53.03%.  The rate was two-thirds in 1990 and one-third in 1991.

The party alignment of the Court from late 1991 through 1999 was six Republican appointees and one Democratic.  For the entire period, the Court had a unanimity rate of 46.55%.  The Court’s unanimity rate was between forty and fifty percent for the years 1992 through 1995.  IT rose to 54.84% in 1996, but fell to 36% in 1997.  It rose back to 46.3% in 1998 and 53.85% in 1999.

Join us back here next time as we continue our review of the Court’s data for the years 2000 through 2009.

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

This time, we’re concluding our four-part post, both here and on the Illinois Supreme Court Review, discussing some of the academic literature on panel effects in appellate decision-making.

Today, we’re looking at “Judging the Voting Rights Act,” 108 Columbia Law Rev. 1 (2008), by Professors Adam B. Cox and Thomas J. Miles.  The authors began by collecting every published Federal decision decided pursuant to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act since 1982.

The study concludes that appointees of Democratic Presidents voted to find liability in 36.2% of cases, while Republican appointees found liability in only 21.2% of cases.  For cases decided between 1982 and 1994, Democratic appointees found liability at a rate seventeen percentage points higher than Republican appointees.  For cases decided between 1995 and 2008, the margin between Democratic and Republican appointees decreased to only a nine-point margin for the Democrats.  In cases involving at-large elections, Democratic appointees voted to impose liability 44% of the time, while Republican appointees voted to impose liability only 22% of the time.

The authors then demonstrated that once again, panel selection mattered for the case result.  When panels consisted of three Democratic appointees, the likelihood of an individual judge voting to find liability was 40.7%.  When the panel consisted of two Democrats and one Republican appointee, that percentage fell to 32.8% of cases.  When the panel consisted of one Democrat and two Republican appointees, the likelihood that a given judge would vote for liability was 27.8%.

When the panel consisted of two Democratic appointees and one Republican, the likelihood of a judge voting to find liability was 23.9%.  When the panel was two Republicans and one Democrat, the likelihood of a judge voting to find liability was 21.3%.  When the panel was entirely Republicans, the likelihood dropped to only 11.1%.

The authors also studied the data for voting patterns based on the race of the appellate judge.  Voting patterns for African-American judges were close to identical across the board.  All African-American judges voted to impose Section 2 liability 55.8% of the time.  Democratic African-American appointees voted to find liability 55.9% of the time.  Republican African-American appointees voted to find liability in 55.6% of cases.  All other judges (not African-American) voted to find Section 2 liability 26.1% of the time.  Democratic appointees in that subgroup voted for liability in 33.7% of cases.  Republicans found liability in 20.4% of cases.

Join us back here next week as we turn our attention to a new inquiry.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Karlis Dambrans (no changes).

Earlier this week, we began a four-part post at the Illinois Supreme Court Review briefly reviewing some of the leading academic literature on the phenomenon of “panel effects” – the theory that appellate panels are a collective decision-maker rather than a group of individual decision-makers, and thus a particular judge’s vote is influenced to some degree by the characteristics of the other judges he or she is sitting with.

Today, we’re looking at two more studies which are typical of the literature, beginning with Ideological Voting on Federal Courts of Appeals: A Preliminary Investigation, John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 198 (2003), by Professors Cass R. Sunstein, David Schkade and Lisa Michelle Ellman.  The authors assembled a massive database from the Courts of Appeals consisting of 4,488 published decisions and 13,464 separate judge votes.  Although how to define what is a “liberal” or “conservative” vote is a topic which has divided empirical researchers for generations, the authors calculated that judges appointed by a Democratic President cast 60% liberal votes, which Republican appointees cast only 46% liberal votes.

They then considered panel effects.  A panel consisting of three Democratic appointees averaged 66% liberal votes (six points higher than any randomly selected Democratic appointee alone).  When one Democrat was removed from the panel and replaced by a Republican appointee to sit with the two Democrats, the Republican cast 54% liberal votes (eight points higher than a given Republican alone).  Pair a single Democrat with two Republicans, and the Democratic appointee dropped seven points to 53% liberal votes.

The authors then isolated campaign finance decisions in the database, measuring how often each panel voted to uphold a regulation.  Here, ideological diversity had a substantial impact.  A panel consisting of one Republican appointee and two Democrats upheld only 35% of regulations.  Two Republicans and one Democrat dropped that percentage an additional five points.  A panel of three Republicans upheld only 23% of regulations.  Swap one Republican out for a Democratic appointee, and that rose to 40%.  Two Democrats and a Republican had almost the same result – 38%.  Only before panels consisting of three Democratic appointees was there a substantial impact, as 73% of regulations were upheld.

In 2012, Professor Robert Steinbuch published An Empirical Analysis of Conservative, Liberal and other ‘Biases’ in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Ninth Circuits, 11 Seattle Journal for Social Justice 217 (2012).  Professor Steinbuch collected large databases of cases from the Eighth and Ninth Circuits, collecting several variables from each case: the political party and gender of the trial judge, the number of appeals taken in the past year from the judge’s decisions and the types of cases appealed.  For the 2008 Eighth Circuit data, the author concluded that there was a statistically significant correlation between the political affiliation of the district judge appealed from and the rate of reversal.  For the 2011 cases from the Eighth Circuit, the author concluded that the Court reversed Democratic appointees 15% often than Republican appointees.  On the other hand, for the 2,610 cases in the database from the Ninth Circuit, the article concludes that there was no correlation between the result on appeal and the party of the district judge.

Join us back here next time as we continue our trip through the literature on panel effects.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Damian Gadal (no changes).

We conclude our series by reviewing the data for criminal, quasi-criminal and juvenile justice cases between the years 2010 and 2020.  Once again, Los Angeles led, accounting for 142 cases.  Riverside County was next, followed by San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Sacramento and Alameda counties.  San Francisco, which was among the leaders in civil cases, ranked sixteenth in criminal cases over the past eleven years.

An additional sixteen jurisdictions produced between two and six cases apiece.  Fourteen jurisdictions accounted for one case each.

Join us back here next week as we begin work on a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Pedro Szekely (no changes).

 

This week, we’re concluding our three-week multi-part post on the originating jurisdictions for the California Supreme Court’s civil and criminal cases between 1990 and 2020.  In this post, we’re finishing the civil side of the docket, reviewing the years 2010 to 2020.

As usual, we omit the leading jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, from the Table for the sake of readability.  Los Angeles produced 120 civil cases between 2010 and 2020.  Next was Orange County, with San Diego and San Francisco right behind.  The U.S. District Courts for the Central District and the Northern District were fifth and eighth, respectively.  The next counties in line were Alameda, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Clara, San Bernardino, Fresno and Marin.

Fourteen jurisdictions produced either three or two cases apiece – nearly half of them administrative departments and agencies, including the Public Employment Relations Board, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Coastal Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Water Resources Control Board.

Finally, 53 jurisdictions produced one case each.  Join us back here next time as we review the data for criminal cases during the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Nemanja Pantelic (no changes).