What Kind of Constitutional Law Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear in the Criminal Docket?

This week, we’re taking a closer look at what kinds of cases wind up in the Court’s constitutional law docket, and whether the Court is more or less likely to reverse depending on who won below.  Today, we’re reviewing the numbers for the criminal docket.

Yesterday, we showed that the Court has taken roughly equal numbers of conservative and liberal wins from the Court of Appeal on the civil side, but is considerably more likely to reverse conservative decisions.  Similarly, the Court’s criminal law docket is almost evenly divided between cases won by the defendant below – 73 cases – and cases won by the prosecution below – 70 cases.  But the results at the Supreme Court are quite different depending on who won below.  From 1992 to 2017, the Court reversed only 24.29% of prosecution wins in criminal constitutional law cases, while it reversed 83.56% of defendants’ wins.

We review the yearly data for affirmance of prosecution wins in Table 450 below.  The Court affirmed one decision in 1992, one in 1993, two each in 1995 and 1997, six in 1999, two in 2000, three per year in 2001 and 2002 and two in 2004.  In 2005, the Court affirmed in two cases.  The Court affirmed five times in 2006 and 2007, four in 2008, once in 2000, twice in 2010 and one in 2011.  The Court affirmed four times in 2012, once in 2014, once in 2015, twice in 2016 and three times in 2017.

The Court didn’t reverse a single prosecution win in a criminal con law case for the years 1992 through 1998.  The Court reversed once in 1999, twice in 2000, once per year in 2001, 2002 and 2003, three times in 2004 and once per year in 2006, 2007 and 2008.  The Court reversed once in 2010, once in 2011, twice in 2016 and once in 2017.

We review affirmances of defendants’ wins from the Court of Appeal in Table 452.  The Court affirmed in one case per year in 1992, 1994 and 1996.  The Court affirmed three times in 2000 and once each year in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2015.

The yearly data for reversal of defendants’ wins is reported in Table 453.  The Court reversed in two cases per year in 1992 and 1993, four times in 1994, once in 1995, twice in 1996, three times in 1997 and 1998, and twice in 2000.  The Court reversed once in 2001, five times in 2002, three times in 2003, once in 2004 and five times in 2005.

The Court reversed three defendants’ wins in 2006, two in 2007, three in 2008, two in 2009, three each in 2010 and 2011, six in 2012, two in 2013, and one per year in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Overall, the Court reversed completely in 48.59% and reversed in part in another 8.45% of its 142 criminal constitutional law cases, for a total reversal rate of 57.04% – roughly comparable both to the overall reversal rate and to the reversal rate in civil constitutional law cases.

The Court’s reversal rate in criminal constitutional law cases has been relatively consistent across the entire period.  The Court reversed in 53.33% of its cases from 1992 through 1995.  The Court reversed 55.56% of the criminal constitutional law decisions it heard from 1996 through 2000.  Between 2001 and 2005, the Court reversed in 58.82% of its 34 cases.  Between 2006 and 2010, the Court reversed 48.57% of the constitutional law decisions on the criminal docket.

Since 2011, with the ideological split on the Court shifting, the Court’s reversal rate in criminal con law cases has picked up.  Between 2011 and 2016, the Court reversed 73.08% of the time.  Even adding in last year’s two reversals in five cases, the Court has reversed in 67.74% of the criminal constitutional law cases since 2011 – a rate noticeably higher than its trend.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tristan Loper (no changes).

What Kind of Constitutional Law Case is the Court Most Likely to Hear in the Civil Docket?

Last week, we tracked the Court’s yearly caseload in constitutional law on both the civil and criminal dockets.  This week, we’re digging deeper to answer three questions: (1) does the Court tend to take more conservative or liberal decisions from the Court of Appeal involving constitutional law issues; (2) is the Court more (or less) likely to reverse a conservative or liberal constitutional law decision; and (3) overall, how likely is the Court to reverse in a case involving constitutional law issues in comparison to the rest of the Court’s docket?

Across the entire period, the Court only slightly inclined towards taking conservative Court of Appeal decisions.  Between 1992 and 2017, the Court has decided sixty six civil constitutional law cases where we’ve coded the Court of Appeal decision as conservative and 58 liberal decisions.  The Court is substantially more likely to reverse conservative constitutional law decisions than liberal ones.  The Court has reversed in 66% of the conservative cases, well above its trend reversal rate, but in only half of the liberal cases.

In Table 445, we review the yearly data for affirmance of conservative decisions (typically, but not always, decisions favoring defendants).  In 1992, the Court affirmed two such decisions.  It affirmed one in 1994, three in 1995, one in 1997, two in 2000, one in 2001, three in 2002, four in 2004, one per year from 2005 through 2007 and two in 2010, but none since that time.

In Table 446, we review the data for the much more common result – the reversal of a conservative decision.  The Court reversed three times in 1992, twice each in 1993 and 1994, once in 1995, three times in 1996, twice in 1997, once in 1998, twice in 1999 and once per year in 2000 and 2001.

The Court reversed three times in 2002, twice in 2003, four times in 2004, once in 2005, twice in 2006, four times in 2007, once each in 2009 and 2010, three times in 2011, once in 2012 and 2015, twice in 2016 and once in 2017.

In Table 447, we review the data for affirmance of liberal decisions.  The Court affirmed two liberal decisions in 1992, two per year in 1993 and 1994 and one per year in 1995, 1997 and 1998.  The Court reversed in three cases in 1999, two in 2001, one per year in 2002 and 2003, four in 2004, one in 2005, two in 2006 and one each in 2007 and 2008.  The Court affirmed one liberal decision per year in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and two in 2017.

The Court reversed two liberal constitutional law decisions in 1992, one per year in 1993 and 1994, two in 1995, one in 1997 and three in 1999.  The Court reversed two liberal decisions in 2000, three in 2001, one in 2002, two in 2003, three in 2004, four in 2005, two in 2007 and one in 2008.  The Court has reversed only one liberal constitutional law case on the civil side since that time, in 2017.

So was the Court either more or less likely to reverse in constitutional law cases as a whole?  We address the composite data in Table 449.  For the entire period, the Court decided 129 constitutional law cases on the civil side.  The Court reversed completely in 62 cases and partially in another 10, for an overall reversal rate of 55.81% – roughly the same reversal rate as in the docket as a whole.  Although the Court reversed in five of eight cases in 1992, between 1993 and 1995, it reversed only 40% of the time across twenty cases.  Between 1996 and 1999, the Court reversed at a slightly higher rate of 68.42%.

For the years 2000 through 2002, the Court reversed in half its 34 constitutional law cases.  Between 2003 and 2008, things picked up again, as the Court reversed 67.65% of the time.  In the years since, the Court has been less likely to reverse in constitutional law cases than the rest of its civil docket, reversing completely in 37.5% of its civil con law cases, and reversing in part in another 8.33%.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data on the Court’s constitutional law decisions on the criminal law side of the docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Heidi (no changes).

Constitutional Law at the Court, Part 2 – How Many Criminal Con Law Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

Yesterday, we began a review of the Court’s constitutional law caseload on the civil side of the docket.  Today, we begin our review of the Court’s criminal constitutional law cases.

The Court decided four criminal cases in 1992 which principally involved constitutional law issues.  The Court decided three cases in 1993, five in 1994 and three each in 1995 and 1996.

The Court decided five criminal constitutional law cases in 1997, three in 1998, seven in 1999, nine in 2000 and six in 2001.  The Court decided ten criminal constitutional law cases in 2002, but only five in 2003.

The Court decided six criminal constitutional law cases in 2004, seven in 2005 and 2007, nine in 2006 and eight in 2008.  The Court decided three criminal constitutional law cases in 2009, but seven in 2010.

The Court’s constitutional law docket has decreased in recent years on the criminal side, just as it has on the civil side.  The Court decided five criminal constitutional law cases in 2011 and ten in 2012, but only two in 2013, two in 2014, three in 2015, four in 2016 and five cases in 2017.

Join us back here next Thursday as we continue our analysis of the Court’s experience with constitutional law.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tri Nguyen (no changes).

Constitutional Law at the Court, Part 1 – How Many Civil Con Law Cases Does the Court Decide a Year?

Earlier this week at the Illinois Supreme Court Review, we began an intensive review of the Court’s caseload, one area of law at a time.  We began with the area of law most closely identified with courts of last resort – constitutional law.  Let’s start our review of the Court’s decisions with the civil constitutional law cases between 1992 and 2017.

For most of the period, the Court’s caseload of civil constitutional law cases has stayed fairly steady.  In 1992, the Court decided eight civil constitutional law cases.  The Court decided six cases in 1993 and 1994, eight in 1995 and three cases in 1996.

The Court decided five civil constitutional law cases in 1997, two in 1998, nine in 1999 and six in 2000.  The Court decided eight constitutional law cases in 2001, ten in 2002 and five in 2003.

The Court decided five civil constitutional law cases in 2004, eight in 2005, five in 2006 and nine in 2007.  The Court decided only two civil constitutional law cases per year in 2008 and 2009, but decided four cases in 2010.

The Court’s civil constitutional law caseload has edged downward in recent years.  In 2011, the Court decided five civil constitutional law cases.  The Court decided one case in 2012, two in 2013, one in 2014, two each in 2015 and 2016, and five cases in 2017.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Brian Solis (no changes).

I’ve Joined Horvitz & Levy – and We’re Opening a San Francisco Office!

Exciting news from a press release this morning:

Horvitz & Levy LLP, the country’s largest boutique law firm dedicated to civil appeals and trial strategy consulting, is opening a San Francisco office at 505 Sansome Street in the city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid Center, strengthening the firm’s California roots. The new office will be led by Kirk C. Jenkins, the former Chair of Sedgwick LLP’s Appellate Task Force.

Horvitz & Levy has 40 attorneys focused on civil appeals in state and federal courts nationwide. “Given the nature of our practice and the business growth in the Bay Area, it makes sense to increase our presence in Northern California for our clients’ benefit and for all of our attorneys who frequent the area to serve those clients,” said Barry Levy, a member of the firm’s management committee. “We’re looking forward to having Kirk lead our San Francisco office.”

Jenkins, a well-known appellate authority, has served as appellate counsel in more than 200 appeals and writs in state and federal courts across the country. He is a Vice President of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an elected fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and an elected member of the American Law Institute, where he has been active in helping develop the new generation of Restatements of the Law.

“Horvitz & Levy’s focus on appeals and trial strategy consulting is a perfect platform for my practice which, in the last few years, has included litigation support through data analytics and artificial intelligence,” said Jenkins. “More and more legal departments are taking a closer look at analytics to determine the best approach to each case,” added Jenkins. “Nowhere is this more evident than in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where the legal industry is keen to embrace the latest technologies.”

Jenkins will continue to write his data analytics blog The California Supreme Court Review, which studies decision making in the California Supreme Court from a data analytics point of view.

“Horvitz & Levy is known throughout the legal community as the nation’s premier appellate boutique, and I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues to expand our existing practice in Northern California.”

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tiofaidh ar la 1916

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).

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