Which District or Division of the Court of Appeal Has Been Reversed Most Often in Criminal Cases Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Last time, we compared the twenty-eight year reversal rate for each District and Division of the Court of Appeal in civil and criminal cases before the Supreme Court.  Then we began our review of the year-by-year data in criminal cases for the First District, and the first half of the Divisions of the Second District.  Today, we’re covering the rest of the state: Divisions Six through Eight of the Second District, Districts Three through Six, and cases which arose directly from the trial courts.

For the entire period, the Supreme Court decided thirty-seven cases from Division Six of the Second District, reversing in whole or in part 67.57% of those decisions.  The Court decided ten cases from the Sixth during the nineties, reversing in seven.  Between 2000 and 2009, the Court decided fourteen cases, reversing in ten.  From 2010 to 2017, the Court has decided twelve cases from Division Six, reversing in seven.

The Supreme Court has decided a forty-three criminal cases from Division Seven of the Second District, reversing in 65.12%.  Most of those cases fell during the second decade of our study period – the Court decided twelve cases in the nineties (reversing in seven) and twenty-seven cases between 2000 and 2009 (reversing in nineteen), but only four cases from 2010 through last year (reversing in two).

Since Division Eight of the Second District was created in 2000, the Supreme Court has decided seventeen criminal cases from that court, reversing in 52.94%.  The first two criminal cases arising from Division Eight were decided by the Supreme Court in 2005.  From 2005 to 2009, the Court decided six cases, reversing in four.  From 2010 through 2017, the Court has decided eleven cases, reversing in only five.

Because the Supreme Court has decided far more cases from the remaining Districts than from each individual Division of the First and Second District, we return to our usual method of studying reversal rates, using a floating three-year average.  Since 1990, the Court has decided exactly 100 criminal cases from the Third District, reversing in 52%.

The Third’s reversal rate began at a quite high level, reaching 85.71% in 1993, 83.33% in 1994 and 85.71% in 1995, before settling down to only 33.33% in 1997 and 1999.  Between 2000 and 2009, the court’s reversal rate tended to be around average or slightly above; the low was in 2003 at 37.5%, and the high was at 72.73% in 2007.  The years 2010 through 2015, however, the court’s reversal rate was consistently below average – 38.1% in 2010, 41.18% in 2011, 40% in 2012, 46.67% in 2013, 40% in 2014 and 50% in 2015.  The rate has ticked up further in the past two years, to 62.5% in 2016 and 71.43% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided one hundred criminal cases from Division One of the Fourth District, reversing in 59%.  The reversal rate was fairly close to that long-term average for the first half of the nineties, before dropping between 1996 and 1998, bottoming out at only 28.57%.  After a one year correction in 1999, the rate fell again to 37.5% in 2000, 33.33% in 2001 and 42.86% in 2002.  Between 2003 and 2011, Division One’s reversal rate was relatively close to the long-term average.  The rate then spiked for three years to 73.68% in 2012, 81.25% in 2013 and 80% in 2014.  In the three years since, the numbers have settled down again: 66.67% in 2015, 45.45% in 2016, and 61.54% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided sixty-seven criminal cases from Division Two of the Fourth District, reversing in 53.73%.  After several years in the early nineties close to that rate, the rate dropped sharply from 1998 to 2007, including 1999 at 37.5%, 2000 and 2003 at 33.33%, and 1998 at 28.57%.  Division Two’s reversal rate had dropped back to 33.33% by 2010, but it has been well above the long-term trend in recent years: 75% in 2013, 85.71% in 2015, 80% in 2016 and 81.82% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided 84 criminal cases from Division Three of the Fourth District since 1990, reversing in whole or in part in 70.24% of them.  But the court’s reversal rate was even higher through most of the nineties: 88.89% in 1992, 100% in 1993, 83.33% in 1994, 87.5% in 1997 and 1998 and 81.82% in 1999.  Between 2000 and 2006, the rate remained within five points or less of the long-term average.  The rate then declined from 2007 to 2011: 50% in 2007 and 2008, 42.86% in 2009, 57.14% in 2010 and 40% in 2011.  Since that time, the rate spiked once in 2014 to 87.5%, and has been declining over the past two years: 58.33% in 2016, 54.55% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided seventy-seven criminal cases from the Fifth District since 1990, reversing in 54.55%.  The Fifth District’s reversal rate started the nineties very low at only 14.29% before rising to above average for most of the rest of the decade, topping out at 83.33% in 1999.  The reversal rate was 80% in 200 and 75% in 2001 and 2002 but remained close to average until 2013.  From 2013 to 2017, the Supreme Court has decided only six criminal cases from the Fifth District, reversing in two.

The Supreme Court has decided sixty-nine criminal cases from the Sixth District since 1990, reversing in 64.04%.  The Sixth District’s rate started out well below that average through 1993, before rising to the trend number for most of the rest of the decade.  From 2000 to 2002, the rate was very low again: 37.5% in 2000, 27.27% in 2001 and 40% in 2002.  After a two-year spike to 83.33% in 2004 and 2005 and a one-year drop to 45.46% in 2009, the rate remained close to the average through 2012.  Since then, the Sixth District’s reversal rate has been consistently high: 77.78% in 2013, 81.82% in 2014, 90.91% in 2015, 90% in 2016 and 75% in 2017.

But the lowest reversal rate of all belongs to a special case – cases that rose to the Supreme Court directly from the Circuit Courts.  Given that nearly all of these cases are death penalty appeals, it’s not surprising to find that in 594 direct appeals from the trial courts since 1990, the Court has reversed in whole or in part in only 23.57%.  The reversal rate remained within ten points of that average throughout the nineties.  The rate dropped all the way to 8.33% in 2001, and was in the teens for six years from 2000 to 2009.  The reversal rate remained in the teens for four more years, from 2010 to 2013, but it has been rising since: 25.71% in 2014, 30% in 2015, 41.79% in 2016 and 38.18% in 2017.

Join us back here Thursday as we turn our attention to a related topic: average Supreme Court votes to affirm decisions from each District.

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

Which District or Division of the Court of Appeal Has Been Reversed Most Often in Criminal Cases Since 1990?

Earlier this week, we looked at the reversal rates of the various Districts and Divisions of the Court of Appeal in civil cases before the Supreme Court.  Today and tomorrow, we’re reviewing the data for the Court’s criminal docket.

But before we turn to the court-by-court numbers, let’s compare overall rates, both among the courts and to the civil rates.  In Table 667, we compare each court’s twenty-eight year reversal rate in criminal cases to its reversal rate during the same period in civil cases.  Several things seem noteworthy in this table. 

One might tentatively expect, given that a substantial majority of the criminal cases the Supreme Court hears involve a defendant petitioner, the reversal rates in criminal cases would likely be less than in civil cases.  And so they are in 14 of the 19 courts (three of the five exceptions are the three Divisions of San Diego’s Fourth District).  The distribution of the data suggests, however, that the difference shouldn’t be much.  Two courts have reversal rates over 70% on the civil side, and two on the criminal side.  Eleven courts have civil reversal rates over 60%, but only six do on the criminal side.  Seventeen courts have reversal rates over 50% on the civil side, and fifteen do on the criminal side.  All nineteen courts are over 40% in civil cases and eighteen of nineteen are on the criminal side.  For sixteen of the nineteen courts, the difference between civil and criminal reversal rates is less than ten points.  The highest reversal rate on the criminal side is Division Two of the First District at 70.37%.  Division Three of the Fourth is close behind at 70.24%.

But look at the bars for Divisions One and Four of the First District.  The reversal rate for civil cases in Division One was 53.49%.  But it was by far the lowest reversal rate in the state on the criminal side, at only 20% – a difference of 33.49%.  Division Four, on the other hand, narrowly had the highest reversal rate in the state for civil cases.   But its criminal rate was 29.14% lower at 42.86%.  Trying to explain that result will have to wait for another day.

On the criminal side, we’re treating the First and Second District a bit differently.  You’ll recall that when we were reviewing the civil side, we used three-year floating averages for the reversal rate in hopes of smoothing out what were purely random fluctuations because of the low number of cases handled by the Supreme Court in any given year.  But for the thirteen Divisions in the First and Second Districts, that method appears to break down.  The Supreme Court seldom hears even as many as four criminal cases a year from any Division.  In most years, the total number of cases decided per Division is between zero and two.  With comparatively few cases, even three-year averages take large swings from one year to the next.  So for these thirteen courts, we chart the reversals and total number of cases (rather than the reversal rate) for each year.

Overall, the Supreme Court has decided only fifteen criminal cases which we’ve definitively identified as coming from Division One, reversing in three.  Nearly half of these cases were in the nineties, with the Supreme Court reversing in only two of seven.  The Court has not reversed a criminal case from Division One since 2004, affirming in all six it’s decided since then.

The Court has decided twenty-seven criminal cases from Division Two, reversing in 70.37%.  The Supreme Court reversed six of seven cases it accepted in the nineties and all six it decided between 2003 and 2007.  Since 2012, the Court has reversed in only two of five cases.

The Supreme Court has decided twenty-five criminal cases from Division 3 since 1990, reversing in 44%.  The Court decided six cases between 1990 and 1997, reversing in five.  But between 1998 and 2004, the Court reversed only three of twelve decisions.  Since that time, the Court has reversed in three of seven cases.

The Supreme Court has decided twenty-eight criminal cases from Division Four of the First District since 1990, reversing in 42.86%.  Ten of those cases fell during the nineties, with the Court reversing in four.  Most of the remaining cases were decided between 2001 and 2010, when the Court decided fifteen cases from Division Four, reversing in seven.  But the Court has decided only three more cases since that time, reversing in one.

The Supreme Court has decided thirty-two criminal cases from Division Five, reversing in 59.38%.  Those cases are fairly evenly distributed over the period – eleven in the nineties, eleven between 2000 and 2009, and ten more from 2010 to last year.  The Court reversed in eight of eleven cases during the nineties, but only five of eleven from 2000 to 2009.  Since 2010, the Court has reversed in six of ten cases.

The Supreme Court has decided thirty-five cases from Division One of the Second District, reversing in 65.71%.  Between 1990 and 1999, the Court decided ten of those cases, reversing in seven.  The bulk of the cases – another twenty-six – were decided between 2000 and 2009.  The reversal rate for the decade was 46.15%.  Since that time, the Court has reversed in four of nine Division One cases.

The Supreme Court has decided twenty-one criminal cases from Division Two of the Second District, reversing in 42.86%.  Six of these cases were decided during the nineties, with the Court reversing in only two.  Twelve cases were decided between 2000 and 2009.  Division Two was reversed in half those cases.  Since 2010, the flow of cases from Division Two has slowed, with the Supreme Court deciding only three, reversing in one.

The Supreme Court has decided thirty-one criminal cases from Division Three of the Second District, reversing in 51.61%.  Only six of those cases were in the nineties, with the Supreme Court reversing in four.  The Court decided sixteen criminal cases from Division Three between 2000 and 2009, reversing in exactly half.  Since 2010, the Court has reversed in four of the nine criminal cases from Division Three.

The Supreme Court has decided thirty-six criminal cases from Division Four of the Second District since 1990, reversing in 52.78%.  Those cases are concentrated mostly in the middle decade of our study – there are six in the nineties, six between 2010 and 2017, but twenty-four between 2000 and 2009.  The Supreme Court reversed only one of the six cases in the nineties.  Between 2000 and 2009, the Supreme Court reversed just over half the time – thirteen of the twenty-four cases.  Since 2010, the Supreme Court has reversed five of six criminal cases from Division Four.

Finally, the Court decided thirty-six criminal cases which came from Division Five of the Second District, reversing in 58.33%.  In the nineties and again between 2000 and 2009, the Court decided eleven cases from Division Five, reversing in seven.  The pace has picked up considerably since 2010, with the Court deciding fourteen cases from Division Five in only eight years, with the Supreme Court reversing in half.

Join us back here tomorrow as we complete our review of the District-by-District reversal rates in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jan Arendtsz (no changes).

Which District of the Court of Appeal Had the Highest Reversal Rate in Civil Cases Since 1990 (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we began our court-by-court review of the three-year floating reversal rates of every District and Division of the Court of Appeal in civil cases decided by the Supreme Court.  Today, we’re concluding that project with Divisions 5-8 of the Second District and the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Districts.

From 1990 to 2017, the Supreme Court reversed in whole or in part in 64.86% of the seventy-four civil cases it decided from Division Five of the Second District.  Like many Districts, the court’s reversal rate a the beginning of the period – 100% for 1990-1992.  After falling to two-thirds in 1993, it fell further to 50% in 1994 and only 37.5% in 1995.  After two years around the long-term trend value, it had a one-year spike to 77.78% in 1998 and another to 78.57% in 2007 and 75% in 2009.  Otherwise, the court’s reversal rate was reasonably close to average each year.  The rate was unusually low in 2010 (50%) but then rose to 87.5% in 2012 and 100% in 2013.  Division Five’s reversal rate has been close to average ever since.

The Court reversed in 68.18% of the 44 civil cases it heard from Division Six of the Second District.  The rate was a bit low in 1992 and 1994 – 57.14% – but rose to 85.71% by 1997 and 83.33% in 1999.  Division Six fell to only 40% in 2000, 50% in 2001, 42.86% in 2002 and 50% in 2003, 2004 and 2005.  After several years around the long-term average, all six civil cases decided from Division Six since 2011 has been reversed in whole or in part.

Across the entire twenty-eight years, 62.9 of the 62 civil cases from Division Seven of the Second District were reversed in whole or in part.  The 90s began with the reversal rate from Division Seven quite low – 44.44% in 1992, 37.5% in 1993, before rising to near average and then past – 77.78% in 1996 and 83.33% in 1997.  After three years well below average from 1999 to 2001 (40%, 44.44% and 50%), the reversal rate stayed high from 2002 to 2006.  Things have seesawed ever since – a three year dip 2007-2009, reaching a low of 33.33% in 2009; a three-year upswing 2011-2013, reaching a high of 100% in 2012 and another dip from 2014 to 2016 (actually, the Court has heard only seven civil cases from Division Seven since 2012, reversing in two).

Table 660 is truncated since Division Eight of the Second is the newest Division.  Since the first case from Division Eight was decided in 2004, the Supreme Court has decided twenty-three civil cases from Division Eight, reversing in 56.52%.  Since that time, Division Eight’s three-year floating average reversal rate has been fairly steady around that overall average with only two exceptions – a dip from 2006 to 2009, including lows of 33.33% in 2006 and 2007, and a spike from 2010 to 2012, including 66.67% in 2010, 71.43% in 2011 and 100% in 2012.

Since 1990, the Supreme Court has decided one hundred ten civil cases from the Third District, reversing in 68.18% of them.  The court’s three-year average reversal rate was comparatively steady from 1992 through 2009, dipping only to 54.55% in 1993 and 1996 and 55% in 2009.  From 2011 to 2015, the reversal rate was on the upswing – 88.89% in 2011, 100% each year from 2012 to 2014 and 80% in 2015.  It corrected a bit to 66.67% in 2016 and 57.14% last year.

The Supreme Court has decided eighty-seven civil cases from Division One of San Diego’s Fourth District since 1990, reversing in 49.43%.  As was true in many Districts, the rate started out unusually high during the early 1990s; the three-year average was 72.73% in 1992 and 64.29% in 1993.  After a few years around the long-term average, the reversal rate dropped to quite low levels from 1998 to 2006 – bottoming out at 25% in 2000 and 2002 and 27.27% in 2004.  The court’s civil reversal rate then moved upwards, exceeding the long-term average by more than ten points every year but one from 2008 to 2015.  The highest rate during those years was 83.33% in 2013.  In the two years since, the reversal rate has settled back down: 40% in 2016 and 36.36% in 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided sixty-seven civil cases from Division Two of the Fourth’s District, reversing in slightly more than half – 50.75%.  During the 1990s, the court’s reversal rate remained relatively close to its average, excepting only 1993 and 1997, when it rose to 75%.  The rate fell to 37.5% in 2001, 36.36% in 2002, 25% in 2003 and 20% in 2004, but rose back to average until 2009.  Since that time, the rate has been relatively volatile – 62.5% in 2009, 75% in 2010, 100% in 2011; a two year drop in 2013 (25%) and 2014 (0%); and another increase in 2016 and 2017 (83.33% both years).

Since 1990, the Supreme Court has decided seventy-two civil cases from Division Three of the Fourth District, reversing in 63.89%.  Division Three’s rate was comparatively high for much of the nineties – 78.57% in 1995, 80% in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and 75% in 2000.  After several years close to the long-term average, the rate fell to only 25% in 2008, 12.5% in 2009, 25% in 2010 and 44.44% in 2011.  After a three year spike to 87.5% in 2012 and 100% in 2013 and 2014, Division Three’s reversal rate settled down to two-thirds in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The Supreme Court has decided forty-nine civil cases from the Fifth District since 1990, reversing in 63.27%.  The rate was unusually high in the mid-nineties at 77.78% in 1993, 100% in 1994 and 88.89% in 1995, but then trended down, reaching 42.86% in 1997 and 1999.  The rate dropped to half in 2003 and 2004, but drifted up to 83.33% in 2008, 75% in 2009 and 100% in 2010 and 2012.  The court’s reversal rate has generally been well-below its long term trend in the years since – 50% in 2013, 2016 and 2017 and 40% in 2015.

Finally, we come to the Sixth District.  The Supreme Court has decided sixty-four civil cases from the Sixth since 1990, reversing in 71.88%.  As seen from the Table below, the Sixth District’s civil reversal rate has been subject to as much volatility as any District in the state.  For the first half of the nineties, it was extremely high: 100% in 1992, 90.91% in 1993 and 92.31% in 1994.  From 1997 to 2001, the rate was unusually low: 40% in 1997, one-third in 1998, 42.86% in 1999 and half in 2000 and 2001.  The reversal rate than jumped to 100% by 2003, and stayed there until 2006, before dropping slightly to 83.33% the next year.  The reversal rate was fairly steady from 2009 to 2013, but then, after a one-year spike to 80% in 2014, dropped sharply once again: 50% in 2015, zero in 2016 and one-third in 2017.

Join us back here later this week as we turn our attention back to the Court’s criminal docket.

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

 

Which District of the Court of Appeal Had the Highest Reversal Rate in Civil Cases Since 1990 (Part 1)?

This week, we’re taking a close look at the reversal rates of the various Districts and Divisions of the Court of Appeal in civil cases.  As always, we’re defining “criminal” cases in the data as criminal prosecutions, quasi-criminal actions (habeas corpus), juvenile and mental health cases that arise out of alleged criminal activity, and attorney disciplinary cases.  Civil cases are everything else.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that notwithstanding the fact that intermediate appellate reversal rates are probably the analytic data point most widely quoted in the media, it’s also subject to misconstruction when – as often happens – someone suggests that a high reversal rate necessarily reflects badly on an appellate court.  For every one of the courts we’re about to review, anywhere from ninety to ninety-five percent of the petitions for review from their cases were denied by the Supreme Court.  Cases which the Supreme Court takes aren’t a random grouping; quite the contrary.  So it’s equally valid to say that of all a lower court’s cases that someone tries to take to the Supreme Court, the “true” reversal rate is nearly always in the single digits.

But first, let’s look at a composite number.  Between 1990 and the end of 2017, the Supreme Court decided 1,223 civil cases.  In Table 646 below, we report the overall reversal rate for every District and, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, every Division.  The District reversed most often in civil cases was, by a narrow margin, Division Four of the First – 72%.  One other District was over 70% (the Sixth), nine courts were in the sixties, five in the fifties, and two were in the forties – Division One of the Fourth at 49.43%, and Division Three of the First at 48.72%.

Now we turn to the year-by-year numbers for the individual courts.  The problem with this exercise the way it’s usually done is one gets large swings in the data which in fact are random (the nature of the cases that happened to come ripe for decision in a particular year) or a function of a low caseload from that court in that year (one year the Supreme Court reverses three of four, the next two of four – a minimal difference but a 25% swing if you focus on one year numbers.  So, we’re using three year floating averages.  Thus, the reversal rate shown in the Table below labelled “1992” is for all the cases from Division One of the First District decided in 1990, 1991 and 1992.  For the next year, we drop 1990 and add the data for 1993, and so on.

Between 1990 and 2017, 53.49% of the civil cases from Division One of the First District were reversed in whole or in part.  For most of the 1990s, the yearly rate was right around the long-term average, leaving aside a one-year spike in 1993.  Beginning in 1999, far fewer cases were being reversed – 25% in 1999, 20% in 2000 and 25% in 2001.  After several more years around average, the rate abruptly increased beginning in 2007 to 66.67%, 100% in 2008 and 80% in 2009.  In 2009, 2013 and 2014, the Court heard only one case from Division One, and all three were affirmed (the high reversal rate for 2009 comes from 2008 and 2007 cases in the three-year average).  The Court heard no cases from Division One in 2011 or 2012.  The Court decided one case per year from Division One in 2015, 2016 and 2017, reversing in whole or in part in each.

Division Two of the First District was right in the middle of the pack, with 60.78% of its civil decisions reversed in whole or in part.  In about half of the 90s, the court’s three-year average was relatively close to that number, only diverging significantly in 1992 (77.78%) and 1995-96 (28.57% and 37.5%, respectively).  The rate was still at trend in 2000 (63.64%) and 2001 (66.67%), before having three straight good years in 2002-2004.

From 2006 to 2009, Division Two’s civil reversal rate was unusually high – 80% in 2006 and 100% for each year 2007-2009.  The rate dropped gradually after that, to 75% in 2010, 60% in 2011 and 50% in 2012.  Since 2010, the Court has decided only four civil cases from Division Two – one each in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 – and affirmed them all.

As we mentioned above, only 48.72% of the 39 civil cases the Court has heard from Division Three of the First District since 1990 have been reversed in whole or in part.  The yearly average was almost exactly that from 1990 to 1995 before dipping each of the next three years – 37.5% in 1996, 28.57% in 1997, 16.67% in 1998.  After a three-year return to trend, the rate dipped again for two years at 25% before reaching 100% in 2005 and 66.67% in 2006.  The Court heard only one civil case from Division Three in 2012-2014.  Beginning in 2015, the Court has heard three civil cases from Division Three, reversing in whole or in part in all three.

That brings us to Division Four of the First District, which had an overall civil reversal rate of 72%.  The court had a tough four year stretch in the early 90s, with a three-year rate of 100% in 1993, 1994 and 1995, 90.91% in 1996 and 90% in 1997.  After dropping well below trend for three years, bottoming out at 33.33% in 2000, the reversal rate returned to 100% in 2001 and 2001.  After a few years around the 72% trend rate, Division Four had another three good years, with a rate of 33.33% in 2009, 50% in 2010 and 57.14% in 2011.  But since 2013, the Court has decided five civil cases from Division Four, reversing in whole or in part in all five.

The twenty-eight year reversal rate in civil cases for Division Five of the First District is 60.98%.  For most of the years between 1990 and 1998, the court was well above that – 100% in 1992, 71.43% in 1995, 85.71% in 1996 and 1997 and 75% in 1998.  After a three year dip from 1999 to 2001, when the Supreme Court heard only three civil cases from Division Five, the reversal rate peaked again at 80% in 2003 and 85.71% in 2004.  Aside from a final dip from 2006-2008 (36.36%, 30% and 42.86%, respectively) and brief peaks in 2013 and 2017, when the court’s reversal rate reached 100%, the yearly rates have been fairly close to the long-term trend every year.

We turn next to southern California’s Second District.  For the entire period, the Court has decided 73 cases arising from Division One of the Second, and reversed in whole or in part in 68.49%.  After starting out at 80% reversal for the years 1990-1992, the court was generally close to its long-term average from 1993 to 2002.  The rate jumped to 87.5% in 2003 and was 80% in 2007, but dropped well below average from 2008 to 2010 (40%, 33.33%, 33.33%, respectively).  The court’s reversal rate jumped again above average in 2016, when it was 80%, and 2017, when it rose slightly to 81.82%.

Between 1990 and 2017, the Court decided 41 civil cases from Division Two of the Second District, reversing in whole or in part in 56.09% of them.  The Court’s reversal rate was quite high for the first half of the nineties – 100% in 1992 and 80% in 1993 and 1994 – before dropping to 33.33% in 1995.  The rate was remarkably stable between 1996 and 2006, rising well beyond the trend number only in 2000 (75%).   The Supreme Court has heard only nine civil cases from Division Two since 2009, and none at all in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

The Supreme Court decided eighty-eight civil cases from Division Three of the Second District (more than double the number from Division Two), affirming in 56.82%.   The rate had a two-year spike in 1993 and 1994 (77.7% and 87.5%, respectively) before dropping to 25% in 1996 and 33.33% in 1997.  After several years around the long-term trend, the rate dropped to 46.15% in 2005 and 36.36% in 2006.  There was another increase a few years later: the rate was 75% in 2008, 81.82% in 2009, 70% in 2011 and 71.43% in 2013, before a two-year correction to 42.86% in 2014 and 2015.  Last year, 54.55% of the Division Three civil cases decided by the Court were reversed in whole or in part.

The Court decided sixty-two civil cases from Division Four of the Second District between 1990 and 2017, reversing in whole or in part in 67.74% of them.  The court’s reversal rate was well below that for the first half of the nineties – fifty percent in 1992 and 1993, zero in 1994, forty percent in 1995 and fifty percent in 1996.  By 2002, the rate had risen to 80%, and hit 88.89% the following year.  The rate was high between 2010 and 2013 – 100% in 2010 and 2011, 83.33% in 2012 and 85.71% in 2013.  Since that time, Division Four’s reversal rate has been fairly close to its twenty-eight year trend each year.

Join us next time as we address the reversal rate in the rest of the state.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Joshua Tree National Park (no changes).

How Was Dissent Distributed in Criminal Cases?

This week, we’re following up last week’s posts by taking a closer look at how dissent was distributed at the Court between one, two and three dissenter cases.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal docket.  For the years 1990 to 2017, 11.32% of the Court’s 1,590 criminal cases had one dissenter, 11.89% had two and 6.48% had three.

One and two dissenter cases were above the trend average for the years 1990 to 1996.  Three of the seven years, three dissenter cases were above the average as well.  One dissenter cases were 5% of the criminal docket in 1990, 13.43% in 1991, 13.79% in 1992, 30% in 1993, 26.83% in 1994, 16.33% in 1995 and 19.05% in 1996.  Two dissenter cases were 20% of the criminal docket in 1990, 19.4% in 1991, 25.86% in 1992, 30% in 1993, 19.51% in 1994, 14.29% in 1995 and 16.67% in 1996.  Three dissenter cases were 5% of the criminal docket in 1990, 13.43% in 1991, 2% in 1993, 14.63% in 1994, 10.2% in 1995 and 2.38% in 1996.  There were no three dissenter criminal cases in 1992.

Dissent was down a bit in criminal cases from 1997 to 2003.  In five of the seven years, one and three dissenter cases were above the long term trend average, while two dissenter cases were above the average in three of the seven years.

One dissenter cases were 20.45% of the docket in 1997, 15.56% in 1998, 12.5% in 1999, 3.64% in 2000, 5.17% in 2001, and then up to 15.49% in 2002 and 19.05% in 2003.  Two dissenter cases were 4.55% of the criminal docket in 1997, 13.33% in 1998, 14.58% in 1999, 18.18% in 2000, 8.62% in 2001, 8.45% in 2002 and 6.35% in 2003.  Three dissenter cases were 20.45% of the docket in 1997, 15.56% in 1998, 14.58% in 1999, 9.09% in 2000, 3.45% in 2001, 11.27% in 2002 and 6.35% of the criminal docket in 2003.

Dissent continued to decline in criminal cases from 2004 to 2010.  In four of those seven years, one dissenter cases were above the trend average, but two and three dissenter cases were only above-average in three of seven years.  One dissenter cases were 13.7% of the criminal docket in 2004, 8.2% in 2005, 15.09% in 2006, 11.48% in 2007, 3.03% in 2008, 11.48% in 2009 and 2.74% in 2010.  Two dissenter cases were 1.37% of the criminal docket in 2004, 13.11% in 2005, 13.21% in 2006, 3.28% in 2007, 7.58% in 2008, 6.56% in 2009 and 13.7% in 2010.  Three dissenter cases were 6.85% of the criminal docket in 2004, 8.2% in 2005, 13.21% in 2006, 1.52% in 2008, 1.64% in 2009 and 2.74% in 2010.  There were no three dissenter criminal cases in 2007.

Just as was the case in civil cases, dissent has been below the long-term trend level in criminal cases since 2011.  Across the last seven years, one dissenter cases haven’t been above average a single time, two dissenter cases have been above average twice and three dissenter cases have been above average in three of seven years.

One dissenter cases were 9.8% of the criminal docket in 2011, 6.49% in 2012, 8% in 2013, 5.45% in 2014, 6.82% in 2015, 3.85% in 2016 and 9.52% in 2017.  Two dissenter cases were 15.69% in 2011, 5.19% in 2012, 10% in 2013, 3.64% in 2014, 11.36% in 2015, 1.92% in 2016 and 14.29% in 2017.  Three dissenter cases were 1.96% of the criminal docket in 2011, 7.79% in 2012, 7.28% in 2014, 4.55% in 2015, 1.92% in 2016 and 9.52% in 2017.  There were no three dissenter criminal cases in 2013.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Doug Kerr (no changes).

How Was Dissent Distributed in Civil Cases?

Last week, we reviewed the year by year data, tracing the changes in the Court’s unanimity rate between 1990 and 2017.  But of course, that leaves out an important variable – a 6-1 decision tells us something very different from a 4-3 decision.  So how was the Court’s dissent distributed across one, two and three dissenter cases?  For the entire twenty-eight years, 16.27% of the Court’s 1,223 civil cases had one dissenter, 11.77% had two and 11.69% had three dissenters.

For most of the period between 1990 and 1996, all three types of dissent were ahead of the long-term trend.  One dissenter cases were 28.21% of the civil docket in 1990, 17.5% in 1991, 23.08% in 1992, 32.61% in 1993, 27.45% in 1994, 22.81% in 1995 and 20% in 1996.  Two dissenter cases were 10.26% in 1990, 30% in 1991, 17.31% in 1992, 10.87% in 1993, 15.69% in 1994 and 19.3% in 1995.  The Court had no two-dissenter civil cases in 1996.  Three dissenter cases were 20.51% of the civil docket in 1990, 7.5% in 1991, 15.38% in 1992, 15.22% in 1993, 11.76% in 1994, 10.53% in 1995 and 23.33% in 1996.

Dissent was down just a bit in civil cases between 1997 and 2003.  One dissenter cases were over the long-term average for four of the seven years, two dissenter cases were above average for five of the seven years, and three dissenter cases were above trend for four of seven years.  One dissenter cases were 24% of the civil docket in 1997, 25.93% in 1998, 7.69% in 1999, 22.45% in 2000, 14.58% in 2001, 20.83% in 2002 and 9.09% in 2003.  Two dissenter cases were 16% in 1997, 18.52% in 1998, 25% in 1999, 12.24% in 2000, 20.83% in 2001, 10.42% in 2002 and 13.64% in 2003.  Three dissenter cases were 24% of the civil docket in 1997, 9.26% in 1998, 13.46% in 1999, 16.33% in 2000, 8.33% in 2001 and 2002 and 15.91% in 2003.

Dissent fell sharply during the years 2004 to 2010.  Three dissenter cases were over the long-term trend in three of the seven years, but one and two dissenter cases never were.  One dissenter cases were 15.09% of the docket in 2004, 7.84% in 2005, 13.21% in 2006, 10.71% in 2007, 5% in 2008, 9.09% in 2009 and 7.14% in 2010.  Two dissenter cases were 3.77% in 2004, 7.84% in 2005, 3.77% in 2006, 8.93% in 2007, 7.5% in 2008, 4.55% in 2009 and 2.38% in 2010.  Three dissenter cases were 18.87% of the civil docket in 2004, 5.88% in 2005, 9.43% in 2006, 19.64% in 2007, 10% in 2008, 2.27% in 2009 and 11.9% in 2010.

Dissent has been well below the long-term average for nearly all of the years 2011 to 2017 – one and two dissenter cases were above average only once, and three dissenter cases have never been. One dissenter cases were 18.18% of the civil docket in 2011, 15.38% in 2012, 9.38% in 2013, 8.7% in 2014, 6.25% in 2015, 11.11% in 2016 and 9.52% in 2017.  Two dissenter cases were 3.03% in 2011, 11.54% in 2012, 6.25% in 2013, 13.04% in 2014, 6.25% in 2015, 11.11% in 2016 and 7.14% in 2017.  Three dissenter cases were 3.03% of the civil docket in 2011, 6.25% in 2013, 8.7% in 2014, 11.11% in 2016 and 7.14% in 2017.  There were no three dissenter cases in 2012 or 2015.

Join us back here tomorrow as we take a closer look at dissent in the criminal docket – and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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

How Has the Court’s Unanimity Rate in Criminal Cases Changed Over Time?

Yesterday, we took a look at the Court’s unanimity rate in civil cases (60.18% in 1,223 cases).  Today, we’re looking at the criminal docket.  From 1990 to 2017, the Court decided 1,590 criminal, quasi-criminal, juvenile and disciplinary cases, with a unanimity rate ten points higher than on the civil side – 70.25%.

Just as was true in the civil docket, for the years 1990-1996, the criminal unanimity rate was below the long-term average – sometimes by a little, others by a lot.  The rate was 68.75% in 1990, 61.19% in 1991, 60.34% in 1992, dropped to 38% in 1993, 39.02% in 1994, 59.18% in 1995 and 61.9% in 1996.

The yearly numbers got above the long-term average in only one of the years between 1997 and 2003: 54.55% in 1997, 55.56% in 1998, 58.33% in 1999, 69.09% in 2000, 82.76% in 2001, 64.79% in 2002 and 68.25% in 2003.

But in 2004, things changed.  For 2004, the unanimity rate was 78.08%.  In 2005, it was 70.49%.  After a one-year dip in 2006 to 58.49%, it was above-average for the four years following: 85.25% in 2007, 87.88% in 2008, 80.33% in 2009 and 80.82% in 2010.

Yesterday, we showed that the Court has consistently been unanimous in an above-average percentage of civil cases during Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s tenure.  With the exception of last year, that’s been true on the criminal side too: 72.55% in 2011, 79.22% in 2012, 82% in 2013, 83.64% in 2014, 77.27% in 2015, 92.31% in 2016 and two-thirds last year.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bernard Spragg (no changes).

How Has the Court’s Unanimity Rate in Civil Cases Changed Over Time?

This week, we’re turning our attention to a new issue, tracing how the Court’s unanimity rate has changed over time.  Between 1990 and 2017, the Court decided 1,223 civil cases, 60.18% of those by a unanimous vote.

From 1990 to 1996, the Court’s unanimity rate in civil cases was consistently below this long-term average: 41.03% in 1990, 45% in 1991, 44.23% in 1992, 41.3% in 1993, 45.1% in 1994, 47.37% in 1995 and 56.67% in 1996.

That trend continued up until 2001 – 36% in 1997, 46.3% in 1998, 53.85% in 1999, 48.98% in 2000.  For the three years after that, the unanimity rate was close to the long-term average: 56.25% in 2001, 60.42% in 2002, 61.36% in 2003.

For most of the period from 2004 to 2010, the Court’s unanimity rate was above the long-term average – 62.26% in 2004, 78.43% in 2005, 73.58% in 2006, a one-year dip to 58.93% in 2007, then 77.5% in 2008, 84.09% in 2009 and 78.57% in 2010.

The unanimity rate in civil cases has stayed consistently above the trend during Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s tenure: 75.76% in 2011, 73.08% in 2012, 78.13% in 2013, 69.57% in 2014, 87.5% in 2015, 66.67% in 2016 and 76.19% in 2017.

Join us back here tomorrow as we look at the unanimity rate in criminal cases.

Image courtesy of Flickr by MoonJazz (no changes).

How Do the Illinois and California Supreme Courts’ Criminal Dockets Compare (Part 2)?

Yesterday, we began our comparison of the Illinois and California Supreme Courts’ criminal dockets for the past twenty-eight years.  We covered the years 1990 through 2003.  Today, we’re looking at the years 2004 to 2017.

From 1990 to 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court wrote more criminal decisions than the California Supreme Court did.  Since that time, the numbers have flipped.  Between 2004 and 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court handed down 353 criminal decisions, while the California Supreme Court published 441. 

In Table 622, we review the Illinois Supreme Court’s criminal cases from 2004 to 2010.  With the death  penalty docket almost entirely wound down, the leading issue on the Court’s criminal docket was criminal procedure (98 cases), followed by constitutional law (91), habeas corpus (48), sentencing law (28) and juvenile issues (23).

Between 2004 and 2010, the top issue on the California Supreme Court’s criminal docket was, as usual, death penalty appeals – 162 cases.  Following that was criminal procedure (69), sentencing law (51), constitutional law (47) and habeas corpus (34).

In Illinois, criminal procedure was up sharply as a share of the docket, from 15.45% in 1997-2003 to 27.77% in 2004-2010.  Constitutional law was essentially flat during these years, rising only from 24.68% of the docket to 25.78%.  Habeas corpus was down significantly, falling from 19.96% of the docket to 13.6%.  Sentencing law was down somewhat, from 8.58% to 7.93%.  Juvenile issues were up slightly, from 5.79% of the docket to 6.52%.   Among the less common areas of law, attorney disciplinary cases fell from 2.15% to 1.13%.  Death penalty cases were down sharply, from 15.24% of the docket to only 4.53%.  Sexual offenses were up from 1.93% to 3.97%.  Mental health issues rose from 0.64% to 1.42%.  Drug offenses doubled, from 0.64% to 1.42% of the docket.

Death penalty cases were sharply up as a share of the docket in California, from 24.2% of the docket from 1997 to 2003 to 36.73% from 2004 to 2010.  Criminal procedure was down several points, from 21.54% to 15.65%.  Sentencing law was fairly flat, from 12.77% to 11.56%.  Constitutional law was down slightly too – from 11.97% of the docket in 1997-2003 to 10.66 from 2004-2010.  Habeas corpus cases were up significantly, from 5.05% to 7.71%.  Among the less common areas of law on the Court’s criminal docket, cases involving sexual offenses were down substantially, from 4.25% of the docket to 1.81%.  Cases involving property crimes were down from 3.99% to 1.59%, as were attorney disciplinary cases – 2.66% to 0.68%.

Finally, we reach the years 2011 to 2017.  Once again, the California Supreme Court was much more active in criminal cases – 368 in California to 252 in Illinois.  The five most common issues on the Illinois Supreme Court’s criminal docket were the same, but with issues 3, 4 and 5 swapping places.  The Court decided 66 criminal procedure cases, 62 constitutional law cases, 31 sentencing law cases, 24 cases involving juvenile issues, and 22 habeas corpus cases.

The caseload in California shifted somewhat.  Death penalty appeals dominated, accounting for 144 cases for the seven years.  Criminal procedure was next (54), then sentencing (46), constitutional law (31) and violent crimes (23).

Criminal procedure was down slightly in Illinois, from 27.77% of the docket in 2004-2010 to 26.19% for 2011-2017.  Constitutional law was down a bit too, from 25.78% to 24.6%.  Sentencing law was up significantly, from 7.93% in 2004-2010 to 12.3% for 2011-2017.  Juvenile issues rose too, from 6.52% to 9.52%.  Habeas cases were down, falling from 13.6% of the docket to 8.73%.  Among the lesser players, death penalty appeals left the docket with statewide abolition from 4.53% for 2004-2010 to zero in the past seven years.  Property crimes doubled, from 1.13% to 2.38%.  Sexual offenses were up about fifty percent, from 3.97% to 5.56%.

Turning back to California, we find that death penalty appeals were only slightly up over the past seven years, from 36.73% of the docket in 2004-2010 to 39.13% in 2011-2017.  Criminal procedure cases actually fell a bit, from 15.65% to 14.67%.  Sentencing law was virtually flat, from 11.56% to 12.5%.  Constitutional law was down a bit, from 10.66% to 8.42%.  Among the less common areas of law, habeas corpus cases were down substantially, from 7.71% of the docket to 3.8%.  Sexual offense cases rose from 1.81% to 3.8%.  Political offenses and driving offenses were both up significantly, but both remained very small pieces of the Court’s docket (0.23% to 1.09% political offenses, 0.23% to 0.54% driving offenses.

Join us next Tuesday at the Illinois Supreme Court Review, and here on Thursday as we turn our attention to a new subject.  And if you’d like to check out the three previous parts of our cross-over post, see below and at ISCR.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ed Bierman (no changes).

How Do the Illinois and California Supreme Court’s Criminal Dockets Compare (Part 1)?

Earlier this week, we began a multi-day crossover post at the Illinois Supreme Court Review, comparing the dockets of the Illinois and California Supreme Courts for the past twenty-eight years (1990-2017), and tracing how those Courts’ caseloads have evolved over that period.  In our first two posts, we addressed the Courts’ civil caseloads.  In this post and tomorrow, we’ll be addressing the Courts’ criminal dockets.

We begin with the Illinois Supreme Court, 1990-1996.  Given that the Illinois Supreme Court outpaced the California Supreme Court in civil decisions for the period, it might be logical to expect that the California Supreme Court was more active in criminal cases.  But it was not – the Illinois Supreme Court handed down 461 decisions, while the California Supreme Court handed down 386.  The leading area of law on the Court’s criminal docket was the death penalty in these pre-repeal days (119 cases), followed by constitutional law (96), criminal procedure (78), habeas corpus (61) and sentencing law (30).

The California Supreme Court’s docket was skewed during these years.  Before 1992, the court was still issuing full-blown opinions in a great many attorney disciplinary and admissions cases (regular readers of this blog will have noticed that we define this half of the docket as criminal, quasi-criminal, juvenile and attorney discipline cases).  The Court decided sixty-three attorney disciplinary cases in 1990 and 1991 alone – the most common subject in 1990’s criminal docket, and the second most common in 1991.  After that, the Court virtually stopped issuing such opinions, disposing of most disciplinary cases in unpublished orders.  For the entire seven years, the most common subject on the court’s docket was the death penalty (129 cases), followed by attorney discipline (67), criminal procedure (64), sentencing (32), constitutional law (25) and habeas corpus (24).  So the top five most common areas of criminal law in the Illinois Supreme Court’s docket for these years occupy five of the top six slots in California.

Across these first seven years, death penalty cases accounted for 25.81% of the Illinois Supreme Court’s criminal docket, followed by constitutional law (20.82%), criminal procedure (16.92%), habeas corpus (13.23%) and sentencing law (6.51%).  Attorney disciplinary cases, the second most common item on the California Supreme Court’s docket, were sixth in Illinois at 5.21% of the docket.

In California during these years, the death penalty represented slightly over one-third of the criminal docket – 33.42%.  Attorney discipline cases were next, almost entirely on the strength of their predominance in 1990 and 1991 – 17.36% of the docket for 1990-1996.  Following that were criminal procedure (16.58%), sentencing law (8.29%), constitutional law (6.48%) and habeas corpus (6.22%).

For the years 1997 to 2003, the Illinois Supreme Court once again outpaced the California Supreme Court on the criminal side, 466 decisions to 376.  The docket shifted emphasis as the state began its glide path to death penalty abolition.  For these years, constitutional law was the most common criminal law subject (115 cases), followed by habeas corpus (93), criminal procedure (72), the death penalty (71) and sentencing law (40).

There were changes in the top five in California too.  Once again, the death penalty was the most common subject, with ninety-one cases.  But criminal procedure was close behind, accounting for 81 cases.  After that came sentencing law (48), constitutional law (45) and violent crimes (28).

Overall in Illinois, constitutional law was up only slightly, from 20.82% of the docket for 1990-1996 to 24.68% in 1997-2003.  Habeas corpus was up sharply, from 13.23% to 19.96%.  Criminal procedure was down slightly, from 16.92% to 15.45%.  Of course, the death penalty was way down as a share of the docket, from 25.81% to 15.24%.  Sentencing law was up a bit, from 6.51% to 8.58%.  Among the less common areas of law, attorney disciplinary cases fell from 5.21% of the docket to only 2.15%.  Property crimes fell from 1.3% to 0.64%.  Sexual offenses accounted for a larger share, from 0.65% to 1.93%.  Juvenile offenses were way up too, from 1.3% to 5.79%.

For the years 1997-2003, death penalty cases fell as a share of the California Supreme Court’s criminal docket, from 33.42% to 24.2%.  Although criminal procedure was right behind in absolute numbers, it actually was down a bit as a share of the docket, from 16.92% to 15.45%.  Sentencing law cases rose from 6.51% to 8.58% of the criminal docket, while constitutional law rose from 6.48% to 11.97%.  Violent crimes cases increased their share of the docket from 3.63% to 7.45%.  Most of the lesser areas of law on the docket were relatively flat as a share of the total caseload with the exception of sexual offenses and property crimes, both of which significantly increased their share – sexual offenses went from 1.04% in 1990-1996 to 4.25% in 1997-2003, and property crimes cases shot up from 0.78% to 3.99%.  Attorney disciplinary cases fell from 17.36% of the docket to only 2.66% for 1997-2003.

Join us back here tomorrow as we conclude our four-part series comparing and contrasting the dockets of the Illinois and California Supreme Courts.

Image courtesy of Flickr by StantonTCady (no changes).

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