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).

 

Between 2000 and 2009, the California Supreme Court decided 617 criminal, quasi-criminal and juvenile justice cases.  Los Angeles County accounted for 188 of those cases.  Orange County was second, followed by San Diego, Santa Clara, Alameda, Riverside and Sacramento counties.

Twenty additional jurisdictions which produced more than one case apiece during these years are reported in Table 1501.  Only four jurisdictions produced one case apiece.

Join us back here next week as we review the data for civil and criminal cases between 2010 and 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by HarshLight (no changes).

 

Today, we’re reporting the originating jurisdictions for the Supreme Court between the years 2000 and 2009.  We omit Los Angeles County from the Table to make it more easily readable.  Los Angeles County accounted for 147 civil cases between 2000 and 2009.

San Francisco County was twelfth in population but second in criminal cases.  Next were the second and third most populous counties, San Diego and Orange, followed by Sacramento (the eighth most populous county).  San Bernardino County, the fifth biggest county by population, was sixth in the list.

Nineteen additional jurisdictions, set forth in Table 1499, accounted for more than one case.  Fifty jurisdictions produced one civil case each.

Join us back here next time as we review the criminal cases for the years 2000 through 2009.

Image courtesy of Flickr by California Bear (no changes).

 

In Table 1496, we report the jurisdictions where the Court’s criminal cases originated between 1990 and 1999.  Los Angeles County accounted for 111 cases.  The State Bar Court was next, followed by Orange County, the third most populous county in the state.  Santa Clara County, the sixth most populous county, was next followed by San Diego County, the second biggest county in the state.  Riverside County, the fourth most populous county in the state, was next.

All remaining jurisdictions which produced more than one case are reported in Table 1497.  Eight jurisdictions accounted for one case each.

Join us back here next week as we review the Court’s cases between 2000 and 2009.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Koshy Koshy (no changes).

This week, we’re reviewing the jurisdictions in which the Supreme Court’s civil and criminal dockets originated for the years 1990 through 1999.  As we said earlier on the Illinois Supreme Court Review, this is important for the same reason that tracking which Districts and Divisions of the Court of Appeal the Court is taking its cases from.  Just as it’s possible for the Court to conclude that a particular part of the Court of Appeal is out of step with its views, it’s equally possible for the Court to be concerned about a trial court or agency.  If the Supreme Court accepts cases from the jurisdiction where you are every year, that’s a good sign for the prospects of getting review.  On the other hand, if the Court seldom takes cases from your jurisdiction, that tells you something about the odds of going up.

From 1990 to 1999, the Court decided 126 civil cases which originated in Los Angeles County.  The next fifteen jurisdictions are reported below.  San Francisco is only the twelfth most populous county but was the second most common county on the Court’s docket.  San Diego County, the second most populous county in California, was third, followed by Orange County (3rd in population), Sacramento County (8th), Santa Clara County (6th) and Alameda County (7th).

The remainder of the data is reported in Table 1495 below.  Forty-nine jurisdictions accounted for one case each.

Join us back here next time as we address the Court’s criminal docket.

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