As shown in Table 1591, the percentage of the Court’s criminal docket accounted for by final judgments and death penalty appeals remained quite high throughout the years 2010-2020.  In 2010, 60.27% of the docket was either from final judgments or death cases.  That rose into the seventies from 2011 to 2013 before falling back a bit to 67.27% in 2014.  For 2015, 70.45% were final judgments or death cases.  The next year, it was even higher – 76.92%.  The share fell over the next two years, to 57.14% in 2017 and 58% in 2018, before rising to 65.85% in 2019 and 61.9% last year.

For the entire thirty-one-year period (1990-2020), the Court has decided 1,722 criminal, quasi-criminal, juvenile justice and mental health cases.  Five hundred eighty of those cases arose from final judgments and an additional 587 arose from death penalty cases.  So 33.68% of the docket arose from final judgments and 34.09% from death penalties – a total of 67.78%.

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by Vahe Martirosyan (no changes).

For the past two weeks, we’ve been comparing the data for appeals from final judgments to the Court’s total caseload, addressing the notion that the Court is reluctant to get involved in cases which have not yet reached final judgment.  This time, we’re looking at the civil docket for the years 2010 through 2020.

The final-judgments share was fairly consistent from 2010 through 2018, starting out at 52.38% in 2010, dipping into the mid-forties for two years and then reaching 53.13% in 2013 and 56.52% in 2014.  The number was up and down over the next few years – 46.88% in 2015, 52.78% in 2016, 42.86% in 2017 and 51.52% in 2018.  Over the past two years however, the share of the docket has dropped sharply.  In 2019, only 41.18% of the criminal docket was from final judgments.  In 2010, only 31.03% was.

Across the entire period from 1990 to 2020, the Court has decided 1,319 civil cases.  Of those, 735 arose from final judgments in the trial court – a share of only 55.72%.

Join us back here next time as we wind up this part of our study with the data for these same years in the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Loco Steve (no changes).

Between 2000 and 2009, the share of the Court’s criminal docket accounted for by non-death final judgments edged downwards, from 47.27% in 2000 and 55.17% in 2001 to 34.43% in 2005 and only 26.23% in 2007.

A large part of the reason for that was the increase in death penalty cases.  When we add the death penalty share of the docket to the final non-death cases, we reach 74.55% of the docket in 2000, 77.05% in 2005, 77.36% in 2006, 75.76% in 2008 and 72.13% in 2009.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for the years 2010 through 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by 12019 (no changes).

During the years 2000 through 2009, the percentage of the Supreme Court’s drifted down slightly.  The decade high came in 2000, when 75.51% of the Court’s civil cases were from final judgments.  That share fell seventeen points in 2001 before recovering a bit to 64.58% in 2002.  In 2004, 60.38% of the civil docket were final judgments.  By 2006, the share was down to 50.94%.  The share increased about ten points in the two years following before drifting back down to 52.27% in 2009.

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

Image courtesy of Pixabay by KimberlySook (no changes).

So what percentage of criminal cases arise from final judgments?  This time, we’re reviewing the data from the years 1990 through 1999.  Since a substantial fraction of the court’s criminal cases come from death penalty appeals, we include both final judgments and death penalty cases.

Between 1990 and 1992, the percentage of final judgments in criminal cases was surprisingly low – only 5% in 1990, 12.12% in 1991 and 18.97% in 1992.  After that, the number rose sharply to 64% in 1993, 53.66% in 1994, 30.61% in 1995, 38.1% in 1996, 40.91% in 1997, 48.89% in 1998 and 50% in 1999.

Adding in the death judgments makes an enormous difference in the data.  In 1990, the combined share – final judgments plus death cases – was 37.5% of the criminal docket.  By 1992, the number had risen to 75.86%.  In 1993, the share arose to 98%.  In 1994, the share was 70.73%.  The numbers fell a bit in 1995 and 1996 but rose to 72.73% in 1997 and 77.78% in 1998.  Final judgments plus death cases was 62.5% of the docket in 1999.

 

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

Image courtesy of Flickr by GPA Photo Archive (no changes).

We’ve all heard it any number of times: the appellate courts only review final judgments.  Even if you can figure out a theory to take a non-final judgment up, the appellate courts won’t decide it on the grounds that it isn’t necessary – let it percolate out, and maybe the case will settle, or the case may moot out another way.  But is it really true?

For the next three weeks, we’re reviewing the share of appeals accounted for by final judgments – first civil cases, one decade at a time, then criminal cases.

Throughout the decade of the 1990s, the percentage of civil cases accounted for by final judgments varied between 40 and 60%.  In 1990, 41.03% of civil cases were final judgment.  That rose into the sixties in 1991 and 1992, dropped to 52.17% in 1993 and rose back to two-thirds in 1994.  In 1996, the share fell to 46.67%.  It jumped back to 66% in 1997 but fell to 55.56% in 1998 and 59.62% in 1999.

Join us back here next time as we review the criminal cases for the nineties.

Image courtesy of Flickr by GPA Photo Archive (no changes).

From 2010 to 2020, a dissenter at the Court of Appeal was a very strong indicator that reversal was likely in criminal cases at the Supreme Court.  Overall, divided decisions were reversed at nearly double the rate of unanimous ones: 75.51% to 41.48%.  Divided decisions were more likely to be reversed than unanimous ones in eight of the eleven most recent years, with particularly lopsided numbers in 2010 (100% divided decisions to 29.85% unanimous ones); 2011 (100% to 22.73%); 2013 (100% to 38.64%); 2014 (66.67% to 42.31%); 2016 (100% to 53.06%); 2018 (60% to 33.33%) and 2020 (71.43% to 42.86%).

Across the entire thirty-one-year period from 1990 to 2020, 74.84% of criminal cases with a dissenter below were reversed at the Supreme Court.  Only 40.91% of unanimous decisions were reversed.

Join us back here next time as we continue our review of the Court’s decisions.

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

For the past two weeks, we’ve been continuing our study of the dissent rate at the Court of Appeal by  comparing the rate of dissent in the Supreme Court’s cases at the Court of Appeal to the reversal rate at the Supreme Court.  To put it another way: is a dissent below an indication that reversal is more likely at the Supreme Court?  Below we review the data for civil cases between 2010 and 2020.

For the entire 11-year period, the answer to that question is clear: yes, reversal is significantly more likely if there is a dissent below.  Overall, 74% of civil cases between 2010 and 2020 were reversed by the Supreme Court, while 56.09% of unanimous decisions were reversed.  Divided decisions were reversed at a higher rate in ten of the eleven years (all except 2010).  The numbers were particularly lopsided in 2011 (100% reversal of divided decisions, 66.67% of unanimous ones); 2014 (66.67% to 45%); 2015 (100% to 70.97%); 2017 (75% to 50%); 2018 (75% to 41.38%), and 2020 (100% to 62.96%).

Across the entire thirty-one years from 1990 to 2020, 69.06% of civil decisions with a dissenter below were reversed at the Supreme Court, while 58.47% of cases decided unanimously were reversed.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for criminal cases in the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ryan Quick (no changes).

For the years 2000 through 2009, a dissent at the Court of Appeal was nearly as strong an indicator of likely reversal in criminal cases as it had been in the preceding decade.  Between 2000 and 2009, 70.27% of cases with a dissent below were reversed, in whole or in part, at the Supreme Court.  Only 39.12% of cases decided unanimously were reversed.  Divided criminal decisions were statistically more likely to be reversed in all ten of these years compared to unanimous decisions, but the difference was particularly substantial in 2001 (100% of divided decisions reversed, only 38.89% of unanimous decisions), 2003 (80% to 37.93%), 2004 (76.92% to 36.67%), 2005 (75% to 36.84%), 2006 (100% to 46.94%), 2007 (70% to 29.41%) and 2009 (75% to 36.84%).

Join us back here next week as review the data for the years 2010 through 2020 and draw our conclusions.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Karen Borter (no changes).

Between 2000 and 2009, a dissent at the Court of Appeal was a moderately strong indication that a reversal was more likely at the Supreme Court in civil cases.  For the ten year period, 68.33% of cases with a dissent below were reversed at the Supreme Court, while 56.1% of cases decided unanimously at the Court of Appeal were reversed.  In seven of the ten years, the reversal rate for divided decisions was higher than the reversal rate of unanimous decisions.  The margin was particularly high in 2000 (77.78% for divided decisions, 50% for unanimous ones); 2001 (83.33% to 50%); 2003 (100% to 69.05%); and 2004 (71.43% to 50%).  Divided decisions led more narrowly in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for criminal cases during the same ten years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by FancyLady (no changes).