Yesterday, we continued our examination of the Court’s voting patterns, dividing the Court’s unanimity rate among the automatic death penalty appeals and the criminal non-death cases, and asking how often in the death penalty and “everything else” dockets the Court’s decision was lopsided – meaning either unanimous or one dissenter. Today, we turn our attention to the years 2008 through 2015.
For 2008, the type of criminal case had little impact on the chance the Court would be unanimous – 88.46% of the death penalty decisions were unanimous, 87.5% of the criminal non-death decisions were. The following year, unanimity among death penalty appeals was flat at 88%, but it fell among non-death cases to 75%. In 2010, 91.67% of death penalty decisions were unanimous, to only 75.51% of non-death cases.
In 2011, unanimity fell to its lowest level of the sixteen years on death penalty appeals at 73.08%. Among non-death cases, 72% were unanimous decisions. The following year, unanimity was back up to 92% on the death penalty side, but only 71.43% on the non-death side.
But in the most recent three years, the two measures have remained almost even. In 2013, 83.33% of death penalty decisions were unanimous; 81.25% of non-death decisions were. In 2014, exactly the same fraction – 83.33% – of death penalty decisions were unanimous, while 84.38% of non-death decisions were. Last year, unanimity among death penalty cases had fallen to 76.47%, while 74.07% of non-death decisions were unanimous.
We conclude by looking at the lopsided rate. Between 2008 and 2010, the rate of lopsided decisions in death penalty cases remained at very high levels: 92.31% in 2008, 92% in 2009, and 95.83% in 2010. During those same years, the rate was similar in non-death cases for 2008 and 2009 – 90% and 91.67%, respectively – but fell to 77.55% in 2010.
In 2011, 88.46% of death penalty decisions were lopsided, to 72% of non-death decisions. In 2012, all the death penalty decisions were lopsided. Among non-death cases, 83.67% were. For 2013, 83.33% of death penalty decisions were lopsided, while non-death was much higher – 93.75%. Lopsidedness rose on the death penalty side in 2014 to 91.67%, but fell slightly among non-death cases to 87.5%. Last year, 82.35% of the Court’s death penalty decisions had zero or one dissenter. On the non-death side, 81.48% were lopsided decisions.
Join us back here next week as we start work on another area of analysis – the Court’s reversal rate, in civil and criminal cases, of each District (and for the First, Second and Fourth Districts, each Division), of the Court of Appeal.