Last week, we reviewed the year-by-year data since 1994 for amicus briefs, looking at whether more amici tend to support the petitioner or the respondent. This week, we’re looking at the Court’s experience with amicus briefs in criminal cases.
The primary lesson of the data is the obvious one: amicus briefs are far less commonplace in criminal cases than in civil cases. Nevertheless, the relation between the sides was the same between 1994 and 2005: in every year but one, there were more amici supporting the petitioner than supporting the respondent.
In 1994, petitioners averaged 0.51 amicus briefs to 0.39 for respondents. That was the highest level amicus briefs reached on each side over the following decade. In 1995, petitioners averaged 0.16 amici to 0.14 for respondents. In 1996, petitioners averaged 0.38 amicus briefs supporting them to 0.36 for respondents. In 1997, petitioners averaged slightly fewer briefs – 0.32 per case – but respondents tailed off even more, to 0.18. Amicus briefs were fairly steady in 1998 and 1999 – petitioners averaged 0.24 and 0.27 briefs per case, while respondents averaged 0.13 and 0.17, before decreases on both sides in 2000, when petitioners averaged only 0.11 to 0.07 per case for respondents.
Briefs for petitioners were up a bit in 2001 to 0.22 per case, while briefs supporting respondents were flat at 0.07. In 2002, briefs were up on both sides, averaging 0.37 per case supporting petitioners to 0.32 for respondents. In 2003, petitioners averaged 0.27 per case to 0.11 for respondents. In 2004, petitioners averaged 0.19 to only 0.07 per case supporting respondents. 2005 was the only year in the period when respondents averaged more amici than petitioners. That year, petitioners averaged 0.21 briefs per case to 0.25 supporting respondents.
Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data from 2006 through 2016.