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.