Today, we’re reviewing two issues on the criminal side of the docket – what areas of law produced the most amicus briefs and were more amicus briefs offensive – supporting the appellant and attacking the Court of Appeal decision – or defensive, supporting the respondent. We begin with the 1990s.
Constitutional law was the leading subject for amici on the criminal docket at the Illinois Supreme Court. But in California, things are different. Forty-five criminal procedure cases had amicus briefs filed in the 1990s. Four more areas were in double figures – constitutional law, 22 cases; sentencing law, 19 cases; juvenile issues, 12 cases; and death penalty, 11 cases. Eight cases involving violent crimes saw amicus briefs, three each from attorney discipline, habeas corpus and property crimes cases, and two cases involving sexual offenses.
Most – but not all – of these areas of law were fairly evenly distributed between offensive and defensive amicus briefs. Criminal procedure saw 51 briefs for appellants, 46 for respondents. In constitutional law, the distribution was 27-23. Sentencing law was one of the few lopsided totals: 23 briefs supporting appellants, 9 for respondents. Juvenile issues produced 12 briefs supporting appellants, 14 for respondents. Attorney discipline cases produced 13 briefs for appellants and none for respondents. Death penalty cases were nearly evenly distributed – seven for defendants, five for prosecution. Violent crimes cases produced seven briefs for appellants, four for respondents. Habeas corpus were split three for appellants and four for respondents. Sexual offenses accounted for three briefs for appellants, two for respondents. Property crimes accounted for two appellants’ briefs, one for respondents. Drug offenses and mental health issues cases each saw one brief (apiece) for respondents.
Join us back here next Thursday as we continue our trip through the amicus data.