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This week we’re looking at an issue related to our discussion of panel effects: has the unanimity rate on the Court been impacted by shifts in the party alignment of the Justices? For the entire decade of the 1990s, the Court consisted of four Democratic Justices and three Republicans.  Although none of the changes affected the party alignment, it was nevertheless a period of shifting membership on the Court.  Charles Freeman replaced Daniel Ward, James Heiple replaced Howard Ryan and Michael Bilandic replaced John Stamos in 1990.  Joseph Cunningham replaced Horace Calvo in 1991.  Mary Ann McMorrow replaced William Clark,…
This week, we’re tracking the Supreme Court’s unanimity rate in civil cases, matched against the evolving party alignment of the Justices.  Last time, we reviewed the data for the 1990s.  Today, we’re reviewing the data for the years 2001 through 2010. With Democrat Thomas Kilbride having replaced James Heiple in the final days of 2000, the Court was at five Democrats and two Republicans from 2001 through the end of 2004.  For these four years, the overall unanimity rate was 71.14% – ten points higher than it was in the nineties.  The unanimity rate in 2001 was 74.51%.  It fell…
With this post, we begin our short review of some of the academic literature regarding panel effects. Of course, the first question one encounters when taking a case before an appellate court is how one’s panel will be chosen.  A majority of appellate courts state, either in their operating procedures or their rules, that appellate panels for argued cases are assigned randomly.  This assumption has been built into most of the analytics work done on panel effects for at least a generation. But is it really true?  I have spoken with lawyers in several federal circuits who are dubious about…
This week, we’re taking a short break from our usual number-heavy analysis for another glance at some of the vast academic literature on the analytic-driven analysis of appellate decision making.  This is a four-part post – two here and two over at the California Supreme Court Review – sampling some of the literature on “panel effects.” Of course, virtually all appellate decision making takes place in panels of judges – sometimes three, occasionally five, frequently seven or at the U.S. Supreme Court (or a Circuit en banc), nine or more.  It’s easy to fall into the trap in assessing an…
This time, we’re concluding our three-week trip through the data for originating jurisdictions, looking at the Court’s criminal cases between 2010 and 2020. For these years, Cook County accounted for 156 criminal cases.  Will County was next, followed by Peoria, Du Page, Kane and Lake counties. Several small counties made our second Table, producing between two and four criminal cases apiece.  Interestingly, Madison and Sangamon counties, both of which tend to account for quite a few civil cases, produced only two criminal cases each over the past eleven years.  An additional twenty jurisdictions produced one case apiece. Join us back…
This week, we’re wrapping up our three-week series on the geographical origins of the Court’s docket by reviewing the data for the years 2010 through 2020. Between 2010 and 2020, the Court decided 150 civil cases which began in Cook County (once again, Cook is removed from the Table for readability).  There was a three-way tie for second between Du Page, Lake and Sangamon County.  Once again, Madison County was high on the list, as were Kane and Champaign County.  Several administrative bodies were high on the list as well, including the Department of Revenue, the Workers Compensation Commission and…
This week, we’re reporting the data for the Supreme Court’s civil and criminal cases during the years 2000 through 2009. Once again, Cook County led by a wide margin, accounting for 172 civil cases.  Du Page and Lake counties – the second and third largest counties by population – were next, followed by the Industrial Commission.  St. Clair County from the Fifth District followed, with Sangamon County, Will County and Madison County next. The remaining sixteen jurisdictions accounting for two or more civil cases each are reported in Table 1716 below.  An additional 64 jurisdictions produced one case apiece. Join…
For the past several posts, we’ve been reviewing the jurisdictions where the Illinois Supreme Court’s civil and criminal cases originated.  This time, we’re looking at the criminal cases for the years 2000 through 2009. Once again, we omit Cook County from the Table to make it easier to read.  Cook County produced 225 criminal cases from 2000 to 2009.  Second was Du Page County, followed by Kane and Champaign County, then Lake and Peoria County. Twenty additional jurisdictions, reported in Table 1718 below, accounted for two or more criminal cases.  An additional twenty-three jurisdictions produced one criminal case each. Join…
This week, we’re looking at where the Supreme Court’s cases originate.  This is important for the same reason that tracking which Districts and Divisions of the Appellate Court the Court is taking its cases from.  Just as it’s possible for the Court to conclude that a particular part of the Appellate Court is out of step with its views, it’s equally possible for the Court to be concerned about a trial court or agency.  If the Supreme Court accepts cases from the jurisdiction where you are every year, that’s a good sign for the prospects of getting review.  On the…
In this post, we report the originating jurisdictions for the Court’s criminal cases during the years 1990 through 1999.  Once again, we omit Cook County from the chart to make it more readable; Cook County produced 268 criminal cases during the nineties.  Lake County, the third biggest county in terms of population, is second in criminal cases.  Douglas County, which is only 58th in population – home to only 19,623 people according to the estimated 2019 population – was third in criminal cases during the 1990s.  Will County, the fourth biggest county by population, was next, followed by disciplinary cases…
Last time, we began our analysis by addressing the competing theories of judicial behavior.  Formalism, the oldest theory, teaches that judicial decision making can be explained and predicted based upon the facts, the applicable law and precedent and judicial deliberations – and nothing more.  But if formalism explains all of judicial decision making, then many of the factors studied by empirical analysts, such as the judges’ individual ideologies and voting records, the lower courts involved and the nature of the parties to the litigation, should have little ability to forecast voting and outcomes.  But many studies have shown that such…
Today, we’re reviewing the contents of our database, which includes every case decided by the Illinois Supreme Court since January 17, 1990.  For every case, we’ve captured the following data points: Official Reporter Citation E. Reporter Citation Docket Number Case Name Petitioner Petitioner Governmental Entity (Y/N) Respondent Governmental Entity (Y/N) Source of Appellate Jurisdiction Originating Jurisdiction Trial Court Trial Judge Source of Case (Appellate Court) Lower Court Dissent (Y/N) Lower Court Published (Y/N) Lower Court Disposition Lower Court Disposition Direction Petition Granted Oral Argument Decision Grant to Oral Argument Argument to Decision Issue Issue Area Disposition Direction Dissent Direction Disposition…
  Our short series of contextual reposts continues: Although the state Supreme Courts have not attracted anything near the level of study from academics engaged in empirical legal studies that the U.S. Supreme Courts and Federal Circuits have a number of different researchers have attempted to compare how influential the various state courts are for the development of American law. One of the first efforts was published in 1936 by Rodney L. Mott, “Judicial Influence” (30 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 295 (1936)). Using several different proxies for influence, including law professors’ rankings, reprinting of a court’s cases in casebooks, citations…
  Our latest repost: We begin our analysis by addressing the foundation of the entire body of data analytic scholarship on appellate judging: competing theories of judicial decision making. The oldest theory by far is generally known in the literature as “formalism.”  This is the theory we all learned in law school, according to which every decision turns on four factors, each completely extrinsic to the background and ideology of the individual judge: (1) the case record on appeal; (2) the applicable law; (3) controlling precedent; and (4) judicial deliberations (at least in the appellate world).  As Judge Richard Posner
I’m always surprised when I encounter litigators who dismiss litigation analytics as a passing fad.  In fact, as shown in the reprint post below, it’s a century-long academic enterprise which has produced many hundreds of studies conclusively proving through tens of thousands of pages of analysis the value of data analytics in better understanding how appellate decisions are actually made.  Here’s the second in our reprint series, both here and at the California blog: The application of data analytic techniques to the study of judicial decision making arguably begins with political scientist Charles Grove Haines’ 1922 article in the Illinois…
The Illinois Supreme Court Review recently marked its sixth anniversary.  In April, the California Supreme Court Review turns five. So I thought it was time for a first: cross-posted reprints from the earliest days of the blogs.  My early attempts to provide context for the work and to answer the question I often heard in those days: “Interesting, but what difference does it make?” So for the next 2-3 weeks, we’ll be reprinting those context posts – with minimal revisions – both here and at the sister California blog.  For readers who follow both blogs, be warned – the two…