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This week, we’re reviewing Justice Theis’ history in oral arguments in civil cases.  Having established that the party which gets more questions at argument overall is likely to lose, we’re trying to determine (1) whether each individual Justice follows that same pattern when she or he agrees with the majority; and (2) when he or she dissents, does the Justice more heavily question the side the Justice thinks should lose, or the side the majority believes should lose?  This week, we’re looking at the data for Justice Theis, civil cases first. When Justice Theis agrees with the majority in a…
This time, we’re reviewing the data for Justice Theis’ question patterns in criminal cases. When Justice Theis agrees with the majority in an affirmance, she follows the expected pattern, averaging 3.22 questions to appellants and only 1.38 to appellees.  However, she breaks from the pattern in reversals, more heavily questioning the winner – 3.02 to appellants, 2.66 to appellees.  When Justice Theis joins the majority in a split result – affirmed in part, reversed in part – her numbers are almost identical – 2.3 questions to appellants, 2.23 to appellees. Once again, in most cases where Justice Theis breaks with…
For the past few weeks, we’ve been reviewing the oral argument data on individual Justices, trying to determine whether it’s possible to predict from the analytics whether a particular Justice is likely to dissent.  This week, we’re looking at the numbers for Chief Justice Burke. When the Chief Justice is in the majority, we see the expected patterns.  In an affirmance, she averages 2.74 questions to appellants and 1.24 to appellees.  In a reversal, she averages two questions to appellees and 1.78 to respondents.  When she joins the majority in a split result (“affirmed in part, reversed in part”), she…
In criminal cases where the Chief Justice is voting with the majority, she tends to question the appellant more heavily regardless of the result – a break with the expected pattern.  When joining an affirmance since the Court first started posting oral argument videos, she has averaged 1.71 questions to appellants and 1.08 to appellees.  When joining a reversal, she has averaged 1.75 questions to appellants and 1.62 to appellees.  When joining in a split result (“affirmed in part, reversed in part”), she has averaged 1.37 questions to appellants and 0.88 to appellees. When Chief Justice Burke dissents from an…
Today, we’re reviewing the pattern of Justice Karmeier’s questions in oral argument on criminal cases. When Justice Karmeier joins the majority of a simple affirmance or reversal, his questions show the expected pattern – he tends to more heavily question the losing side.  In affirmances, he averages 1.88 questions to appellants and 0.68 to appellees.  In reversals, he averages 1.82 to appellees and 1.36 to appellants.  In the slightly less clear case of when Justice Karmeier joins a split decision – affirmed in part, reversed in part – he averages 1.98 questions to appellees and 1 to appellants. When Justice…
For the past few weeks, we’ve been reviewing the oral argument questioning of individual Justices, attempting to answer this question: if the Court as a whole is likely to more heavily question the party who will lose the case, what about Justices planning to dissent from that result?  This week, we’re looking at Justice Karmeier’s recent history. Although Justice Karmeier is usually not an especially active questioner at oral argument, we see the expected patters when he joins the majority.  In affirmances, he averages 1.65 questions to appellants and 1.08 to appellees.  In reversals, he averages 1.52 questions to appellees,…
Yesterday, we reviewed the data on Justice Kilbride’s oral arguments in civil cases.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal cases. As you can see from the Table below, Justice Kilbride asks very few questions in criminal oral arguments.  When he’s in the majority of an affirmance, he averages 0.48 questions to appellants, 0.3 to appellees.  When he’s in the majority of a reversal, he averages 0.69 questions to appellees and 0.57 to appellants.  When he’s in the majority of a split decision, he averages 0.4 questions to appellees and 0.17 to appellants. When Justice Kilbride dissents from a criminal affirmance,…
A few weeks ago, we established that court-wide, the party which is likely to lose tends to get the most questions in oral argument.  Now, we’re investigating individual Justices’ records – when the Justice agrees with the majority, does he or she follow the usual pattern, and when he or she doesn’t agree, does the Justice more heavily question that party that will lose, or the party he or she thinks should lose?  This time, we’re looking at Justice Kilbride’s history – first up, civil cases. In civil affirmances where Justice Kilbride is with the majority, Justice Kilbride more heavily…
Last time, we reviewed Justice Garman’s record in oral arguments in civil cases, both when she agreed with the majority and when she didn’t.  Today, we’re reviewing the criminal docket. Once again we begin with cases in which the Court affirms.  When Justice Garman agrees, she more heavily questions the losing appellant, 2.44 to 0.79.  She has participated in no cases where the majority affirmed and Justice Garman wanted to return a split decision.  When the majority affirms but Justice Garman wants to reverse, she more heavily questions the appellees – 2.67 to 1.67 for appellants. For criminal reversals when…
For the last two weeks, we’ve been looking at the court-wide data for questions at oral argument.  We discussed the academic research into oral argument questions, which demonstrates that at the U.S. Supreme Court, the party which will lose the case generally gets the most questions.  We then looked at the data for the Illinois Supreme Court year by year since 2008.  Today, we’re digging deeper on that theme: do individual Justices follow the court-wide pattern of more heavily questioning the party which will lose the case?  What about when the Justice disagrees with the majority – does he or…
Yesterday, we disaggregated the data on oral arguments in civil cases where there is a partial or complete reversal.  Today, we’re looking at the criminal cases. First, we review the data for outright reversals – did the appellants or appellees average more questions per argument?  We report the data in Table 1673 below.  In ten of thirteen years between 2008 and 2020, appellees averaged more questions than appellants in outright reversals. Now let’s look at the split decisions.  Once again, the same caution – these are typically very small data sets, so we must be cautious about our conclusions.  But…
Last week, we reviewed the academic literature studying oral argument analytics, and then compared the data for civil and criminal cases, both affirmances and reversals, to the outcome of those earlier studies.  This week, we’re digging deeper on that work.  For last week’s comparison, we aggregated outright reversals and split decisions: “affirmed in part, reversed in part.”  Now let’s disaggregate – compare outright reversals to split decisions. You’ll recall that the academic literature suggests that all things being equal, the party which gets more questions is likely to lose the case.  When we review the data for outright reversals in…
Today, we begin a new subject in our ongoing analytics study of the Court’s decision making – oral arguments.  Although the academic community has been producing analytics studies of appellate decision making for a century, the analytics study of oral arguments is a much more recent development. The earliest study appears to be Sarah Levien Shullman’s 2004 article for the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process.  Shullman analyzed oral arguments in ten cases at the United States Supreme Court, noting each question asked by the Justices and assigning a score from one to five to each depending on how helpful…
Last time, we surveyed the academic research applying analytics techniques to appellate oral arguments and then reviewed the data for civil arguments at the Supreme Court since 2008.  In this post, we’re reviewing the data for the same period on the criminal side of the docket. Since the Court began posting arguments in 2008 through the end of August 2020, the Supreme Court has asked counsel 11,580 questions in criminal cases – 6,567 to appellants and 5,013 to appellees.  Perhaps because criminal defendants are the appellants in most criminal cases the Court hears, appellants have received more questions across the…
Yesterday, we began our review of the Supreme Court’s civil constitutional law cases from 1990 to 2019.  Between 2005 and 2019, the Supreme Court decided 64 civil constitutional law cases.  Thirty-three of the Court’s constitutional law cases involved challenges to state government actions, and these cases were evenly distributed across the fifteen years.  Thirteen cases involved court process and procedure.  Nine cases involved claims of individual rights and another nine involved challenges to local government actions. Join us back here next Tuesday as we address a new issue. Image courtesy of Flickr by David Wilson (no changes).…
For the past two weeks, we’ve been digging deeper on the Supreme Court’s caseload, dividing the cases by area of law into sub-areas.  This week, we’re looking at the Court’s docket of civil constitutional law cases – what kinds of cases make it to the Supreme Court?  We’ll divide the cases into four categories: cases involving the actions of state government; cases involving the actions of local governments; cases involving court process and procedure; and individual rights.  Once again, the height of a bar on the chart signifies the total number of civil constitutional law cases for the year.  The…