Last week, we started working on a new question – how has the length of the Illinois Supreme Court’s majority opinions evolved in civil and criminal cases since 2000? Last week, we reviewed the years 2000-2007; this week, we’ll look at the years 2008 through 2015.
The data for civil cases is reported in Table 340 below. Between 2000 and 2007, we saw that non-unanimous majority opinions were consistently a least a bit longer than majority opinions in unanimous cases. Between 2008 and 2015, the relationship between the two is not as stable. In fact, in 2009 and 2011-2013, majority opinions were slightly longer in unanimous cases.
Between 2005 and 2007, we saw last week indications that majority opinions might be getting longer, at least in non-unanimous cases. We see below that that trend hasn’t held. Non-unanimous majorities averaged 19.2 pages in 2008 to 15.4 pages in unanimous cases. The following year, non-unanimous majorities fell to 14.75 pages, while majority opinions in unanimous cases were flat at 15.39 pages. In 2010, majority opinions in non-unanimous cases were up by three and a half pages, but the average for unanimous decisions fell by nearly a page.
Majority opinions were shorter in all cases in 2011; non-unanimous majorities fell by exactly five pages, while the average unanimous majority was down to 13.28 pages. The following year, majority opinions fell further to 11.06 pages (non-majority decisions) and 11.19 pages (majority decisions). In 2013, majority opinions in non-unanimous cases reached their lowest level of the entire period, averaging only 10.14 pages. Majority opinions in unanimous decisions were only a bit longer, averaging 11.75 pages. In the most recent two years, majority opinions have gotten a bit longer – 13.0 (non-unanimous) and 11.62 (unanimous) in 2014, 15.67 (non-unanimous) and 13.06 (unanimous) in 2015.
Click here for table.
Join us back here tomorrow as we turn to an analysis of the Court’s majority opinions in criminal cases between 2008 and 2015.