Yesterday, we reviewed trends in the Illinois Supreme Court’s special concurrences in civil cases. Today, we turn to the criminal docket.
We report the data in Table 344 below. We noted yesterday that special concurrences tended to be somewhat longer in non-unanimous decisions, speculating that concurrences might be used at times to respond to points raised in dissents. We see here that that’s not true in criminal cases – non-unanimous concurrences were longer in only five of the sixteen years. In addition to being more numerous, concurrences have tended to be somewhat longer on the criminal side. Between 2000 and 2006, concurrences in unanimous cases have generally averaged between 4 and 6 pages (with the lone exceptions of 2001 and 2005). Concurrences in non-unanimous decisions were more variable, ranging from only one page in 2004 to 10.3 in 2006.
In the years since, there’s no consistent trend in the average length of concurrences on the criminal side. For example, in 2008, concurrences in non-unanimous cases averaged three pages. In 2010, they were up to 7.33 pages. Two years later, concurrences in non-unanimous cases averaged only one page. In 2008, concurrences in unanimous cases averaged 4.17 pages. By 2012, that was down to 2.67 pages. But by 2014, the average concurrence in unanimous cases averaged six pages. Last year, all the special concurrences on the criminal side were in unanimous decisions, with an average length of 4.75 pages.
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Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to trends in the Court’s dissents.