Yesterday, we continued our analysis of the Illinois Supreme Court’s oral arguments by analyzing whether the Court generally asked more questions of appellants or appellees in civil cases. Today, we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal docket.

Between 2008 and 2015, the Court asked 5,057 questions of appellants in criminal, quasi-criminal and juvenile matters, and 3,718 questions of appellees. The Court asked significantly more questions of appellants in every year of the period. For the partial year of 2008, appellants were asked 577 questions, and appellees received 369 questions. For 2009, appellants were asked 849 questions, and appellees received 687 questions. For 2010, appellants reached their highest level at 991 questions. Appellees received 636 questions that year. For 2011, appellant questions declined to 866, but appellee questions were fairly flat at 629.

In the years since 2011, the Court has been markedly less active in its questioning in criminal matters. For 2012, the Court asked 499 questions of appellants, and 387 of appellees. The next year, appellant questions were down slightly to 477, appellee questions were up a bit to 414. For 2014, appellant questions declined a bit more to 459. Appellee questions were down as well, to 379. For 2015, questions to both sides were at their lowest level – 347 questions for appellants, 217 for appellees.

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Overall, the Court has averaged 16.05 questions to criminal appellants (generally, but not always, the defendant), and 11.8 to appellees. Questions to appellants were at their highest level in 2008, averaging 19.9. Appellees received 12.72 questions per case that year. In 2009, appellants averaged 17.69 questions per case, while appellees averaged 14.31. The next year, appellants were at 18.69 questions per case, and appellees averaged 12. For 2011, appellants averaged 19.24 questions, while appellees averaged 13.98. Since 2011, questions to appellants have fallen – 15.59 per case in 2012, 12.89 in 2013, 13.91 in 2014 and 11.19 questions in 2015. Questions to appellees were only down slightly as a per case average – 12.09 in 2012, 11.19 in 2013 and 11.48 in 2014. For 2015, appellees averaged a mere seven questions per case.

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I’ve heard it said by specialists in criminal appeals that the Court is significantly less active in criminal arguments than it is in civil cases. In Table 420, we consolidate the per-case averages for civil and criminal cases into the same graph to investigate the issue.

Overall, the Court has not been substantially more active in civil than in criminal matters. Civil appellants have received an average of 16.15 questions per case to 16.05 for criminal appellants. Civil appellees have averaged 13.37 questions per case to 11.8 for criminal appellees. For 2008, criminal appellants received more questions than civil appellants, but civil appellees averaged more questions than their counterparts. For 2009 and 2010, civil appellants and appellees both averaged more questions than criminal case parties. But for 2011, the relationship reversed – both criminal appellants and appellees averaged more questions than civil litigants. And in 2012, the relationship reversed again, with civil cases being more active. In 2013, civil appellants averaged more questions, but criminal appellees averaged more than civil appellees. For 2014, both sides in civil cases averaged more questions than criminal litigants. For 2015, with questions down across the board, criminal appellants averaged more questions, but civil appellees had a narrow lead.

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