Last week, we began our review of eight years’ worth of oral arguments in civil and criminal matters at the Illinois Supreme Court. Today, we look at a simple question: does the Court tend to ask appellants or appellees more questions?
The year by year data, divided by side, is reported in Table 416 below. For the entire period, the Court asked appellants 4,150 questions in civil cases, and asked appellees 3,437 questions. In only two years – 2008 and 2012 – has the Court asked more questions of appellees. For 2008, the Court asked 418 questions of appellants, 444 of appellees (I should note that this number is reduced somewhat because several cases decided in 2008 were argued in 2007, before the Court began posting videos of arguments on the court website). The following year, the Court asked 780 questions of appellants and 617 of appellees. In 2010, questions were down on both sides in absolute terms – 639 for appellants, 445 for appellees. For 2011, appellant questions were flat at 642, while appellee questions dropped a bit more to 395. For 2012, appellant questions were down a bit to 608, but questions to appellees were way up at 317. For 2013, questions were down on both sides: 524 to appellants, 316 to appellees. For 2014, appellee questions were up slightly to 328, but questions to appellants dropped again, to 459. Last year, the Court asked 439 questions of appellants, and 408 of appellees.
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But those are aggregate numbers – what do the case-by-case averages look like? For the entire period, the Court averaged slightly more questions to appellants than appellees – 16.15 to appellants, 13.37 to appellees. The averages are relatively steady on both sides. For 2008, the Court averaged 18.17 questions per case to appellants, 19.3 to appellees. The next year, it was 20.53 to appellants, 16.24 to appellees. For 2010, the Court averaged 19.97 questions to appellants, 13.91 to appellees. For 2011, both sides were down – 17.83 questions per case to appellants, 10.97 to appellees. For 2012, questions for appellants were down to an average of 16, but the Court averaged 16.24 questions per case to appellees – a substantial increase. For 2013, both sides dropped – 15.88 questions to appellants, 9.58 to appellees. In 2014, appellant questions were up a bit, averaging 17.65 per case, and appellee questions were up by one third at 12.62. But for 2015, questions dropped on both sides to their lowest level of the eight years – 10.21 questions per case for appellants, 9.49 to appellees.
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Join us back here tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Court’s criminal cases for the years 2008 through 2015.