Yesterday, we looked for evidence that questioning at oral argument is driven by a desire to persuade a Justice’s colleagues by comparing the average questions to each side in non-unanimous versus unanimous decisions on the civil docket. Today, we repeat the comparison, looking at the Court’s criminal cases between 2008 and 2015. On the criminal side, we find slightly more evidence that disagreement on the Court drives heavier questioning – but only a bit more.

Appellants in criminal cases received more questions in non-unanimous cases than in unanimous cases in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Appellees in non-unanimous criminal cases received more questions than in unanimous cases in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2008, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 21 questions to 19.04 in unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 17.67 questions to 11.7 in unanimous cases. In 2009, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 18.64 questions to 16.95 for unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 11.27 questions to 14.82 for unanimous cases. In 2010, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 17.85 questions to 18.51 in unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 16.69 questions to 10.22 in unanimous cases. In 2011, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 23.7 questions to 17.47 in unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 8.3 questions to 15.17 in unanimous cases. In 2012, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 23 questions to only 11.7 for appellants in unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 14.6 questions to 10.48 questions for appellees in unanimous cases. In 2013, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 17 questions to 10.4 in non-unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 13.38 questions to 9.6 questions for unanimous cases. In 2014, appellants in non-unanimous cases averaged 9.86 questions to 14.44 for unanimous cases. Appellees in non-unanimous cases averaged 16.71 questions to 9.7 questions in unanimous cases. Last year, appellants in non-unanimous criminal cases averaged 10 questions per argument to 11.04 for appellants in unanimous decisions. Appellees in non-unanimous criminal cases averaged only 5 questions per argument; appellees in unanimous decisions averaged 7.19 questions.

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Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new question in comparing the Court’s oral arguments in civil and criminal cases.