Reviewing the Justices’ Voting Records in Death Penalty Appeals, 1990-2010 (Part 2)

Yesterday, we reviewed the individual Justices’ voting records in death penalty cases for the years 1990 through 1999. Today, we’re looking at the Justices’ voting records for the years 2000 through abolition in 2010.

Partial reversals with the sentence affirmed were quite rare during the years 2000 through 2004. Justice Miller led the Court, voting to affirm in 82.35% of his cases. Four Justices voted to affirm between seventy and eighty percent of the time – Justices Heiple and Rathje (76.47%), Thomas and Rarick (75%). Justice Kilbride was the least frequent vote to affirm outright, voting that way only 35.29% of the time for these years.

By the beginning of this period, Justice Harrison was voting to reverse in part while vacating the sentence, or reverse outright, in every death penalty case. He voted to reverse in part with the sentence vacated in 51.72% of his cases. Justice McMorrow cast such votes 20.59% of the time. Justice Fitzgerald did in 18.75% of his cases, followed by Justices Freeman, Bilandic and Kilbride (17.65% each).

The most frequent votes to reverse outright were Justice Harrison (48.28%) and Justice Kilbride (47.06%). Justices Rarick and Garman voted to reverse in one quarter of their cases. Justices McMorrow and Freeman each voted to reverse in 20.59% of their cases during these years. Justice Fitzgerald voted to reverse in 18.75% of their cases. Justices Rathje and Bilandic voted to reverse in 17.65% of their cases.

In Table 557, we report the data on votes to affirm outright, and to reverse in part with the sentence affirmed, for the years 2005 through 2010. Justice Garman voted to affirm in 71.43% of her cases. Justices Freeman, Thomas and Fitzgerald voted to affirm 64.29% of the time. Justice Karmeier voted to affirm in 61.54% of his cases. The most frequent vote to reverse in part with the sentence affirmed was Justice Kilbride at 16.67%. Justice Burke voted that way in 10% of her cases. Justice McMorrow was last, casting no such votes.

Finally, we report the data for partial and outright reversals for the years 2005 through 2010 in Table 558. Justice McMorrow voted to reverse in part with the sentence vacated in one third of her cases, Justice Kilbride voted that way in 16.67% of his cases, and Justice Burke did in 10% of her cases. Justice Karmeier voted to reverse in part 7.69% of the time.

Justices McMorrow and Kilbride each voted to reverse outright in one third of their cases between 2005 and 2010. Justice Karmeier voted that way in 23.08% of his cases. Justices Freeman, Thomas and Fitzgerald each voted to reverse in 21.43% of their cases. Justice Burke voted to reverse 20% of the time. Justice Garman was the least frequent vote to reverse – 14.28%.

Join us back here next week as we begin another topic in our investigation of the Court’s decision making.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Adam Moss (no changes).