What Counties are Producing the Illinois Supreme Court’s Civil Docket (Part I)

In our last several posts, we considered how frequently the Illinois Supreme Court agrees to review summary judgments.

Next we consider the geographical sources of the Court’s civil docket. The most obvious driver of caseload should be population – more residents equals more litigation, and therefore more candidates for possible Supreme Court review. Therefore, as context for our results, we first identify the ten most populous counties in Illinois by percentage of total state population, as of the 2000 and 2010 censuses:

One might speculate that the second most important factor driving the Court’s caseload geographically, after population, would be the offices of the state government, which are for the most part located in Springfield (Sangamon County) and to a lesser degree in Chicago (Cook County). Since most (but by no means all) administrative appeals begin in the Circuit Courts rather than proceeding directly to the Appellate Court, if the Court has a significant interest in administrative law, caseload from those two counties should somewhat exceed the expected level due to population.

We begin with the first five years of the study period. The data reported is cases arising from a particular county as a percentage of the Court’s decided civil caseload:

For this initial five-year period, we see that Cook County accounts for a portion of the Court’s docket roughly proportional to its share of the state population. Sangamon County is only slightly overrepresented, a difference accounted for by government cases. Winnebago County is perhaps slightly underrepresented, while St. Clair County accounts for more cases than one would expect, based solely on population.

Next time, we’ll turn our attention to the second five years of our period, analyzing the geographic sources of the Illinois Supreme Court’s civil docket from 2005 to 2009.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bert Kaufmann (no changes).

[1] Jurisdictions accounting for one civil case each in 2000 were DuPage, Sangamon, Will, McHenry, Monroe, Franklin, Adams, Madison, Boone and Kane Counties, as well as the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

[2] Jurisdictions accounting for one civil case each in 2001 were Lake, St. Clair, Kane, Kendall, Macon, Tazewell, Hardin, McDonough, Champaign and Jefferson Counties.

[3] Jurisdictions accounting for one civil case each in 2002 were Will, Boone, Madison, McLean, Kankakee, DeWitt, Peoria, McHenry, Christian, Edgar and Kane Counties.

[4] Jurisdictions accounting for one civil case each in 2003 were Lake, St. Clair, McHenry, Adams, Kane, Jefferson, Knox, Putnam, Rock Island, Coles, Pope and Vermilion Counties.

[5] Jurisdictions accounting for one civil case each in 2004 were Sangamon, Will, Winnebago, Madison, McLean, Kane, Rock Island, Vermilion, Crawford and LaSalle Counties, as well as the Illinois Commerce Commission.