In a review of Fifth District Appellate Court decisions dating back through 2016, the appellate court tends to favor plaintiffs in published opinions and defendants in unpublished Rule 23 rulings.
Rule 23 decisions are not published opinions and cannot be used as supporting case law for future parties seeking to make similar claims. According to the Heyl Royster appellate division, the justices issuing the decision determine if it will be a Rule 23 or a published opinion. However, parties may file a motion to publish the ruling as an opinion within 21 days of the entry of the order.
There have been approximately 31 law and arbitration opinions filed in the Fifth District Appellate Court from January 2016 to Aug. 10, 2018. Of those 31 opinions, 10 favored defendants, or 32 percent, and 18 favored plaintiffs, or 58 percent. Three decisions were split and favored both plaintiffs and defendants, or 10 percent.
As for Rule 23 decisions, there have been approximately 54 rulings from January 2016 to July 12, 2018. Roughly 72 percent of those decisions favor defendants and 22 percent favor plaintiffs. Approximately 6 percent favor neither or both parties.
The Fifth District is comprised of 37 southern Illinois counties. The justices currently presiding over the Fifth District Appellate Court include John B. Barberis Jr., James “Randy” Moore, Judy Cates, Melissa A. Chapman, Richard P. Goldenhersh, David K. Overstreet and Thomas M. Welch.
Prior to the 2016 elections, during which Republicans Barberis and Moore were elected to the bench, opinions were split pretty evenly between the parties with 50 percent favoring plaintiffs and 43 percent favoring defendants. The remaining 7 percent favored both. However, the Rule 23 decisions weighed heavily in favor of defendants. Roughly 80 percent of the unpublished decisions favored defendants with 13 percent favoring plaintiffs. The remaining 7 percent favored either both parties or neither party.
The Fifth District saw a drop in filings in 2017 following the election with only six law and arbitration opinions filed and 17 Rule 23 decisions. During that time, opinions leaned towards plaintiffs with 66 percent favoring them and 17 percent favoring defendants. The remaining 17 percent favored both.
The Rule 23 decisions in 2017 favored defendants at 59 percent and plaintiffs at 35 percent. One case was dismissed, making up the remaining 6 percent.
So far this year, roughly 64 percent of the published opinions have favored plaintiffs with 27 favoring defendants. The remaining 9 percent favored both. As for Rule 23 decisions this year, roughly 71 percent have favored defendants with 29 favoring plaintiffs.