We have previously addressed the Sixth Circuit’s reversal rate, and found that the circuit reverses at a rate very close to the average for all of the circuits. This post will briefly review the reversal rates in civil (including prisoner) cases from each federal district court within the Sixth Circuit.
In the past two years, the Sixth Circuit has reversed roughly 200 civil cases in its written opinions (that are available on Lexis), which is about 16% of the circuit’s total civil decisions. About half of those dispositions completely reversed the decision below, and half affirmed and reversed in part. But the surprise was that the rates varied significantly by district. The federal districts in Kentucky were reversed about 13% of the time, with honors going to the Eastern District of Kentucky which only had a singe case reversed in full. By contrast, the Sixth Circuit reversed about 25% of the cases from the Western District of Michigan and the Eastern and Middle districts of Tennessee. The Northern and Southern districts in Ohio, as well as the Western District of Tennessee, fell near the average of 16%. The size of each district didn’t matter nor did the state – the Western District of Tennessee had one of the lowest rates, while the Eastern District of Tennessee had one of the highest.
While the chances of obtaining a reversal on appeal are almost entirely dependent on the facts of the particular case, it may also be important to consider the identity and location of the district judge when calculating whether an appeal is worth the cost.