Last week, we showed that the most frequent area of criminal law for amicus briefs in California between 1990 and 1999 was criminal procedure (by a two-to-one margin).  Following crim pro were constitutional law, sentencing law, juvenile issues and death penalty cases.  So this week, we’re looking at the years 2000 through 2009.

Once again, criminal procedure led, with 33 cases drawing at least one extra brief.  But after that, we had constitutional law and juvenile issues neck-and-neck – 24 cases for con law, 23 for juvenile.  Fourteen sentencing law cases drew extra briefs and 11 habeas corpus cases did.  After that were cases involving sexual offenses (4 cases), violent crimes and property crimes (3 cases each), attorney discipline and drug offenses (2 cases each and death penalty cases (only 1).

Criminal procedure led in total number of briefs too, accounting for 69.  After that, only four more areas of law were in double figures: constitutional law (55 briefs), juvenile issues (44), habeas corpus (25 briefs) and sentencing law (17).

Of the principal areas drawing amicus briefs, criminal procedure, sentencing law and juvenile issues were lopsidedly offensive, supporting appellants.  Criminal procedure saw 46 briefs for appellants to only 23 for respondents.  Sentencing law produced 12 for appellants to 5 for respondents.  Juvenile issues produced 27 briefs for appellants, 17 for respondents.  No area of law produced a significant gap in favor of respondents’ briefs – every other area was relatively evenly balanced between briefs supporting appellants and briefs for respondents.

Join us back here next week as we review the data for the years 2010 through 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by GPA Photo Archive (no changes).

This week, we’re in part two of the latest phase of our amicus deep dive, reviewing two questions: (1) given that California sees more amicus briefs than any state court of last resort in the country, what areas of law are drawing the most activity; and (2) reviewing each area of law we identify, are more amicus briefs offensive, attacking a Court of Appeal decision, or defensive, supporting the decision (and the respondents)?

For the decade of the 1990s, we determined that the top five areas of civil side which saw the most amicus activity were tort, government and administrative, constitutional, civil procedure and insurance.  For the years 2000 through 2009, tort law narrowly led with 64 cases.  Sixty-one civil procedure cases produced briefs and 57 constitutional law cases did.  Forty-six employment law cases produced briefs and 45 government and administrative law cases did.  After that came insurance (31 cases), commercial law (21 cases), environmental law (13 cases), workers compensation (12 cases), domestic relations (10 cases) and tax law (9 cases).

Constitutional law led by a wide margin in overall amicus briefs with 284.  Tort law accounted for 230 briefs.  Civil procedure produced 208 briefs.  The remaining areas of law with three-digit totals of extra briefs for the decade were government and administrative law (188), employment law (171), commercial law (129) and insurance law (124).  Areas which had a significant balance of offensive amicus briefs supporting appellants were civil procedure (118-90), tort (136-94) and commercial law (88-41).  No areas had a significant balance of defensive briefs – the remaining areas were all more or less equally balanced between briefs supporting appellants and respondents.

Join us back here next time as we review the data in the criminal docket for the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Denise Olson (no changes).

 

Today, we’re reviewing two issues on the criminal side of the docket – what areas of law produced the most amicus briefs and were more amicus briefs offensive – supporting the appellant and attacking the Court of Appeal decision – or defensive, supporting the respondent.  We begin with the 1990s.

Constitutional law was the leading subject for amici on the criminal docket at the Illinois Supreme Court.  But in California, things are different.  Forty-five criminal procedure cases had amicus briefs filed in the 1990s.  Four more areas were in double figures – constitutional law, 22 cases; sentencing law, 19 cases; juvenile issues, 12 cases; and death penalty, 11 cases.  Eight cases involving violent crimes saw amicus briefs, three each from attorney discipline, habeas corpus and property crimes cases, and two cases involving sexual offenses.

Most – but not all – of these areas of law were fairly evenly distributed between offensive and defensive amicus briefs.  Criminal procedure saw 51 briefs for appellants, 46 for respondents.  In constitutional law, the distribution was 27-23.  Sentencing law was one of the few lopsided totals: 23 briefs supporting appellants, 9 for respondents.  Juvenile issues produced 12 briefs supporting appellants, 14 for respondents.  Attorney discipline cases produced 13 briefs for appellants and none for respondents.  Death penalty cases were nearly evenly distributed – seven for defendants, five for prosecution.  Violent crimes cases produced seven briefs for appellants, four for respondents.  Habeas corpus were split three for appellants and four for respondents.  Sexual offenses accounted for three briefs for appellants, two for respondents.  Property crimes accounted for two appellants’ briefs, one for respondents.  Drug offenses and mental health issues cases each saw one brief (apiece) for respondents.

Join us back here next Thursday as we continue our trip through the amicus data.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

This week, we’re continuing our look at the amicus brief data with two questions: (1) given how common amicus briefs are at the California Supreme Court, are briefs clustered more in cases involving certain areas of law than others; and (2) are more amicus briefs filed in California offensive – attacking an adverse Court of Appeal decision by supporting the appellant – or defensive – supporting respondent and defending a Court of Appeal decision?

In the 1990s, amicus briefs were spread among many civil areas of law.  In all seven areas saw amicus briefs in double figures.  Tort law was the most common, with amicus briefs in 76 cases.  Sixty-five government and administrative law cases had amicus briefs.  Forty-nine constitutional law cases, thirty-four civil procedure, thirty-one insurance law cases, twenty-four employment law cases and fifteen workers comp cases had amicus briefs.  Behind that were domestic relations at nine, tax law with eight cases and commercial law and environmental law at seven each.  The rest of the amicus briefs were widely scattered.

Most tort amicus briefs were offensive – 150 briefs supporting appellants, 98 for respondents.  Government and administrative law cases were more evenly distributed – 115 for appellants, 91 for respondents.  Constitutional law is almost identical – 114 for appellants, 95 for respondents.  Civil procedure is nearly even too: 61 for appellants and 55 for respondents.  Insurance law is evenly split too – 78 for appellants and 70 for respondents.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the same questions on the criminal side of the docket.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ray in Manila (no changes).

With few exceptions, it’s remained true since 2005 that somewhere between one in four and one in five criminal cases at the California Supreme Court have at least one amicus brief.  In 2005, 22.95% of the cases had one.  That rose to 24.59% in 2009 and 24.68% in 2012.  The percentage dropped off a bit to 21.82% in 2014 and 20.45% the following year.  But over the past two years, as filings in civil cases were dropping a bit, criminal cases have ticked up slightly – 24.39% in 2019 and 28.57% in 2020.

Appellants received an average of 0.21 briefs per case in support in 2005.  In 2008, that had risen to 0.303, and to 0.384 in 2010.  Filings dropped a bit from 2011 to 2014 but picked up again in 2015 – 0.39 briefs per case, and in 2016 at 0.31.  In 2018, appellant briefs reached 0.4 per case, and the number reached its highest level of the period in 2020 – 0.405 briefs per case.

Filings supporting respondents were comparatively flat throughout these years.  The average respondent received 0.25 briefs in 2005 and 0.23 in 2007.  In 2012, respondents averaged 0.16 briefs.  In 2014, there was a one-year spike to 0.45, but that almost immediately fell back to trend: 0.14 in 2017, 0.16 in 2018, 0.15 in 2019 and 0.14 in 2020.

Join us back here next week as we continue our examination of the data on amicus filings.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Edward Stojakovic (no changes).

This week, we’re continuing our examination of the basic amicus brief filing data with the years 2005 through 2020.  Although there was a one-year dip in 2004, for most of the period from 1997 to 2004, between eighty and ninety percent of all civil cases at the California Supreme Court had at least one amicus brief.  With only two exceptions (2006 and 2015), that continued in this second period.  In 2005, the number was 84.31%.  In 2010, it had risen to 90.48% of all civil cases.  After several years in the mid-to-high-eighties, 95.65% of all civil cases had an amicus brief in 2014.  The figure was over ninety again in 2016 and 2018 before falling a bit to 85.29% in 2019.  Although the sheer number of amicus briefs has been down over the past two years, nearly as many cases continued to see at least one filing – 82.76% of all civil cases had at least one amicus in 2020.

Briefs for appellants have been down slightly in recent years.  In 2005, the average appellant received 2.22 briefs in support.  By 2008, that had risen to 2.58.  A year later, it was 2.77.  In 2012, the average appellant received 2.96 additional briefs.  In 2014, there was an average of 2.78 amicus briefs, but then the fall-off came.  There were 1.81 additional briefs in 2015, 2 in 2016 and 2018, 2.06 in 2019 and only 1.79 last year.

Briefs for respondents are always lower than appellants, of course.  They are down a bit too in recent years, proportionally speaking.  In 2005, respondents saw 2.04 amicus briefs filed in support.  That nosed up to 2.23 in 2008 but fell from there to only 1.31 by 2010.  After edging up again in the years 2012-2018, respondents’ briefs have fallen sharply since 2019, averaging only 1 briefs per case in 2019 and 1.07 last year.

Join us back here tomorrow as we review the data for the criminal docket.

Image courtesy of Pixabay by jplenio (no changes).

This time, we’re looking at amicus filings in California criminal cases.  Below, we chart the yearly percentage of criminal cases decided by the Supreme Court which drew at least one amicus brief.  The figure started low at only 12.5% in 1990.  It topped out at 32.76% in 1992, 48.78% in 1994 and 30.95% in 1996 before settling down, dropping below 15% in 2000 and 2001.  The share then increased to 22.54% in 2002, 20.63% in 2003 and 20.55% in 2004.

Appellants averaged only 0.16 briefs per case in 1990.  That rose to 0.42 in 1991 and 0.512 in 1994 before falling back again.  In 1996, appellants got an average of 0.33 briefs per case.  In 1997, that was 0.32.  After dropping for a few years, it rose to 0.37 in 2002, but then fell back again – 0.27 in 2003 and 0.19 in 2004.

The spread of briefs for respondents was also up and down during this fifteen-year period.  In 1990, respondents average 0.113 briefs per case.  That rose to 0.39 in 1994 and 0.3095 by 1996, but fell after that to 0.133 in 1998, 0.073 in 2000 and 0.069 in 2001.  There was a one-year jump in 2002 to 0.324 briefs per case, but the following year, it was back down to 0.11, and fell further to 0.068 in 2004.

Join us back here next week as we review the data for the years 2005 through 2020.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund (no changes).

 

 

[For the benefit of readers who don’t read both our Illinois and California blogs, the first paragraph immediately below is reprinted from our first post of this week on the Illinois Supreme Court Review.]

In the past twenty years, several academic researchers have extended the study of amicus briefs to state courts of last resort.  In 2001, Professors Paul Brace and Kellie Sims Butler published “New Perspectives for the Comparative Study of the Judiciary: The State Supreme Court Project,” 22 The Justice System Journal 3 (2001).  They assembled data for amicus filings in all fifty state courts of last resort for all cases decided between the years 1990 and 2001.  They concluded that in a total of nineteen states (Arkansas, South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Arkansas, South Carolina, Maine, Nevada, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina), less that 5% of their total cases resulted in amicus briefs.  On the other hand, in five states (Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey and California), 25% or more of all cases resulted in amicus briefs.  California led the way at just over 37%.

We began by replicating the data from the study, tracking the yearly percentage of civil cases with at least one amicus brief.  The number started out quite high and went even higher; in 1991, 77.5% of all civil cases drew at least one amicus brief.  By 1997, that figure had risen to 88%.  After a brief dip, in 2001, 89.58% of all civil cases had at least one amicus.  The figure topped out for this first half of our study period in 2003, when 90.91% of all civil cases had at least one amicus brief.  For the entire period 1990 through 2001 – the same years covered by the study – we found 572 cases with amicus briefs out of 1,195 total cases.  Thus, during these years, 47.87% of all cases at the California Supreme Court had at least one amicus brief.

Next, we track the average number of amicus briefs per appellant in civil cases.  Interestingly, although the percentage of cases with at least one amicus edged up during these years, the average number of briefs per appellant didn’t, suggesting that the increase was not so much in the number of briefs being filed in the same sorts of cases as it was briefs being filed in a wider cross-section of cases.

In 1990, appellants averaged 1.28 amicus briefs per case.  That rose to 1.61 in 1994 and 2.1 in 1997.  After a one-year dip, the average rose back to 2.02 in 1999 and 2.18 in 2000.  The number dipped again, this time for two years, before topping out at 2.7 briefs per case in 2003.

For the most part, respondents averaged fewer amicus briefs per year than appellants.  The average started at 0.97 average briefs in 1990.  By 1995, it had risen to 1.37, and by 2000, to 1.65.  After a slight dip for the three years following, the average reached 1.77 briefs per case in 2004.

Join us back here next time as we review the data for the criminal docket during the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Eric Kilby (no changes).

In 2010, Division Two of the Second District averaged six votes to affirm in cases not unanimously affirmed.  Division Four of the Second averaged three votes and Division Four of the First and Division Three of the Second averaged two votes.  In 2011, Division Three of the First District averaged six votes to affirm.  Divisions Four and Three of the Second District averaged one and 0.5 votes.  In 2012, Division Four of the Second District averaged three votes and Division Four of the First averaged two.  In 2013, Division Two of the First District averaged six votes.  Division Four and Three of the Second averaged two votes and 1.5 votes, respectively.  In 2014, Division Three of the Second District averaged four votes and Division Two of the Second averaged 3.5 votes to affirm.  In 2015, Division One of the Second District averaged 0.5 votes.

In 2010, Division Five of the Second District averaged three votes, while Division Three of the Fourth averaged 0.5.  In 2011, Division Three of the Fourth District averaged 1.5 votes.  Division One of the Fourth averaged 0.5 votes and Division Five of the Second averaged 0.25 votes.  In 2012, Division One of the Fourth District averaged two votes to affirm, and Division Three of the Fourth averaged two-thirds of a vote.  In 2013, Division Eight of the Second District averaged 3.75 votes to affirm.  In 2014, Division Two of the Fourth District averaged five votes, Division Five of the Second averaged 2.5 votes and Division Six of the Second averaged 1.5 votes.  In 2015, Division Three of the Fourth District averaged 1.25 votes.  Division Five of the Second averaged one vote and Division Two of the Fourth averaged two-thirds of a vote.

In 2016, Division Two of the First District averaged four votes to affirm.  Division One of the Second was at 1.83 votes, while Division Three of the Second averaged one vote.  In 2017, Division Two of the First District averaged four votes to affirm, and Division Five of the First averaged one.  In 2018, Division Four of First District and Division Four of the Second averaged two votes to affirm.  In 2019, Division Two o the Second District averaged three votes, while Division Three of the Second averaged 2.5.  In 2020, Division Two of the First District averaged three votes to affirm, while all the other courts averaged zero.

In 2016, Division Eight of the Second District averaged 2.5 votes to affirm, while Division Seven averaged 2.  The following year, Division Seven averaged six votes and Division Two of the Fourth District averaged five votes.  In 2018, none of the courts – Divisions Six, Seven and Eight of the Second District, the Third District, Divisions One, Two and Three of the Fourth District or the Fifth or Sixth Districts – had any unanimous affirmances.  In 2019, Division One of the Fourth District averaged 0.5 votes to affirm.  Last year, the Third District averaged 3.33 votes, but Divisions One and Three of the Fourth and the Fifth District averaged zero.

 

 

In 2010, one-third of civil decisions from Division Two of the Second District were affirmed unanimously.  One-third of decisions from Division Two of the First and Division Three of the Second were.  In 2011, half the decisions from Division Four of the First were affirmed unanimously, and one-third from Division One of the Second were.  In 2012, all the decisions from Division Two of the First District were affirmed unanimously, while half from Division Four of the First and Division Three of the Second were.  In 2013, all of the decisions from Divisions One and Three of the First District were affirmed unanimously, while two-thirds of the decisions from Division One of the Second were.  In 2014, all of the decisions from Divisions One and Five of the First District were affirmed unanimously.  In 2015, half the decisions from Division Three of the Second were affirmed unanimously and one-quarter from Division Four of the Second were.

In 2010, all of the decisions from Division Six of the Second District and Division One of the Fourth were unanimously affirmed.  In 2011, half the decisions from the Sixth District were unanimously affirmed.  In 2012, 100% of the decisions from Division Two of the Fourth District were affirmed unanimously.  In 2013, all decisions from Division Seven of the Second, Division Two of the Fourth and the Fifth District were unanimously affirmed.  In 2014, one-third of the decisions from Division Five of the Second District and the Fifth District were unanimously affirmed.  In 2015, all of the decisions from the Fifth and Sixth Districts were unanimously affirmed.

In 2016, each of the decisions from Divisions Two and Four of the Second District were unanimously affirmed.  One-quarter from Division Three of the Second were, and 14.29% from Division One of the Second.  In 2017, two-thirds of the decisions from Division Two of the Second were unanimously affirmed and sixty percent from Division Three of the Second were.  In 2018, all decisions from Division Two of the First District and Division One of the Second were unanimously affirmed.  In 2019, all decisions from Divisions Two and Five of the First District were unanimously affirmed.  In 2020, the only unanimous affirmances in this group of courts were from Division Two of the Second District – 100%.

In 2016, all decisions from Division One of the Fourth District were unanimously affirmed, and half of the decisions from the Third District and Divisions Five and Seven of the Second were.  In 2017, all decisions from Division Five of the Second were unanimously affirmed and half of the decisions from Division One of the Fourth were.  In 2018, three-quarters of the decisions from Division Seven of the Second District were unanimously affirmed; two-thirds from Division Three of the Fourth were and 60% of the decisions from Division One of the Fourth were.  In 2019, all decisions from Divisions Five and Eight of the Second District were unanimously affirmed.  In 2020, one-third of the decisions from Division Three of the Fourth District were unanimously affirmed and one-quarter from the Third District were.

Join us back here next time as we review the data relating to average votes to affirm.

Image courtesy of Pixabay by nightowl (no changes).