Today, we conclude our review of the jurisdictional sources of the California Supreme Court’s docket by taking a look at the criminal docket between 2011 and 2015.
Final judgments historically amount to a somewhat lower fraction of the criminal docket than they do on the civil docket. They dropped to a particularly low level in 2011, amounting to only 25.49% of the criminal, quasi-criminal, juvenile and disciplinary docket. Death penalty appeals under Penal Code Section 1239(b), on the other hand, were up, accounting for slightly more than half the docket (50.98%). The Court decided four habeas corpus cases (two involving death penalties and two not), two appeals arising from guilty pleas, and four juvenile cases under the Welfare and Institutions Code. Finally, the Court decided one appeal arising from a pre-trial dispositive order and one under the Court’s original jurisdiction.
Final judgments rose back to a more traditional level as a fraction of the criminal docket in 2012, accounting for 48.33% of the caseload. Meanwhile, death penalty appeals were down significantly at 28.33% of the docket. The Court decided eight habeas cases in non-death cases (13.33%) and one in a death penalty case. Two cases arose from guilty pleas, and the Court heard three juvenile cases under various provisions of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
For 2013, final judgments were relatively flat as a fraction of the docket. Although the Court decided fewer such cases – 23 in 2013 to 29 in 2012 – the criminal docket was also down a bit, so that amounted to 46% of the caseload. Meanwhile, another 36% arose from death penalty appeals. The Court decided a total of ten habeas corpus cases in 2013, 8% of the docket in non-death habeas and another 2% in death cases. Appeals from guilty pleas accounted for another 4% of the docket. Finally, the Court decided two juvenile cases under the Welfare and Institutions Code.
For 2014, final judgments were down again as a fraction of the docket at 30.91%. Once again, death penalty appeals were more common than final non-death judgments in the Court’s criminal caseload, as the Court decided 23 such appeals (41.82% of the docket). The Court decided five habeas corpus cases, with 5.45% of the docket arising from non-death habeas and 3.64% accounted for by habeas petitions in death cases. Pretrial orders, juvenile offenses, appeals involving attorney disciplinary actions and Section 190.5 of the Penal Code (first degree murders by juveniles) accounted for 3.64% of the docket apiece. Finally, the Court decided one case arising from a dispositive order in a misdemeanor case.
Last year, final judgments and death penalty cases once again dominated the Court’s criminal docket, with final judgments in non-death cases accounting for 45.45% of the Court’s criminal docket, and appeals from death penalties another 38.64%. The Court decided five habeas cases last year, four in non-death cases and one in a death penalty case. Finally, the Court decided one juvenile case and one attorney disciplinary matter.
Join us back here next Thursday as we turn to another subject in our analysis of the Court’s docket – the counties from which the Court’s civil, criminal and death penalty dockets arise.