Last week, we began our analysis of the geographical sources of the California Supreme Court’s docket with a close look at the civil and criminal dockets. Today, we begin our review of the next five years in our period of study, 2005 to 2009, with a look at the civil docket. Since the civil docket was considerably more spread out geographically during these years than it had been between 2000 and 2004, we report the data in Tables 38A and 38B for the sake of clarity.
Los Angeles was by far the biggest source of civil cases, just as it had been the previous five years. Indeed, Los Angeles County was slightly overrepresented on the civil docket, accounting for 32.91% of the civil docket while having 26.38% of the State’s population. San Diego – the second biggest county in terms of population, but a lesser player on the civil docket from 2000 to 2004 – was the second biggest contributor between 2005 and 2009, accounting for 23 cases, or 9.7% of the docket (again, this is slight overrepresentation in terms of population – in 2010, San Diego had 8.33% of the state’s population). Sacramento, the eighth largest county in terms of population, was right behind San Diego, producing 22 cases. Once again, San Francisco was significantly overrepresented on the civil docket, accounting for nineteen civil cases, or 8.02% of the docket. Orange County, the third largest county in terms of population, was fifth in terms of civil caseload, producing nine cases. Alameda and San Bernardino counties, seventh and fifth in population, were tied for sixth with eight cases apiece. Santa Clara County, the sixth biggest county, accounted for seven cases, and seven civil cases were heard as certified questions from the Ninth Circuit. Riverside County, fourth biggest in the state by population, produced five cases, as did the Workers Compensation Appeals Board.
Santa Barbara County was next, producing four cases, or 1.69% of the civil caseload. Three smaller counties, San Joaquin, Monterey and Humboldt, were next, with three cases each. Nine different counties – Tulare, Fresno, Marin, San Mateo, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Shasta, El Dorado and Solano – accounted for two cases apiece.
Our review of the civil docket between 2005 and 2009 once again demonstrates that there is no particularly strong connection between the size of a county and its prominence on the Supreme Court’s civil docket. Only three counties in the top ten in population – Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento – account for a higher proportion of the civil docket during these five years than they do of the state’s population. Three more counties – San Bernardino, Santa Clara, and Alameda – are arguably at least slightly underrepresented. San Bernardino has 5.47% of the population, but 3.38% of the civil caseload; Santa Clara has 4.8% of the population, but 2.96% of the cases; and Alameda has 4.06% of the population and 3.38% of the cases. Four counties are arguably seriously underrepresented during these years – Orange (8.1% population, 3.8% civil cases); Riverside (5.88% and 2.11%), Contra Costa (2.82% and 0.42%), and Fresno (2.5% and 0.84%).
Join us back here next week, as we turn to the criminal and death penalty dockets between 2005 and 2009.