Today, we conclude our review of the areas of law which the California Supreme Court draws its civil and criminal dockets from with a look at the Court’s criminal docket over the past three years.
In 2013, automatic death penalty appeals accounted for 35.29% of the criminal docket. As always, the next most frequent area produced less than half as many cases: criminal procedure at 15.69%. Sentencing law accounted for 11.76% of the docket. Sex crimes and drug offenses were next, each accounting for 7.84% of the cases. Violent crimes produced 5.88% of the docket. Constitutional law was way down, accounting for only 3.92% of the cases, as did conspiracy law. Juvenile law, attorney admission and disciplinary cases, political crimes and judicial disqualification each produced one case, or 1.96% of the docket.
In 2014, the Court decided twenty-four automatic death penalty appeals, for 44.44% of the criminal docket. Only one other area – criminal procedure at 18.52% – accounted for more than ten percent of the criminal docket. Sentencing law cases produced 9.26% of the docket. Violent crimes were next, producing 7.41% of the cases. Constitutional law, property crimes, sex crimes and habeas corpus cases were next, each producing 3.7% of the docket. Finally, juvenile issues, attorney admission and disciplinary cases, and vehicle crimes, each accounted for one case, or 1.85% of the docket.
For 2015, automatic death penalty appeals accounted for 38.64% of the caseload. Sentencing law and criminal procedure were the only other areas of law accounting for more than ten percent of the docket at 25% and 18.18%, respectively. Constitutional law produced 6.82% of the cases. Five areas – violent crimes, juvenile offenses, attorney admission and disciplinary issues, sex crimes and habeas corpus cases – produced 2.27% of the cases each.
Join us back here next Thursday as we turn to a new phase of our analysis – does a dissent at the Court of Appeal help in getting Supreme Court review?