Last week, we began analyzing how often the California Supreme Court is closely divided in civil and criminal cases with a look at the years 2000 through 2007. This week, we’ll address the years 2008 through 2015.
Between 2000 and 2006, the California Supreme Court typically decided between sixty and seventy percent of its cases unanimously. Beginning in 2008, the unanimity rate rose substantially. In 2008, 77.5% of the Court’s civil cases were decided unanimously. In 2009, 84.09% of the civil cases were. In the four years following – 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 – the Court decided between seventy and eighty percent of its cases unanimously every year: 78.57%, 75.76%, 73.08% and 78.13%, respectively. In 2014, the unanimity rate fell to 69.57%, but the following year, unanimity was sharply up, with 87.5% of the Court’s civil cases being decided unanimously.
The rate of lopsided decisions – civil cases with one dissenter or unanimously – rose from 2008 to 2015 too. The rate shifted back and forth for several years – 82.5% in 2008 to 93.18% in 2009; to 85.71% in 2010 and 93.94% in 2011; to 88.46% in 2012 and 87.5% in 2013. In 2014, the lopsided rate reached its lowest level of this second eight years at 78.26% (the lopsided rate was lower than that in five of the eight years before 2000 and 2007). In 2015, the lopsided rate reached its second highest rate of the sixteen-year period, with only two of the Court’s thirty-two civil cases ending with two or three dissenters.
Join us here tomorrow as we review the rate of unanimous and lopsided criminal decisions on the Court between 2008 and 2015.