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.