This week, we’re in part two of the latest phase of our amicus deep dive, reviewing two questions: (1) given that California sees more amicus briefs than any state court of last resort in the country, what areas of law are drawing the most activity; and (2) reviewing each area of law we identify, are more amicus briefs offensive, attacking a Court of Appeal decision, or defensive, supporting the decision (and the respondents)?

For the decade of the 1990s, we determined that the top five areas of civil side which saw the most amicus activity were tort, government and administrative, constitutional, civil procedure and insurance.  For the years 2000 through 2009, tort law narrowly led with 64 cases.  Sixty-one civil procedure cases produced briefs and 57 constitutional law cases did.  Forty-six employment law cases produced briefs and 45 government and administrative law cases did.  After that came insurance (31 cases), commercial law (21 cases), environmental law (13 cases), workers compensation (12 cases), domestic relations (10 cases) and tax law (9 cases).

Constitutional law led by a wide margin in overall amicus briefs with 284.  Tort law accounted for 230 briefs.  Civil procedure produced 208 briefs.  The remaining areas of law with three-digit totals of extra briefs for the decade were government and administrative law (188), employment law (171), commercial law (129) and insurance law (124).  Areas which had a significant balance of offensive amicus briefs supporting appellants were civil procedure (118-90), tort (136-94) and commercial law (88-41).  No areas had a significant balance of defensive briefs – the remaining areas were all more or less equally balanced between briefs supporting appellants and respondents.

Join us back here next time as we review the data in the criminal docket for the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Denise Olson (no changes).