Today, we’re wrapping up this phase of our review of the data on amicus briefs, looking at the criminal docket for the years 2010 through 2020.
For the past eleven years, constitutional law has drawn more amicus briefs than any other area of criminal law – 30 cases in all. Criminal procedure is right behind, with 28 cases. Sixteen sentencing cases and sixteen juvenile issues cases were next, then ten habeas cases. In single figures were violent crimes (9 cases), death penalty (8 cases), sexual offenses (6 cases), attorney discipline (2 cases) and mental health and political offenses (1 case apiece).
The areas of criminal law which attracted the most amicus briefs were criminal procedure (57 briefs), constitutional law (51), juvenile issues (31), sentencing law (28), habeas corpus (22), attorney discipline (18) and violent crimes (14).
For most areas of law, amicus briefs were predominantly offensive (supporting the appellant and attacking the Court of Appeal decision). This was true of criminal procedure (36 briefs for appellants, 21 for respondents), constitutional law (31 for appellants, 20 for respondents), juvenile issues (20 for appellants, 11 for respondents), sentencing law (22 for appellants, 6 for respondents), habeas corpus (16 for appellants, 6 for respondents), death penalty (8 for appellants, 0 for respondents) and political offenses (8 for appellants, 0 for respondents). The remainder were either evenly distributed – sexual offenses (4 for appellants, 4 for respondents) or predominantly defensive – attorney discipline (1 for appellants, 17 for respondents) and violent crimes (4 for appellants, 10 for respondents).
Join us back here next week as we continue our study.