Today we’re beginning a series of posts examining the declining dockets at the Court of Appeal and assessing the impact on the Supreme Court’s work.

Below, we report the District-by-District new Notices of Appeal numbers (civil, criminal and juvenile) for the years 1996 through 2000.  All data comes from the California Courts Court Statistics Reports, which are available on the California Courts website.

Filings were comparatively steady in the First District.  In Judicial Year 1995-1996, there were 2,864 new Notices of Appeal.  That dropped to 2,726 in 1997 and 2,671 in 1998, but recovered to 2,698 in 1999 and 2,716 in 2000.  Filings in the Second District increased from 1996 (6,548 new Notices of Appeal) to 1998 (6,709), but then dropped fairly sharply, to 6,262 in 1999 and 6,284 in 2000.  Filings in the Third District were almost completely flat from 1996 to 1999 before dropping slightly in 2000.  The story was the same in the Fourth District – filings flat from 1996 to 1998, then a drop from 4,604 in 1998 to 4,485 in 1999 and 4,284 in 2000.  New Notices of Appeal in the Fifth and Sixth Districts remained at approximately the same level each year from 1996 to 2000.

Next time we’ll take a look at the data for new original proceedings for the same years.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Malcolm Carlaw (no changes).

This time, we’re measuring the length of Supreme Court review in civil cases by an alternative measure – the average number of days from the close of briefing to oral argument.  One caveat – this data set runs from the close of all briefing – including amici and any supplemental briefs – to oral argument.  Accordingly, the numbers can be skewed at least a bit if an amicus happens to appear at the last moment, or in the very rare cases where the Court requests supplemental briefing just before oral argument.

Overall, the number has been relatively steady since 1990.  We begin in 1990 with 228.6 days.  From 1993 through 1998, the number dipped below 200.  The average wait reached 297.4 days by 206 and bounced around in the mid-200s for the rest of the decade.  Lag time reached 385.5 days in 2017.  In 2018, it fell all the way to 233.5 days.  In 2019, the average wait for argument was 244.3 days.  There was a one-year increase in 2020 to 342.6 days before the average wait settled back down again to 250.9 days in 2021 and 254.1 days in 2022.

Join us back here next time as we turn our attention to a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Alex Beattie (no changes).

Today, we’re looking at a new topic, tracking the average time Supreme Court review takes for civil cases.  In this and the following post, we measure the lag time in two ways: below, from the grant of review to oral argument, and in the next post, from the close of briefing to argument.

We report the data from grant of review to argument in Table 1520 below.  We begin in 1990 at 449.6 days.  The average dips a bit from there, remaining in the 300s from 1993 through 1998 before increasing to the mid-400s for the six years following.  By 2005, Supreme Court review was up to 532.8 days, and it remained in that neighborhood until 2010.  By 2014, the average length of review had reached 609.4 days, and with the exception of 2019 and 2022 (so far), it has remained in the 600s ever since.  In 2018, the average civil case lasted 660.2 days.  In 2019, the number dipped to 583, but in 2020, it was back to 638.7.  In 2021, cases averaged 607.3 days.  Year-to-date in 2022, the average case is taking, from grant to oral argument, 586.8 days.

Next up: average length of cases measured from the end of briefing through oral argument.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Laila Goubran (no changes).

Turning finally to the Sixth District, according to the 2020 census, Santa Clara County was 73.17% of the population.  Monterey County accounted for 16.59% of the population among the three counties contributing cases to the docket and Santa Cruz was 10.24%.

Santa Clara County had cases on the Supreme Court’s civil docket in seven of the ten years of the decade – a total of thirteen cases in all.  Monterey County had only three cases for the decade and Santa Cruz County contributed only one.

Join us back here next week as we begin our analysis of a new topic.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Charlie Day (no changes).

With this post, we turn our attention to the Fifth District.  Fresno (33.63%) and Kern counties (30.31%) comprise a large slice of the District’s population.  Stanislaus County is 18.43%, Tulare is 15.77% and Tuolumne County is 1.85%.

Fifth District civil cases were relatively uncommon on the Court’s docket between 2010 and 2019.  Fresno County had five cases.  Kern County had only two.  Stanislaus County had two and Tuolumne had one.

Next up – we wrap up this multi-part post with a review of the data for the Sixth District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Sergei Gussev (no changes).

The Fourth District is almost equally divided between three counties – San Diego (29.28%), Orange (28.29%) and Riverside (21.47%).  San Bernardino County accounts for 19.37% of the population and Imperial County is 1.6%.

San Diego County had 24 cases for the decade, sending cases to the Supreme Court’s civil docket in nine of ten years.  Orange County had twenty cases.  Riverside County had 11.  San Bernardino County accounted for seven cases and Imperial County contributed one.

Next up: the Fifth District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Eric Chan (no changes).

According to the 2020 census, Sacramento County accounted for 52.94% of the population of the Third District.  San Joaquin County was 26.02%.  Yolo was 7.23%, Butte County was 7.07%, Shasta County had 6.08% and Plumas County was 0.66% of the District.

During the decade, Sacramento County produced 11 cases for the Supreme Court’s civil docket.  San Joaquin County had three cases and the remaining counties – Yolo, Shasta, Butte and Plumas – had one case apiece.


Next up, the Fourth District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Bureau of Land Management, California (no changes).

As we’ve discussed before, Los Angeles County accounts for nearly all of the population in the Second District.  According to the 2020 census, the population of LA County was 10,014,009 – 86.41% of the Second District.  Ventura County was 7.28%, Santa Barbara was 3.87% and San Luis Obispo accounted for 2.44%.

Nearly all of the Second District cases on the Court’s civil docket in the past decade came from Los Angeles County – 128 in all.  Three cases were from Ventura County, Santa Barbara produced two cases and San Luis Obispo County had one.

Next up, the Third District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by faungg’s photos (no changes).

Alameda County remained the biggest county in the First District according to the 2020 census, accounting for 29.56% of the population in the First District.  Contra Costa was next, with 20.49% of the District.  San Francisco was third at 15.36% and San Mateo was right behind at 13.43%.  Sonoma had 8.59%, Solano was 7.97% and Marin County was 4.61%.

As in previous decades, the case distribution did not closely follow the population distribution.  San Francisco had twenty cases on the Supreme Court’s civil docket.  Alameda had fourteen.  Marin County produced six cases, Contra Costa had only three.  San Mateo County produced two cases and Sonoma and Solano counties had one each.

Next up: the Second District.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Alejandro de la Cruz (no changes).

Finally, we reach the final part of this second series of our multi-part post on the geographic origins of the Court’s civil docket.

Santa Clara accounts for 72.45% of the population in the counties with cases on the civil docket in the 00s.  Monterey was 16.88% and Santa Cruz was 10.67%.

Santa Clara had cases on the civil docket in seven of ten years, accounting for 16 cases in all.  Monterey had only four cases and Santa Cruz had two.

Next time, we’ll begin our final part, reviewing the data for the decade 2010 through 2019.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Emmanuel Dyan (no changes).