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Between 2000 and 2009, appellants’ amici wrote 141 amicus briefs while respondents’ amici wrote 90.  The margin in winning percentage between the two sides was almost exactly the same as on the civil side.  Appellants’ amici won 68.09% of the time, while respondents’ amici won 43.33% of their cases. Leaving aside the minor players – one appellants’ amici each in property crimes, violent crimes, driving offenses and financial crimes and four in cases involving drug offenses – the leading area of law was habeas corpus, where 92.31% of appellants’ amici wound up on the winning side.  Appellants’ amici in sentencing…
This week, we’re reviewing data for civil cases between 2000 and 2009, looking at two questions: are amicus briefs supporting appellants or respondents more often on the winning side; and in which areas of law do appellants’ and respondents’ amici have the best (and worst) winning percentages? For the years 2000 through 2009, 951 amicus briefs were filed supporting appellants and 788 were filed supporting respondents.  Appellants’ amici won 63.09% of their cases, while respondents’ amici won only 39.85%. Leaving aside three successful appellants’ amici in wills and estates law, the leading areas for appellants were arbitration (92.59% winning percentage),…
With few exceptions, it’s remained true since 2005 that somewhere between one in four and one in five criminal cases at the California Supreme Court have at least one amicus brief.  In 2005, 22.95% of the cases had one.  That rose to 24.59% in 2009 and 24.68% in 2012.  The percentage dropped off a bit to 21.82% in 2014 and 20.45% the following year.  But over the past two years, as filings in civil cases were dropping a bit, criminal cases have ticked up slightly – 24.39% in 2019 and 28.57% in 2020. Appellants received an average of 0.21 briefs…
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…
This week, we’re looking at the relationship between lag time – the number of days from the grant of review by the Supreme Court to the final decision – and the result in the case.  One might expect that lag time has very little relationship to the case result – surely it’s determined by the complexity of the issues and facts and the Court’s caseload.  But is that really true? In fact, there is a moderately strong relationship between lag time and result in civil cases: affirmances were pending longer in 7 of the past 10 years.  In many years,…
This time, we’re comparing the lag time from grant to decision in criminal cases to the ultimate case result.  In order not to bias the data, we begin by eliminating the death penalty and habeas corpus cases, where the determinants of lag time are quite different than non-death criminal cases. Once again, there is a strong relationship between the lag time and the ultimate case result: in eight of the past ten years, affirmances have been pending longer in criminal cases than reversals.  In 2011, affirmances averaged 644.67 days to 488.93 for reversals.  In 2014, affirmances averaged 699.38 days to…
Last time, we reviewed the Court’s civil cases, asking whether divided decisions from the Court of Appeal were more likely to be reversed in whole or in part than unanimous ones.  This time, we’re turning our attention to the criminal cases and finding a very different result. In only four of the past thirty-one years were unanimous criminal decisions from the Court of Appeal more frequently reversed than decisions with a dissent.  In most years, the numbers weren’t at all close (see 1991 – 75% divided cases reversed, 12.9% unanimous ones, 2003 – 80% to 24.14%, 2007 – 60% to…
Two weeks ago, we addressed the question of how common cases with a dissent at the Court of Appeal were on the Supreme Court’s docket.  Our analysis illuminated the issue of whether it’s true that there’s no point in pursuing a petition for review from a unanimous Court of Appeal decision. This week, we’re digging a bit deeper on a related question: are divided decisions from the Court of Appeal more frequently reversed?  The result might help us choose between two possibilities about divided Court of Appeal decisions that wind up at the Supreme Court: does the Court take them…
Last time, we reviewed the share of the Supreme Court’s civil caseload made up of decisions with a dissenter at the Court of Appeal.  Now let’s look at the criminal cases. It turns out dissenters are even less important on the criminal side.  In 1990, only 1.25% of the criminal docket had a dissenter below.  The share rose to 10% by 1993, but immediately fell back into single digits for five of the next six years.  The share of cases with dissents below rose slightly in the decade following; between 2000 and 2009, the share was between ten and twenty…
Last week we looked at the frequently heard claim that getting Supreme Court review of an unpublished decision of the Court of Appeal is a hopeless task.  This week, we’re looking at a similar bit of conventional wisdom – the Supreme Court doesn’t review unanimous decisions from the Court of Appeal. In the table below, we report the year-by-year percentage of the Court’s civil decisions which had a dissenter at the Court of Appeal.  In other words, if it’s true that the Court doesn’t review unanimous decisions, we would expect the graph line to be at or near 100% every…