• California Supreme Court,  e-Filing,  Legal Technology

    Mandatory e-filing in the California Supreme Court is imminent – learn the rules!

    The California Supreme Court adopted voluntary e-filing this summer, but e-filing will become mandatory on September 1, 2017. The court uses the TrueFiling system, which I have found to be rather user-friendly. The Supreme Court’s e-filing rules are available in PDF format on the court’s website, and they are extensive. Some highlights: [Added 9/6/17: do not rely on this summary to ensure your compliance with the rules. Reference the rules on the court’s website, which may change form time to time without such changes being noted in this blog post.] ?E-filing becomes mandatory on September 1, 2017, even for cases initiated prior to that date. (Rule 3(b).) ?As in many other courts, self-represented litigants are exempted from mandatory e-filing.…

  • California Supreme Court,  Death Penalty

    Will a death penalty initiative make it easier to obtain Supreme Court review of your civil case?

    Death penalty cases can be automatically appealed to the Supreme Court, but a mere civil litigant has to ask the supreme court — convince it, really — to review its case. The odds are terrible; only about 1 in 25 petitions for review succeeds. Those odds may be going up a little after this year. For the 2014-2015 term, death penalty cases made up nearly 18% of the court’s workload (13 death penalty decisions out of 73 majority opinions). What if all those death penalty cases went away? Would the court be able to take on more cases? It’s quite possible, according to an article by Ben Feuer and Ann-Rose Mathieson in he 2015 edition…

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court

    Insight into the Supreme Court’s decisions on whether to hear cases

    The Los Angeles Times has a story today on Justice Goodwin Liu, or, more particularly, on how his two recent lengthy dissents from orders denying review give some insight into what the court’s reasoning was. Usually, an order denying review is quite terse and gives no clue as to why the court reached its decision not to grant review. Justice Liu’s recent dissents, according to the article, shed some insight on the decision-making in those cases, but I’m afraid the article doesn’t do very well at explaining how. The passages it cites from the dissents demonstrate why Justice Liu was in favor of granting review by showing what he was thinking, but…

  • Announcements,  California Supreme Court,  Stare Decisis

    California Supreme Court invites your comment on proposed changes to publication rules involving cases accepted for review

    I expect that in this age of electronic research, most lawyers have experienced the frustration of finding the “perfect” case, only to learn it is unpublished and therefore could not be cited as precedent. (See rule 8.1115(a), Cal. Rules of Court.) Even in the “old days,” when research was limited to hard copy books, you could still find the perfect cases whisked out from under you, either because it was later disapproved or, more frustratingly, had been accepted for review by the Supreme Court, which has the effect of automatically de-publishing the case. (See rule 8.1105(e)(1), Cal. Rules of Court.) That may change. Yesterday, the Supreme Court posted for comment…

  • Blogging,  Blogroll,  California Supreme Court

    New blog to cover California Supreme Court

    I received an invitation yesterday afternoon to attend a reception to celebrate the launch of a new blog “focused on providing substantive coverage of issues concerning the Supreme Court of California,” and billed as a joint project of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law and the Hastings Law Journal: SCOCAblog. I don’t know if I was randomly chosen for an invitation or I was invited because I am a blogger on appellate issues. It’s nice to think it is the latter, and to think that maybe if I throw a link or two to SCOCAblog from time to time, the bloggers there might return the favor. Oddly, yesterday I…

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    Justice Kennard retiring April 5

    Justice Joyce Kennard has announced her retirement from the California Supreme Court effective April 5, on which she will mark the 25th anniversary of her appointment. The article at the San Francisco Chronicle gives people a glimpse into  Justice Kennard’s drive and perseverence: Kennard was born in the East Indies and, as a child, was held along with her mother in a refugee camp in Java during World War II. They moved to the Netherlands after the war, and as a teenager Kennard had a leg amputated above the knee after developing a tumor. She came to the United States in 1961, found work as a secretary, and put herself…

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court

    A Chief’s-eye view of the California Supreme Court

    Today marks the release of an interview-style memoir from former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, Chief: The Quest for Justice in California. A front-page article in today’s Los Angeles Times gives you a glimpse into a few themes in the 822-page book. One: a court funding crisis — though not of the same magnitude as the one faced today — was never far off at any given time: When Ronald M. George served as chief justice of California, he pleaded annually with legislators for money to run the courts, warning the loss of funds would compromise justice. But he said he learned that some lawmakers took positions on the budget…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  California Supreme Court

    Supreme Court reverses Kurwa v. Kislinger – there are limits to the manufacture of appellate jurisdiction

    Even most non-appellate lawyers are familiar with the “one final judgment rule,” under which a judgment is not appealable unless it disposes of all of the claims between the parties to the appeal. Plaintiffs who have had some (but not all) claims dismissed after a demurrer or summary adjudication either have to defer appellate review of the ruling until the remaining claims have been resolved, or dismiss the remaining claims with prejudice so as to create a judgment that disposes of all claims and is thus appealable. (Of course, the plaintiff also has the option of petitioning for writ relief from the summary adjudication order.) In Kurwa v. Kislinger (2013)…

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Courts,  California Supreme Court

    Some Highlights from the 2013 Court Statistics Report

    Would you like to know how busy Court of Appeal justices are? Maybe you’re curious instead about the odds of getting that writ petition you’re considering heard on the merits. Those curious about court statistics have a friend in the Judicial Council of California, which publishes annual statistical reports and has release its 2013 Court Statistics Report: Statewide Caseload Trends 2002–2003 through 2011–2012 (available as a PDF and in an MP3 audio format). The report covers data through the close of fiscal year 2012. (All references to years are to fiscal years.) I finally got a chance to look at it over the weekend, and here are a few of…

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    Riverside Appeals Court goes 3-for-3 with the Supremes

    That’s one of the interesting things you can learn from the chart that accompanies a front page article in yesterday’s Daily Journal. District 4, Division 2, sitting in Riverside, is one of only two divisions to have a perfect record on the review of its decisions by the California Supreme Court in the last twelve months. The other is First District, Division 1, which had only one case reviewed. Three divisions had no decisions reviewed by the Supreme Court in that period. While Division 2 in Riverside was batting a thousand, their Fourth District colleagues in Division 3 (Santa Ana), batted .ooo, getting reversed on all five cases reviewed from…

  • California Supreme Court,  Certified Questions,  Ninth Circuit,  Standing to Appeal

    California Supremes keep Ninth Circuit Prop 8 appeal alive

    The California Supreme Court’s much-anticipated opinion in Perry v. Brown was filed this morning. The court unanimously found that the Prop 8 proponents, who have a pending Ninth Circuit appeal from the federal district court decision finding the law unconstitutional, have standing to defend the law in court when the state attorney general refuses to do so. Answering certification of that question from the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court concludes its long (61-page) decision with an unequivocal “yes”: In response to the question submitted by the Ninth Circuit, we conclude, for the reasons discussed above, that when the public officials who ordinarily defend a challenged state law or appeal…

  • California Supreme Court

    Holiday Closure of Supreme Court’s Los Angeles Office

    Be very, very careful with California Supreme Court filings over the holidays.  The Los Angeles office of the Supreme Court be closed some of that time, requiring you to file in San Francisco.  To get the closure dates,  download the PDF of the announcement. By the way, the announcement also includes the news that the court’s L.A. office will also start closing for lunch between noon and 1 p.m. starting Monday, December 15, 2008.

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court

    Why Did the Supreme Court Punt on a Jurisdictional Issue?

    Regular readers know I am a jurisdiction geek, and today I get to sink my teeth into a jurisdictional oddity. Well, not a jurisdictional oddity so much as the odd behavior of the Supreme Court with respect to a jurisdictional question. I’ll get to the Supreme Court in a minute. First, a brief rundown on the issue from the case that led me to raise the question in the title to this post. In State of California ex rel Department of Pesticide Regulation v. Pet Food Express Limited, case no. C057156 (3d Dist. July 31, 2008), the court of appeal holds that an order enforcing an administrative subpoena is appealable.…

  • California Supreme Court,  Legal Writing,  U.S. Supreme Court

    A Supreme Editor is Needed

    Mister Thorne of the Set in Style blog likes to poke gentle fun at lawyers’ writing mistakes in order to remind us that we need editors as much as anyone, even though — in fact, because — we craft words for living. In this post, he links to a legal writing website that dissects eight grammatical errors in the recent SCOTUS gun rights case, D.C. v. Heller, and links to an ad soliciting an attorney editor for the California Supreme Court, placed in what I would have thought was a rather unconventional place, considering the job.

  • Appellate Procedure,  Briefing,  California Supreme Court,  Legal Technology

    E-Filing Briefs in the Supreme Court

    Rule 8.212, California Rules of Court was amended effective January 1, 2008 to allow parties to serve the Supreme Court electronically in lieu of physical service of four hard copies of briefs filed in the court of appeal, but the Supreme Court website did not appear to provide the promised information for doing so. That’s changed. You can now go here to start the electronic filing process for your brief. I haven’t tried it out with an actual brief yet, but it looks pretty straightforward. I’ll be able to try it out in a week or two and will report on it then. Hat Tip: Jeffrey Lewis at Nota Bene.

  • California Supreme Court,  Events

    Correction re: Live Coverage of Marriage Cases Oral Argument

    Thank you to alert commenter Stephen Ehat for pointing out an error in my post announcing television coverage of the marriage cases oral arguments before the California Supreme Court on March 4. I originally posted that the arguments would be taped for later broadcast, but they will actually be broadcast live. For details, see the announcement at the California Courts website.

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Family Law

    Televised Coverage and More Regarding Supreme Court Marriage Cases

    According to this link at the California Courts website, oral argument in six cases concerning the constitutionality of California’s marriage statutes will be televised on the California Channel shortly after they are heard on on March 4.  The court has also made many of the briefs available online, which you can access from the same link. UPDATE (2/27/08):  An alert commenter points out that the television broadcast will be live instead of delayed.

  • California Supreme Court

    Explicit Judicial Requests for Supreme Court Review

    Legal Pad highlights a couple of very recent cases, in which the published opinions explicitly urge the Supreme Court to reexamine an issue, in a post titled How Do You Make the Supremes Notice You? Do such explicit requests help the parties obtain review of the Court of Appeal judgment? The post turns to Santa Clara University School of Law Professor Gerald F. Uelmen for comment on that issue.

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Death Penalty

    Death Penalty Appeals to Shift from Supreme Court to Court of Appeal?

    Monday’s announcement that the Supreme Court is seeking a constitutional amendment to have death penalty appeals heard in the Courts of Appeal (press release here) has predictably triggered blog coverage. Legal Pad calls the announcement a “bombshell,” poses several questions regarding the potential impact of such an amendment, and seeks answers from their readers. Crime & Consequences questions whether the proposed summary affirmance procedure for the Supreme Court to affirm Court of Appeal dispositions is functionally any different from discretionary review. The first comment on the post questions the propriety of justices “publicly lobbying to modify their jurisdiction” because practitioners who appear before them will be hesitant to publicly oppose…

  • California Procedure,  California Supreme Court,  Evidence,  Expert Witnesses,  Torts

    Supreme Court Gets Rid of Conflicts by Dismissing Case

    Laura Ernde, a staff writer at the Daily Journal, alerted me to her piece in yesterday’s edition of that paper about last week’s dismissal of the Lockheed Litigation Cases, case no. S132167. According to her article, this was one of the oldest matters on the court’s docket and the dismissal comes more than two years after briefing was complete. The dismissal apparently arises out of conflicts of interest. According to the article, four of the seven justices had recused themselves from these five consolidated toxic tort cases because they owned stock in at least one of the oil company defendants. The Supreme Court’s actual order is not posted as a…

  • Appeals,  Appellate Procedure,  California Court of Appeal,  California Supreme Court

    Consumer Attorneys Sue Supreme Court over Case Publication Rules

    Newport Beach personal injury firm Bisnar | Chase announced on its California Injury Blog that it has filed suit against the California Supreme Court and a district of the Court of Appeal. While not 100% clear from the post, it appears that the firm is representing a personal injury client who alleges his due process and equal protection rights were violated by the Court of Appeal’s failure to publish its decision reversing a judgment after jury verdict in his favor against Southern California Edison. Specifically, it appears the Court of Appeal — presuming I tracked down the right decision on Westlaw — reversed the award because it found as a…

  • California Supreme Court,  Constitutional Law,  Judges,  Ninth Circuit

    California Supreme Court to the Ninth: Can’t You Read?

    Back in August, I covered the case of Fantasyland Video v. County of San Diego, case no. 05-56026 (9th Cir. Aug. 7, 2007), in which the Ninth asked the California Supreme Court to answer a certified question asking for the standard of review to apply to the constitutionality (under the California Constitution) of hours-of-operation restrictions on “adult entertainment establishments.” The Ninth appeared to be telling the California Supreme Court that its jurisprudence on the issue is, shall we say, less than crystal clear. I wrote: Another thing I like about this request from the Ninth Circuit is that it doesn’t claim there are no California cases on point. It says…

  • California Courts,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    Chief Justice George’s State of the Judiciary Address

    Chief Justice George’s 12th annual address on the state of the judiciary, given at last week’s state bar conference, is available through the California Courts website. The transcript of his address is here. If you’d like to read a synopsis before (or instead of) reading the transcript, a PDF download of the post-address press release is available here.

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Supreme Court,  Judges

    2007 Annual Report on Judicial Branch

    This press release (PDF dowload) from the Judicial Council of California announces the release of its 2007 Annual Report (PDF Download). [The report is] a summary of the judicial branch’s significant progress and challenges in improving court administration and equal access for all Californians.  *** The report highlights the branch’s efforts, in cooperation with the legislative and executive branches of state government, to improve service to the public and describes key trends in court caseloads and workloads.

  • Appellate Procedure,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court,  Federal Courts,  Federal Procedure,  Ninth Circuit,  Standard of Review

    Adult Bookstore Case Results in Certified Question to State Supreme Court

    Under rule 8.548(a), California Rules of Court, a Federal Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, or the court of last resort of another state may ask the California Supreme Court to answer a question of California law where “(1) The decision could determine the outcome of a matter pending in the requesting court; and (2) There is no controlling precedent.”  Most lawyers are already familiar with this procedure, at least in principle. What gives a special appellate twist to Fantasyland Video v. County of San Diego, case no. 05-56026  (August 7, 2007) is that the Ninth Circuit asks the California Supreme Court to specify the standard of review to…

  • Appellate Jurisdiction,  Appellate Procedure,  California Court of Appeal,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court,  Notice of Appeal

    Will the Supreme Court Revisit Clemmer v. Hartford Insurance Company?

    Probably no Supreme Court opinion has been more ignored by the Courts of Appeal than Clemmer v. Hartford Insurance Co. (1978) 22 Cal.3d 865.  In Clemmer, the Supreme Court concluded, without explanation, that an order denying a motion made pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 663 to vacate the judgment and enter a new judgment is not appealable and dismissed the appeal.  Because it reached this conclusion without explanation, despite precedent to the contrary, and because the dismissal had no procedural effect (the issues raised were heard on appeal from the underlying judgment), this conclusion in Clemmer has been characterized as dictum and has generally not been followed. See…

  • California Court of Appeal,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court

    2007 California Court Statistics Report Now Available

    The 2007 Court Statistics Report: Statewide Caseload Trends, 1996-1997 through 2005-2006 from the Judicial Council of California is now available for download here.  This 156-page report has all sorts of interesting statistics on activity in the courts.  What percentage of petitions for review are granted by the Supreme Court?  What percentage of writ petitions are summarily denied?  What percentage of appeals result in reversal?  How many traffic misdemeanor cases were filed in 2005-2006?  For answers to these and other questions over the most recent 10-year period for which statistics are available, download the report.

  • Appellate Procedure,  Briefing,  California Supreme Court


    This article at Law.com discusses the unusually heavy participation of amici curiae in the pending Supreme Court case of North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. Superior Court (Benitez), case no. S142892.  Forty organizations have filed amicus briefs, either individually or jointly.  As one might expect, the issue is hot-button: were doctors within their rights to deny, on the basis of their religious beliefs, artificial insemination to a lesbian? Anyway, this got me to thinking . . . what is the record for the number of amicus briefs (or the number of amicus curiae, regardless of the number of actual briefs) in a California Supreme Court case?  This case has…

  • Appellate Procedure,  Briefing,  California Procedure,  California Supreme Court,  Rehearing

    California Supremes on the Right to Rehearing on Unbriefed Issues

    When is a party entitled to a rehearing from the Court of Appeal?  One such case — where the decision is based on an issue the parties did not have an opportunity to brief — is codified at Government Code section 68081: Before the Supreme Court, a court of appeal, or the appellate division of a superior court renders a decision in a proceeding other than a summary denial of a petition for an extraordinary writ, based upon an issue which was not proposed or briefed by any party to the proceeding, the court shall afford the parties an opportunity to present their views on the matter through supplemental briefing. …