September 24, 2010

More Supreme Court statistics

A few days ago, we analyzed data about the Supreme Court in the Judicial Council’s recent Court Statistics Report. We have since noticed that, a month later and less than two weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued its own annual report (or, at least, a news release about the report) on workload statistics. The numbers in the Supreme Court’s report are fresher than the Judicial Council’s report – the Judicial Council report covers fiscal year 2008-2009 while the Supreme Court’s report discusses the period from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2010 – but not as comprehensive.

In our earlier post, we wondered whether the record low in petition for review grants during 2008-2009 would affect the court’s opinion output. There is no definite answer yet, but there has been a slight decrease. The Supreme Court report states that the court issued 105 opinions in 2009-2010, five less than the previous year. (Professor Uelmen’s article, cited in our earlier post, counted 96 opinions in fiscal year 2009-2010. The discrepancy is apparently because the article covers activity from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, starting and ending two months earlier than the Supreme Court’s reporting period.)

The Supreme Court report unfortunately does not say whether the dramatic drop-off in petition for review grants in 2008-2009 was an aberration or might be the new norm. The report tells the combined total number of dispositions of petitions for review, petitions in original proceedings, and actions arising out of State Bar Court disciplinary proceedings (9,107, down over 5 percent) and also notes that total filings increased a bit (to 9,556), but it doesn’t say how many petitions for review the court granted.

The report does confirm, however, that use of the power to depublish Court of Appeal opinions has fallen out of favor. We noted that the Judicial Council had reported a record low of 13 depublication orders in fiscal year 2008-2009. Well, there’s apparently a new record. For 2009-2010, the Supreme Court reports having depublished only four opinions.

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