Retired appellate lawyer Jon Eisenberg writes in today’s Daily Journal that the Supreme Court “has been far less productive in 2011–2022 than in the previous decade.” He calls it “a quiet but precipitous court-wide decline in productivity” that “means more lingering issues of statewide importance and more unresolved conflicts in the California Courts of Appeal — and thus more uncertainty in the law, more wasteful litigation, and less confident advice to clients.”

Relying on the Judicial Council’s annual Court Statistics Reports, Eisenberg says “yearly output of written opinions plummeted an alarming 61% from fiscal year 2005–2006 to fiscal year 2021–2022,” “[g]rants of petitions for review likewise fell, from a median of 86 grants in 2000–2010 to a median of just 59 grants in 2011–2021,” and “the court has been taking substantially longer to decide cases.”

We found that, for at least one fiscal year (2018–2019), the Judicial Council report substantially undercounted petition for review grants. (The Supreme Court granted review in a lot more than 14 cases in 12 months.)

The total number of opinions the Supreme Court is expected to file in its current term will be quite low, probably only 48. Eisenberg says that “the court’s yearly opinion filings steadily declined from a high of 98 opinions in fiscal year 2010–2011 to a low of 59 opinions in fiscal year 2020–2021, with the median at 85 opinions,” while for 20000–2010, “the court’s yearly opinion filings ranged from a high of 125 opinions to a low of 96 opinions, with the median at 116 opinions.” [Note: I prefer to look at the number of opinions for a court term, i.e., opinions filed in cases argued from September through the following June (the court doesn’t hear arguments in July and August) instead of for fiscal years, i.e., opinions filed in July through the following June, as the Judicial Council reports do. However, numbers for the two different periods (terms and fiscal years) are comparable.]


Supreme Court statistics

The Supreme Court doesn’t decide all important issues

Disapprovals of review-denied opinions show the Supreme Court is not an error-correction court