Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, September 30, 2011


Page 1


Supreme Court Releases Annual Workload Statistics


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The California Supreme Court has released its annual workload statistics for the period from Sept. 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2011, the official court year for statistical purposes.

Reflecting the changes in personnel on the court and the period without a permanent justice, the number of opinions issued by the court decreased from 105 last year to 86 in 2010-2011. The continuing one-day-per-month furlough for court employees, imposed to assist the court in coping with decreases to its budget, may also have had an impact, court officials reported on Wednesday.

During the same period, the total number of petitions for review and filings in original proceedings grew less than one percent, while total dispositions increased by 15.5 percent.

In the 2010-2011 court year, the Supreme Court filed opinions in a total of 86 cases, of which 35 involved civil cases, 23 involved noncapital criminal cases, 26 resolved automatic appeals arising from judgments of death, and an additional two resolved habeas corpus petitions relating to death penalty judgments. The number of opinions filed in death penalty appeals was three more than had been filed in the previous year, while the number for civil cases was down by seven; for noncapital criminal cases, down by 14; and for habeas corpus petitions relating to death penalty judgments, down by one.

In addition to the opinions filed in the 2010-2011 court year, the court acted by order upon 26 petitions for writ of habeas corpus relating to death penalty judgments, 4 fewer than last year.

Total filings during this period increased from 9,917 in 2009-2010, to 10,007 in 2010-2011, the second time filings have exceeded 10,000, in the past decade.

Filings in original proceedings stayed essentially the same, decreasing by 12 from 3,756 2009-2010 to 3,744 in 2010-2011. Filings of petitions for review declined 4 percent from 5,110, in 2010-2011 to 4892, or 218 fewer. The balance of filings consisted of State Bar-related matters and death penalty matters. Filings in State Bar matters in which memoranda are prepared for the court increased in two categories: matters in which individuals whose complaints to the State Bar have been terminated without action seek review by the court and resignations with charges pending. Civil petitions for review increased slightly from 1,219 to 1221. Criminal petitions for review decreased by 5.7 percent from 3,891 to 3,617.

Original habeas corpus petitions in noncapital matters and petitions for review in these matters have comprised one of the fastest growing areas in the courtís workload over the past decade. The number of noncapital original criminal habeas corpus petitions filed has increased more than 24 percent, from 2,657 in 1999-2000 to nearly 3,300 in 2009-2010. Petitions held relatively steady this past year, 2010-2011, decreasing from 3,298 to 3,279.

In the 2010-2011 court year, the court disposed of 10,521 petitions for review, petitions in original proceedings, and actions arising out of State Bar Court disciplinary proceedings. That amounts to a total of 1,414 more matters than were disposed of in the 2009-2010 court year. The disposition of petitions for review increased by 2.4 percent, or 120, from 4,919 to 5.039.

The number of dispositions in original proceedings increased substantially, from 3,211 in 2009-2010 to 4,041, an increase of 26 percent, reflecting the courtís focus on disposing of a substantial number of older noncapital habeas corpus petitions. Criminal original proceeding dispositions increased by 831 from a total of 2,968 in 2009-2010 to 3,799 in 2010-2011. Dispositions in civil original proceedings remained stable, decreasing by a single case. Another substantial increase occurred in attorney discipline dispositions, which rose from 977 to 1,441 in 2010-2011, or an increase of 47 percent. Although not all of these matters result in a substantial conference memorandum, the number of matters in which such memoranda were provided increased significantly.


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