Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Court Filings Down, but Felonies, Mental Health Cases Continue to Rise—Judicial Council Report
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Filings in the California superior courts decreased in Fiscal Year 2011–2012 but remain unchanged over a 10-year period, according to a report released yesterday by the California Judicial Council.
The annual Court Statistics Report, available on the state courts website, says there were 8.5 million case filings for the year, down 9.8 percent from FY 2010-2011. But most of the decline was in the simplest types of cases—misdemeanors and infractions, and small claims and limited jurisdiction civil cases. Felony filings increased slightly, and filings in mental health cases increased by 11 percent, which represents a growing caseload for those case types over the last 10 years, the report said.
The chair of a major Judicial Council committee said it was too soon to draw conclusions about what the statistics mean in the context of the courts’ future.
“The Court Statistics Report is a useful reference document that provides an annual snapshot of statewide filings data and indicates multi-year trends,” Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Douglas Miller, chair of the Executive and Planning Committee, said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.
“The raw data raises questions that require more in-depth analysis before drawing any conclusions,” Miller continued. “Although we’re uncertain about the conclusions, council members and our justice system partners are certain about how budget cuts have affected the public and have impacted access to justice—including reduced hours and closed courtrooms, fewer law enforcement officers on the street, and the reallocation of resources to focus on certain case types or services.”
Highlights of the report include:
•The state Supreme Court issued 87 written opinions during the fiscal year, 29 of them in death penalty cases. There were 18 death penalty appeals filed during that period.
•Nearly 22,000 contested matters were filed in the Court of Appeal, specifically 13,498 appeals with records and 8,396 original proceedings. A total of 24,215 matters—15,531 appeals and 8,684 original proceedings—were disposed of, including 10,097 appeals with written opinions, 3,485 appeals without written opinions, 1,949 appeals without a record filed, 572 original proceedings with written opinions, and 8,112 original proceedings without written opinion.
Eight percent of majority opinions were published.
•Superior court case filings across all case categories totaled 8,498,331. A total of 10,006 jury trials and 467,649 court trials were recorded across all case types, including 196,994 unlimited jurisdiction civil cases; 603,097 limited civil cases; 183,957 small claims cases; 243,270 felony cases; 1,047,594 misdemeanor cases; 5,607,727 infraction accusations; 160,593 marital cases; 277,207 other family law cases; 62,937 juvenile delinquency matters; 39,040 dependency cases; 5,008 appeals; 8,483 habeas corpus petitions; 19,643 mental health matters; and 42,781 probate matters.
•A total of 10,007 jury trials were recorded across all case types. Jury trials held in the superior courts included 5,300 felony; 3,002 misdemeanor; 1,172 civil unlimited; 509 civil limited; and 24 probate and mental health cases.
•A total of 467,649 court trials were recorded across all case types, excluding small claims. These included 615 felony; 368,093 misdemeanor and infraction; 23,323 civil unlimited,; 47,330 civil limited; and 28,288 probate and mental health cases. A total of 111,963 small claims court trials were recorded.
•The Los Angeles Superior Court recorded 2,524,252 case filings of all types, an average of 4,306 per fulltime judicial officer, ranking 17th among the 58 counties. Dispositions totaled 2,534,267, or 4,245 per fulltime judicial officer, ranking 14th.
•A total of 104,969 court trials were held in Los Angeles County, not including small claims. Thirty of these were in felony cases; 72,502 in misdemeanors and infractions; 181 in unlimited jurisdiction personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death cases; 4,972 in other unlimited civil cases; 15,241 in limited civil cases; and 12,043 in probate and mental health cases.
•There were 3,212 jury trials in the county, including 1,911 in felony cases; 678 for misdemeanors; 317 in unlimited jurisdiction personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death cases; 161 in other unlimited civil cases; and 145 in limited civil cases. There were no probate or mental health jury trials.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company