Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Report Shows Increase in Superior Court Workloads
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Filings in “high workload” cases in the state’s superior courts—including felonies, probate and mental health cases, and dependency cases—are increasing, the Judicial Council said in its annual Court Statistics Report.
The constitutionally mandated report covers filings at every level of the court system for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2014. Felony filings increased by 4 percent in that period, while filings involving mental health were up 9 percent, probate filings were up 7 percent, and dependency filings were up 4 percent.
Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Douglas Miller, chair of the Judicial Council’s Executive and Planning Committee, said the increase has significance for the courts.
“While overall trial court filings are down again this year, the decline has lessened, and we continue to see an increase in the case types that require more staff time and resources to process and adjudicate,” he said. “This annual report provides valuable information to all three branches of government, because the filings statistics will help us make decisions on where to devote our limited resources.”
Total state court filings of 7.5 million represent an overall decrease of 3 percent, a much smaller decline than in the previous two years. Two years earlier the number of filings was just under 8.5 million, and the year before that it was around 9.3 million.
As in previous years, most of the decline occurred in case types once handled by municipal courts—misdemeanors and infractions, and small claims and limited jurisdiction civil cases.
The report, available on the state courts website, provides detailed statewide caseload data for the fiscal year, along with 10-year trend data on a wide range of court business in the Supreme Court of California and Court of Appeal, as well as in the trial courts of all 58 counties.
Among the data reported:
•The Supreme Court issued 85 written opinions, 26 in death penalty cases. Filings totaled 7,907 and dispositions totaled 7,745. There were 19 new death penalty appeals filed.
•The Supreme Court ordered 6 Court of Appeal opinions depublished.
•Total contested matters for the Court of Appeal totaled 20,198, including 7,016 original proceedings. A total of 22,172 matters were disposed of, including 7,171 were original proceedings.
•A total of 9,592 appeals were disposed of by written opinion, 3,642 without a written opinion, and 1,764 without a record. Dispositions of original proceedings by written opinion totaled 501, and original proceedings disposed of without written opinion totaled 6,577.
Statewide, 8 percent of Court of Appeal majority opinions were published.
•A total of 9,900 jury trials and 472,763 court trials were recorded across all case types statewide.
•Civil filings totals statewide included 193,190 unlimited civil; 486,597 limited civil; and 155,428 small claims cases. Criminal filings included 272,610 felony, 915,568 misdemeanor, and 4,907,906 infraction cases.
There were 138,968 marital and 242,518 other family law filings. The juvenile courts saw about 90,000 filings, about equally divided between delinquency ad dependency cases.
There were 4,317 appeals, 7,410 habeas corpus petitions, 27,377 mental health cases, and 44,298 probate cases filed.
•The Los Angeles Superior Court recorded 2,183,611 case filings of all types, an average of 3,731 per fulltime judicial officer, ranking 17th among the 58 counties. Dispositions totaled 2,198,660 or 3,852 per fulltime judicial officer, ranking 10th.
•A total of 89,788 court trials were held in Los Angeles County, not including small claims. Fifty-six of these were in felony cases; 58,304 in misdemeanors and infractions; 83 in unlimited jurisdiction personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death cases; 8,942 in other unlimited civil cases; 8,113 in limited civil cases; and 14,290 in probate and mental health cases.
•There were 3,048 jury trials in the county, including 2,006 in felony cases; 571 for misdemeanors; 276 in unlimited jurisdiction personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death cases; 122 in other unlimited civil cases; and 73in limited civil cases. There were no probate or mental health jury trials.
•The Los Angeles Superior Court has converted 44 subordinate judicial officer positions to judgeships. A maximum of 34 more may be converted in the coming years.
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company