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What Kinds of Cases Does the California Supreme Court Review?

After you present your case at trial and receive a ruling from the judge, you may be disappointed to learn that the judge did not decide in your favor. If you disagree with the judge’s ruling, you may want to seek review through the Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. A skilled and knowledgeable appellate attorney from Evans Kingsbury LLP can assess your case, describe your viable alternatives, and assist you in making an informed choice about your path forward. Call our office today at (707) 596-6090 and set up a time to discuss your potential appeal.

How Cases Reach the California Supreme Court

Most lawsuits begin in local trial courts, also known as Superior Courts, which are in all counties in the state. The Superior Courts handle all types of criminal and civil cases. The state’s six Courts of Appeal hear appeals of trial court judgments.

Once a Court of Appeal has issued a decision in the case, if a party wishes further review by a higher court, he or she must file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review decisions of the Courts of Appeal, but it does so on a very limited, discretionary basis. The only exception is death penalty cases, which the Supreme Court must review. There is no legal right under state law to have your civil case reviewed by the Supreme Court.

As a result, of the thousands of cases that wind their way through the state court system each year, the California Supreme Court issues only about 85 to 115 court decisions annually. Although litigants file more than 10,000 petitions for review in the Supreme Court each year, it grants less than five percent of those petitions.

Subject Matter of Cases Before the California Supreme Court

The responsibility of the California Supreme Court is to decide important questions of law and to maintain statewide uniformity of decisions among the Courts of Appeal. Therefore, the Supreme Court only will review cases that meet one or both of those standards. Generally, the Supreme Court hears only those cases it considers to be of state-wide importance. If different Courts of Appeal have reached conflicting decisions in similar cases, the Supreme Court may also consider cases which resolve those conflicts.

The Supreme Court also reviews decisions concerning removal or suspension of attorneys and judges for misconduct, from the State Bar of California and the Commission on Judicial Performance. Finally, the Court may also review decisions of the Public Utilities Commission.

If the California Supreme Court Denies Your Petition for Review

If you have filed a petition for review and the Supreme Court denies it, you have no further appeals available in your case. The decision of the Court of Appeal will remain in place.

If the California Supreme Court Grants Your Petition for Review

If you have filed a petition for review and the Supreme Court grants it, one of two situations may occur. First, the Court may permit the parties to file briefs on the case’s merits. The Court may even specify which issues the parties should address or instruct them to address additional issues not previously raised by the parties.

Alternatively, the Court may issue a “grant and hold” order. This type of order grants a review of your case. However, it defers briefing until the Court decides another relevant case that is already being considered by the Court. This kind of case is sometimes called a “lead” case. After deciding the lead case, the Supreme Court will either have the parties file briefs, retain the case to issue an opinion, transfer the case back to the Court of Appeal to consider in light of its opinion in the lead case, or dismiss the case. If the issue is one not considered by the Court of Appeal, the case will usually be remanded back to the Court of Appeal for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s holding.

Once briefs are filed, the Supreme Court will schedule the case for oral arguments. The Court then will issue a written opinion within 90 days of oral arguments being held.

Relay on Evans Kingsbury LLP, to Assist You with Your Appeal

An appeals lawyer at Evans Kingsbury LLP stands ready to discuss your options for appealing your court decision or seeking legal recourse. We have the skill and experience necessary to properly advise you of your options, answer your questions, and give you a realistic picture of what you can expect. With an experienced appellate attorney on your side, you can ensure that your legal interests are protected through the appellate process. Contact us by calling (707) 596-6090 or finding us online today.

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