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The Supreme Court of California is the
highest and final court of appeals
highest and final court of appeals
in the
courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, govern ...
of the
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a W ...
of
California California is a in the . With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the and the U.S. state by area. It is also the in North America and the in the world. The area and the are the nation's second and ...

California
. It resides primarily in
San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in Northern Calif ...

San Francisco
at the
Earl Warren Building The Earl Warren Building located at 350 McAllister Street in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San F ...
, but it regularly holds sessions in
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
and
Sacramento ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...

Sacramento
. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts. Since 1850, the court has issued many influential decisions in a variety of areas including
tort A tort, in jurisdiction, is a (other than ) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, financial losses, ...

tort
s,
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , , , , , , or ...
,
civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for independent journalism *Civilian, someone not a member ...
and
constitutional right A constitutional right can be a prerogative or a duty, a power or a restraint of power, recognized and established by a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereign ...
s, and
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environ ...
.


Composition

Under the original 1849
California Constitution The Constitution of California ( es, Constitución del Estado de California) is the primary organizing law for the U.S. state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents ...
, the Court started with a chief justice and two associate justices. The Court was expanded to five justices in 1862. Under the current 1879 constitution, the Court expanded to six associate justices and one chief justice, for the current total of seven. The justices are appointed by the
Governor of California The governor of California is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or ...
and are subject to
retention election A judicial retention election (or retention referendum) is a periodic process in some jurisdictions whereby a judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a Judicial panel, pane ...
s. According to the California Constitution, to be considered for appointment, as with any California judge, a person must be an attorney admitted to practice in California or have served as a judge of a California court for 10 years immediately preceding the appointment. To fill a vacant position, the Governor must first submit a candidate's name to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation of the State Bar of California, which prepares and returns a thorough, confidential evaluation of the candidate. Next, the Governor officially nominates the candidate, who must then be evaluated by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of the
Chief Justice of California The Supreme Court of California is the highest and final court in the courts of the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Cont ...
, the
Attorney General of California The Attorney General of California is the state attorney general The state attorney general in each of the 50 U.S. states, of the District of Columbia, federal district, or of any of the Territories of the United States, territories is the chie ...
, and a senior presiding justice of the
California Courts of Appeal The California Courts of Appeal are the state intermediate appellate courts in the U.S. state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximat ...
. The Commission holds a public hearing and if satisfied with the nominee's qualifications, confirms the nomination. The nominee can then immediately fill an existing vacancy, or replace a departing justice at the beginning of the next judicial term. If a nominee is confirmed to fill a vacancy that arose partway through a judicial term, the justice must stand for retention during the next gubernatorial election. Voters then determine whether to retain the justice for the remainder of the judicial term. At the term's conclusion, justices must again undergo a statewide retention election for a full 12-year term. If a majority votes "no," the seat becomes vacant and may be filled by the Governor. The electorate has occasionally exercised the power not to retain justices. Chief Justice
Rose Bird Rose Elizabeth Bird (November 2, 1936 – December 4, 1999) was the 25th Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Her career was marked by firsts. She was the first female clerk of the Nevada Supreme Court, the first female deputy publi ...
and Associate Justices
Cruz Reynoso Cruz Reynoso (born 2 May 1931) is an American civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. Th ...
and
Joseph Grodin Joseph Raymond Grodin (born 1930) is a lawyer, law professor, and a former Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California.Hearn, Lorie (October 27, 1986) Grodin appeals to voters to e ...
were staunchly opposed to
capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a de ...
and were subsequently removed in the 1986 general election. Newly reelected Governor
George Deukmejian Courken George Deukmejian Jr. (; June 6, 1928 – May 8, 2018) was an Armenian-American politician who served as the 35th governor of California from 1983 to 1991. Deukmejian was a member of the Republican Party and he also served as the atto ...

George Deukmejian
was then able to elevate Associate Justice Malcolm M. Lucas to Chief Justice and appoint three new associate justices (one to replace Lucas in his old post and two to replace Reynoso and Grodin).


Structure

Between 1879 and 1966, the court was divided into two three-justice panels, Department One and Department Two.See ''People v. Kelly''
40 Cal. 4th 106, 113
(2006), which explains the 1879 constitutional convention's decision to create a seven-justice court with two three-justice departments.
The chief justice divided cases evenly between the panels and also decided which cases would be heard ''en banc'' by the Court sitting as a whole. After a constitutional amendment in 1966, the Court currently sits "in bank" (
en banc In law, an ''en banc'' session ( French for "in bench") is a session in which a case is heard before all the judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a Judicial panel, pan ...
) (all seven together) when hearing all appeals. When there is an open seat on the court, or if a justice recuses himself or herself on a given case, justices from the
California Courts of Appeal The California Courts of Appeal are the state intermediate appellate courts in the U.S. state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximat ...
are assigned by the chief justice to join the court for individual cases on a rotational basis. The procedure for when all justices recuse themselves from a case has varied over time. For a 1992 case, the chief justice requested the presiding justice of a Court of Appeal district (different from the one where the case originated) to select six other Court of Appeal justices from his district, and they formed an acting Supreme Court for the purpose of deciding that one case. However, in a later case where all members of the Court recused themselves when Governor Schwarzenegger sought a
writ of mandate (; ) is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a court to any government, subordinate court, corporation, or public authority, to do (or forbear from doing) some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do (or refrain from ...
(''Schwarzenegger v. Court of Appeal (Epstein)''), seven justices of the Courts of Appeal were selected based on the regular rotational basis, not from the same district, with the most senior one serving as the acting chief justice, and that acting supreme court eventually denied the writ petition. In a yet more recent case (''Mallano v. Chiang'') where all members of the Court recused themselves on a petition for review by retired Court of Appeal justices on a matter involving those justices' salaries (that apparently involved matters up to and including the 2016–2017 fiscal year), the Court ordered that six superior court judges be selected from the pool that took office after July 1, 2017, to serve as the substitute justices for the six sitting justices, with the senior judge among that group serving as the acting Chief Justice; that acting Supreme Court eventually denied the petition for review.


Membership

Four current justices were appointed by Democrats (Liu, Kruger, Groban, Jenkins) and two by Republicans (Cantil-Sakauye and Corrigan). The justices generally do not publicly discuss their political views or affiliations; however, in December 2018, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye announced that she was leaving the Republican Party. One justice earned an undergraduate degree from a
University of California The University of California (UC) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university, research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at University of Californ ...
school (Cantil-Sakauye at Davis), four from private universities in California (Corrigan at Holy Names, Liu and Groban at
Stanford , mottoeng = "The wind of freedom blows" , type = Private university, Private research university , academic_affiliations = Association of American Universities, AAUNational Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, Space-grant , establishe ...

Stanford
, and Jenkins at Santa Clara), and one from an out-of-state private university (Kruger at
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Harvard
). Two justices earned their law degrees from a University of California law school (Cantil-Sakauye at Davis and Corrigan at
Hastings Hastings () is a seaside town and Borough status in the United Kingdom, borough in East Sussex on the south coast of England, east to the county town of Lewes and south east of London. The town gives its name to the Battle of Hastings, which t ...
), one from a private California university (Jenkins at the
University of San Francisco The University of San Francisco (USF) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an abse ...
), and three from law schools at out-of-state private universities (Liu and Kruger at
Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athletic conference comprising eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The term ''Ivy ...
, and Groban at
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...
). The most recent Justice to leave the court was Associate Justice
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar
who retired on Oct, 31, 2021 to become President of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) is a nonpartisan foreign-policy think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for ...
. Cuéllar was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January 2015 and during his tenure was the only Hispanic Justice on the court. The most recent addition to the court is Associate Justice Martin Jenkins, who was sworn in on December 4, 2020, to replace Chin on the court. Appointed by Democratic Governor
Gavin Newsom Gavin Christopher Newsom (born October 10, 1967) is an American politician and businessman serving as the 40th Governor of California, governor of California since January 2019. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party ...

Gavin Newsom
, Jenkins is the first openly gay justice, the third African American man, and the fifth African American person to serve on the court. There is one
Filipino-American Filipino Americans ( fil, Mga Pilipinong Amerikano) are Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nationals of the United States of America.; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney General'' ...
justice (Cantil-Sakauye), two
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that ...
(Kruger, Jenkins), one East Asian-American justice (Liu), and two
non-Hispanic white Non-Hispanic Whites (also referred to as Anglo-Americans)Mish, Frederic C., Editor in Chief ''Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary'' Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.:1994--Merriam-Webster See original definition (definition #1) of ''Anglo'' ...
justices (Corrigan, Groban). The court had a female majority from 2011 to 2017. The majority was achieved in 2011 after Republican Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (; ; born July 30, 1947) is an Austrian-American actor, producer, businessman, retired bodybuilder, and former politician who served as the 38th governor of California from 2003 to 2011. As of , he is the most r ...

Arnold Schwarzenegger
appointed Chief Justice
Tani Cantil-Sakauye Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye (née__NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name or to the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the ent ...
to the court, joining Justice Joyce L. Kennard (an appointee of Republican Governor
George Deukmejian Courken George Deukmejian Jr. (; June 6, 1928 – May 8, 2018) was an Armenian-American politician who served as the 35th governor of California from 1983 to 1991. Deukmejian was a member of the Republican Party and he also served as the atto ...

George Deukmejian
), Justice
Kathryn Werdegar Kathryn Mickle Werdegar (born April 5, 1936) is a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, serving from June 3, 1994, to August 31, 2017. Biography Werdegar earned her Bachelor of Arts, B.A. with academic honors, honors at the ...
(appointed by Republican Governor
Pete Wilson Peter Barton Wilson (born August 23, 1933) is an American attorney and politician who served as the 36th governor of California from 1991 to 1999. A member of the Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A ...

Pete Wilson
), and Justice Carol A. Corrigan (another Schwarzenegger appointee). When Kennard retired in 2014, Democratic Governor
Jerry Brown Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. (born April 7, 1938) is an American lawyer, author, and politician who served as the 34th and 39th governor of California The governor of California is the head of government The head of government is either the h ...

Jerry Brown
preserved the female majority by appointing
Leondra Kruger Leondra Reid Kruger (born July 28, 1976) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California and a former Obama administration The presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST (17:00 UTC) on January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama ...

Leondra Kruger
to succeed her. The female majority ended when Werdegar retired in 2017, and Brown appointed Joshua Groban to succeed her.


Operation


Jurisdiction

The
Constitution of California The Constitution of California ( es, Constitución del Estado de California) is the primary organizing law for the U.S. state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents ...
gives the Court mandatory and exclusive appellate jurisdiction in all cases imposing
capital punishment in California Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the U.S. state of California. As of March 2019, further executions are halted by an official moratorium ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom. Prior to the moratorium, executions were frozen by a federal court ...
, although the Court has sponsored a state constitutional amendment to allow it to assign death penalty appeals to the California Courts of Appeal. The Court has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over all cases reviewed by the Courts of Appeal; the latter were created by a 1904 constitutional amendment to relieve the Supreme Court of most of its workload so the Court could then focus on dealing with non-frivolous appeals that involved important issues of law. According to research by Justice Goodwin Liu, each year the Court has averaged 5,200 petitions for writs of
certiorari In law, ''certiorari'' is a Legal process, court process to seek judicial review of a decision of a lower court or government agency. ''Certiorari'' comes from the name of an English prerogative writ, issued by a superior court to direct that t ...
and 3,400 petitions for
habeas corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, ...
, plus 40 additional petitions from inmates already on death row. In an average year the Court will decide to hear 83 cases and will be required to hear appeals from 20 new inmates joining death row. Each week, the Court votes on 150 to 300 petitions, paying special attention to a staff-recommended "A list" as well as to certified questions from the
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in case citation Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called Reporter (law), reporters or law reports, o ...
.


Operation

The Court is open for business year-round (as opposed to operating only during scheduled "terms" as is commonplace in jurisdictions that observe the
legal year The legal year, in English law as well as in other common law jurisdictions, is the calendar during which the judges sit in court. It is traditionally divided into periods called "terms." Asia Hong Kong Hong Kong's legal year is marked as Ceremo ...
). The Court hears oral argument at least one week per month, 10 months each year (except July and August). Since 1878, it has regularly heard oral argument each year at San Francisco (four months), Los Angeles (four months), and Sacramento (two months). According to Justice Liu, when a case is granted review, the Chief Justice assigns the case to a justice, who, after the parties finish briefing, then prepares a draft opinion. Each justice writes a preliminary response to the draft opinion, and if the assigned justice is in the minority, she may ask the Chief Justice to reassign the case to someone in the majority. The Court then hears oral arguments and, immediately afterwards, meet alone to vote. The California Constitution requires suspension of the justices' salaries if the Court fails to then file a decision within 90 days. The Court issues unanimous opinions in 77% of cases, compared to 43% by the
Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a cou ...

Supreme Court of the United States
. Throughout the year (including July and August), the justices have a conference every Wednesday the Court is not hearing oral argument, with the exception of the last week, respectively, of November and December (Thanksgiving and New Year's). New opinions are published online on Monday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. Paper copies also become available through the clerk's office at that time. The Court is one of the few U.S. courts apart from the U.S. Supreme Court that enjoys the privilege of having its opinions routinely published in three hardcover
reporters A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worthy form and disseminates it to the public. The act or process mainly done by the journalist is called journalism. ...
. The Court's Reporter of Decisions contracts with a private publisher (currently
LexisNexis LexisNexis is a corporation that sells data mining Data mining is a process of extracting and discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems. Data mining is an ...

LexisNexis
) to publish the official reporter, ''California Reports'', now in its fifth series; note that the series number changes whenever the publisher changes, although the most recent changeover to the fifth series did not involve a change in reporter.
West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A co ...
publishes California decisions in both the ''California Reporter'' (in its second series) and the ''
Pacific ReporterThe ''Pacific Reporter'', ''Pacific Reporter Second'', and ''Pacific Reporter Third'' () are United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...

Pacific Reporter
'' (in its third series). (The
New York Court of Appeals The New York Court of Appeals is the supreme court, highest court in the Judiciary of New York (state), Unified Court System of the New York (state), State of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge of the New York ...
opinions are similarly published in three reporters.) Each justice has five assigned chambers attorneys. Since the late 1980s, the Court has turned away from the traditional use of
law clerk A law clerk or a judicial clerk is an individual—generally an attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advisor to) a govern ...
s, and has switched to permanent staff attorneys. Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, and Leondra Kruger, however, have returned to the traditional use of recent law school graduates as one-year clerks for some of their staff positions. The Court has about 85 staff attorneys, some of whom are attached to particular justices; the rest are shared as a central staff. The advantage to this system is that the reduced turnover of staff attorneys (versus the traditional system of rotating through new law clerks every year) has improved the efficiency of the court in dealing with complex cases, particularly death penalty cases. During its first half-century of operation, the Court struggled to keep up with its soaring caseload and very frequently fell behind, until the California Courts of Appeal were created in 1904. This resulted in provisions in the 1879 Constitution forcing the Court to decide all cases in writing with reasons given (to get rid of minor cases, it had often given summary dispositions with ''no'' reasons given) and requiring California judges to certify in writing every month that no matter submitted for consideration had been outstanding for more than 90 days, or else they would not be paid. To comply with the latter provision, the Court does not schedule oral argument until the justices have already studied the briefs, formulated their respective positions, and circulated draft opinions. Then, after the matter is formally "argued and submitted", the justices can polish and release their opinions well before reaching the 90-day deadline. This differs sharply from the practice in all other federal and state appellate courts, where judges can schedule oral argument not long after written briefing is finished, but then may take months (or even a year) after oral argument to release opinions. Because the court was extremely overloaded with cases prior to 1904, its decisions in several hundred minor cases that should have been published were not published. A small group of lawyers eventually undertook the tedious task of plowing through the state archives to recover and compile those opinions, which were published in a separate seven-volume reporter called ''California Unreported Cases'' starting in 1913. Despite its name, those cases are citable as precedent, since they would have been published but for the court's disorganized condition at the time they were issued.


Ancillary responsibilities

The Court supervises the lower courts (including the trial-level
California superior courts Superior courts in California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, ...
) through the
Judicial Council of California The Judicial Council of California is the rule-making arm of the California court system. In accordance with the California Constitution and under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, the council is responsible f ...
and the California Commission on Judicial Performance, and also supervises California's legal profession through the
State Bar of California The State Bar of California is California's official attorney licensing agency. It is responsible for managing the admission of lawyers to the practice of law, investigating complaints of professional misconduct, prescribing appropriate discipline ...
. All lawyer admissions are done through recommendations of the State Bar, which then must be ratified by the Supreme Court, and attorney discipline is delegated to the State Bar Court of California (although suspensions longer than three years must be independently decided upon by the Court). California's bar is the largest in the U.S. with 210,000 members, of whom 160,000 are practicing. The court, with the assistance of the Reporter of Decisions, publishes the California Style Manual for use by the
California Courts of Appeal The California Courts of Appeal are the state intermediate appellate courts in the U.S. state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximat ...
and the superior courts.


Reputation

As the ''
Wall Street Journal ''The Wall Street Journal'', also known as ''The Journal'', is an American business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information ...

Wall Street Journal
'' said in 1972:
The state's high court over the past 20 years has won a reputation as perhaps the most innovative of the state judiciaries, setting precedents in areas of criminal justice, civil liberties, racial integration, and consumer protection that heavily influence other states and the federal bench.
Statistical analyses conducted by
LexisNexis LexisNexis is a corporation that sells data mining Data mining is a process of extracting and discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems. Data mining is an ...

LexisNexis
personnel at the Court's request indicate that the decisions of the Supreme Court of California are by far the most followed of any state supreme court in the United States. Between 1940 and 2005, 1,260 decisions of the Court were expressly followed by out-of-state courts (meaning that those courts expressly found the Court's reasoning persuasive and applied it to the cases before them). Many important legal concepts have been pioneered or developed by the Court, including
strict liability In criminal law, criminal and Civil law (common law), civil law, strict liability is a standard of Public liability, liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of Tort, ...
for defective products,
fair procedureFair procedure is a common law doctrine that arises from a line of groundbreaking decisions of the Supreme Court of California The Supreme Court of California is the Supreme court, highest and final court in the judiciary of California, courts of ...
,
negligent infliction of emotional distress The tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentiona ...
,
palimony Palimony is the division of financial assets and real property on the termination of a personal live-in relationship wherein the parties are not legally married. The term ''palimony'' is currently not codified as a legal term, but rather it remains ...
,
insurance bad faith Insurance bad faith is a legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter o ...
,
wrongful life Wrongful life is the name given to a cause of action A cause of action or right of action, in law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a uni ...
, and market-share liability. The
major film studios Major film studios are production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products (goods and ser ...
in and around
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...

Hollywood
and the high-tech firms of
Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is a region in Northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a U.S ...

Silicon Valley
both fall under the Court's jurisdiction. Thus, the Court has decided a number of cases by, between, and against such companies, as well as several cases involving Hollywood celebrities and high-tech executives. The California Supreme Court and all lower California state courts use a different writing style and
citation A citation is a reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to ''refer to'' the second o ...
system from the federal courts and many other state courts. California citations have the year between the names of the parties and the reference to the case reporter, as opposed to the national standard (the
Bluebook ''The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation'' is a style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has other ...
) of putting the year at the end. For example, the famous case '' Marvin v. Marvin'', which established the standard for non-marital partners' ability to sue for their contributions to the partnership, is rendered ''Marvin v. Marvin'' (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660 34 Cal.Rptr. 815, 557 P.2d 106in California style, while it would be ''Marvin v. Marvin'', 18 Cal. 3d 660, 557 P.2d 106, 134 Cal. Rptr. 815 (1976), in Bluebook style. The California citation style, however, has always been the norm of common law jurisdictions outside the United States, including England, Canada and Australia. While the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
justices indicate the author of an opinion and who has "joined" the opinion at the start of the opinion, California justices always sign a majority opinion at the end, followed by "WE CONCUR," and then the names of the joining justices. California judges are traditionally not supposed to use certain ungrammatical terms in their opinions, which has led to embarrassing fights between judges and the editor of the state's official reporters. California has traditionally avoided the use of certain French and Latin phrases like ''
en banc In law, an ''en banc'' session ( French for "in bench") is a session in which a case is heard before all the judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a Judicial panel, pan ...
'', ''
certiorari In law, ''certiorari'' is a Legal process, court process to seek judicial review of a decision of a lower court or government agency. ''Certiorari'' comes from the name of an English prerogative writ, issued by a superior court to direct that t ...
'', and ''
mandamus (; ) is a judicial remedy A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Ad ...
'', so California judges and attorneys use "in bank," "review," and "mandate" instead (though "in bank" has become quite rare after 1974). Finally, the Court has the power to "depublish" opinions by the Courts of Appeal (as opposed to the federal practice of ''not'' publishing certain "unpublished" opinions at all in the federal case reporters). This means that even though the opinion has already been published in the official state reporters, it will be binding only upon the parties.
Stare decisis A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based ...
does not apply, and any new rules articulated will not be applied in future cases. Similarly, the California Supreme Court has the power to "publish" opinions by the California Courts of Appeal which were initially not published.


Important cases

The California Supreme Court has handed down important and influential decisions since 1850. Some of the most significant of these important and influential Court decisions are listed below in date ascending order. Most of the Court decisions that follow were landmark decisions that were among the first such decisions in the United States or the world. * '' People v. Hall'' (1854), a case which held that Chinese persons may not testify against a white man, even if the white man is accused of murdering a Chinese person; effectively overturned by state law in 1873. The ''Hall'' case has been described as “containing some of the most offensive racial rhetoric to be found in the annals of California appellate jurisprudence” and “the worst statutory interpretation case in history.” * ''Houston v. Williams'' (1859), a leading case on the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
under the California Constitution. * ''
Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. ''Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co.'', 24 Cal.2d 453, 150 P.2dThe ''Pacific Reporter'', ''Pacific Reporter Second'', and ''Pacific Reporter Third'' are United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S ...
'' (1944), then-Associate Justice Roger Traynor suggested in a now-famous concurring opinion that the Court should dispose of
legal fiction A legal fiction is a fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth i ...
s like warranties and impose
strict liability In criminal law, criminal and Civil law (common law), civil law, strict liability is a standard of Public liability, liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of Tort, ...
for defective products as a matter of public policy. * '' Perez v. Sharp'' (1948), the Court overturned the statutory ban on
interracial marriage Interracial marriage is a marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant othe ...
as unconstitutional. ''Perez'' directly influenced the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on this issue, '' Loving v. Virginia'' (1967). * ''
Summers v. Tice ''Summers v. Tice''(1948), is a seminal California Supreme Court The Supreme Court of California is the highest and final court in the courts of the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly kno ...
'' (1948), the Court shifted the burden to the defense to disprove causation when it was clear that one of two defendants must have caused the plaintiff's injury, but it was not clear which one. * '' Dillon v. Legg'' (1968), the Court radically expanded the tort of
negligent infliction of emotional distress The tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentiona ...
(NIED) beyond its traditional form, which historically had been limited to plaintiffs standing in the same "zone of danger" as a relative who was killed. * '' Pacific Gas & E. Co. v. G.W. Drayage & Rigging Co., Inc.'' (1968), in which the Court held that parol evidence could be conditionally received by a trial court to determine if a contract was ambiguous when not ambiguous on its face. This decision has not been followed by the courts of any other state. * '' Rowland v. Christian'' (1968), the Court abolished the old distinctions between different types of persons entering land and imposed a general
duty of care In tort law A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intenti ...
in the context of the tort of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial ...

negligence
. * ''People v. Belous'' (1969), finding the state's criminal statute prohibiting abortions to be unconstitutionally vague, in a 4-3 decision. * ''People v. Anderson'' (1972), the Court relied upon the state constitutional clause prohibiting "cruel or unusual punishment" (note the difference from the federal Constitution's "cruel and unusual punishment" clause) to abolish capital punishment in California. The state electorate promptly Initiatives and referendums in the United States, overruled ''Anderson'' that same year with a Initiative, popular initiative, California Proposition 17 (1972), Proposition 17, that kept the "cruel or unusual" clause but declared the death penalty to be neither cruel nor unusual. * ''Pitchess motion, Pitchess v. Superior Court'' (1974), the Court held that criminal defendants have a right to access the arresting officer's personnel file when the defendant alleges in an affidavit that the officer used excessive force or lied about the circumstances of the arrest. * ''Li v. Yellow Cab Co.'' (1975), the Court embraced comparative negligence as part of California tort law and rejected strict contributory negligence. * ''Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California'' (1976), the Court held that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient. The original 1974 decision mandated warning the threatened individual, but a 1976 rehearing resulted in a decision calling for a "duty to protect" the intended victim, which did not necessarily require that a potential victim be informed of the threat. * '' Marvin v. Marvin'' (1976), the Court ruled in favor of the enforceability of non-marital relationship contracts, express or implied, to the extent that they are ''not'' founded purely upon meretricious sexual services. In other words, even though California does not recognize common law marriage, persons who cohabit for long periods of time and commingle their assets are allowed to plead and prove marriage-like contracts for support and division of property. * ''Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center'' (1979), the Court found that the broad right to freedom of speech in the state constitution included an implied right to freedom of speech in ''private'' shopping centers. The U.S. Supreme Court in turn held that the state supreme court's decision did not amount to a Takings Clause, "taking" of the shopping center under federal constitutional law. * ''Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories'' (1980), the Court imposed market share liability on the makers of fungible hazardous products. * ''Thing v. La Chusa'' (1989), the Court withdrew from the expansive form of NIED set forth in ''Dillon'' and imposed a rigid bright-line test for recovery in bystander NIED cases. The ''Thing'' decision included extensive ''dicta'' hostile to plaintiffs which more generally limited the scope of recovery for both the tort of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial ...

negligence
and Negligent infliction of emotional distress, emotional distress damages in California. * ''Moore v. Regents of the University of California'' (1990), the Court held that patients do not have intellectual property rights in profits from medical discoveries made with their body parts. * ''Wendland v. Wendland'' (2001), the Court held that in the absence of a legally recognized method of determining who should make medical decisions on the behalf of an incompetent patient, the constitutional right to life and Privacy laws of the United States#Constitutional basis for right to privacy, right to privacy granted special protection to the incompetent person. * ''Yount v. City of Sacramento'' (2008), the Court held that a criminal conviction does not limit an individual's right to bring civil action for deprivation of rights in cases of excessive use of force. * ''In re Marriage Cases'' (2008), the Court held that sexual orientation is a protected class which requires strict scrutiny and under such scrutiny, laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional under the state constitution. The state electorate overturned the marriage portion of the decision that same year by enacting a popular initiative, California Proposition 8 (2008), Proposition 8, but left in place the discrimination protections. * ''California Proposition 218 (1996)#The Landmark 2008 Silicon Valley Taxpayers Supreme Court Case, Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Assn., Inc. v. Santa Clara County Open Space Authority'' (2008), the Court unanimously held in a California Proposition 218 (1996), Proposition 218 ("Right to Vote on Taxes Act") case that courts must exercise their independent judgment in reviewing local agency legislative decisions adopting special assessments. The highly deferential standard of review before Proposition 218 became law was grounded in
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
. Because the constitutional provisions of Proposition 218 were of equal dignity to the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
doctrine, it no longer justified allowing a local agency to usurp the judicial function of interpreting and applying the constitutional provisions that governed assessments under Proposition 218. * ''People v. Diaz'' (2011),51 Cal. 4th 84, 244 P.3d 501, 119 Cal. Rptr. 3d 105 (2011). the Court held that the warrantless search of information in a cell phone was valid when incident to a lawful arrest. (The holding in ''Diaz'' was eventually repudiated by the United States Supreme Court in ''Riley v. California''.)


Notable former justices

*Serranus Clinton Hastings, Chief Justice (1850–1852) (First Chief Justice, founded Hastings College of the Law) *Solomon Heydenfeldt, Associate Justice (1852–1857) (First Jewish justice to be elected by direct vote of the people) *David S. Terry, Chief Justice (1857–1859) (Killed while attempting to assassinate his successor, Stephen Field) *Stephen J. Field, Chief Justice (1859–1863) (Appointed by Abraham Lincoln, President Lincoln to the
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
) *Addison Niles, Associate Justice (1872–1880) *Curtis D. Wilbur, Chief Justice (1923–1924) (Appointed by Calvin Coolidge, President Coolidge as United States Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Secretary of the Navy) *Mathew Tobriner, Associate Justice (1962–1982) *Roger J. Traynor, Chief Justice (1964–1970), Associate Justice (1940–1964) (Well-respected legal scholar; generally regarded as the greatest justice in the history of the Court) *Stanley Mosk, Associate Justice (1964–2001) (Longest serving justice) *Wiley Manuel, Wiley W. Manuel, Associate Justice (1977–1981) (First African American, African-American on the Court; well known for his pro bono work) *Rose Bird, Rose E. Bird, Chief Justice (1977–1987) (First woman appointed to the Court; only Chief Justice ever not to be retained by the electorate) *Otto Kaus, Associate Justice (1981–1985) *Allen Broussard, Associate Justice (1981–1991) *
Cruz Reynoso Cruz Reynoso (born 2 May 1931) is an American civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. Th ...
, Associate Justice (1982–1987) (First Latino on the Court) *Janice Rogers Brown, Associate Justice (1996–2005) (Appointed by George W. Bush, President G.W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit) *Ronald M. George, Chief Justice (1996–2011), Associate Justice (1991–1996)


List of chief justices


See also

* Judiciary of California *
Judicial Council of California The Judicial Council of California is the rule-making arm of the California court system. In accordance with the California Constitution and under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, the council is responsible f ...


References


External links


Supreme Court of CaliforniaCalifornia Supreme Court Historical SocietyAt the Lectern – California Supreme Court Practice Blog
{{DEFAULTSORT:Supreme Court Of California Supreme Court of California, 1849 establishments in California Courts and tribunals established in 1849 California state courts