Yesterday, we reviewed the California Supreme Court’s experience with amicus curiae briefs in civil cases between 2008 and 2015. Today, we conclude this topic with a review of the Court’s criminal cases during the same years.

Just as was true for the years 2000 to 2007, amicus briefs have been nowhere near as commonplace in criminal cases as they are in civil matters. In 2008, the Court received only 3 amicus briefs in non-unanimous criminal cases and 31 in unanimous ones. In 2009, the Court accepted 8 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases and 29 in unanimous decisions. For 2010, the Court accepted 13 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases and 23 in unanimous cases. For 2011, amicus briefs dwindled to nearly nothing on the criminal side – 1 in non-unanimous decisions and 7 in unanimous cases. For 2012, the Court accepted 10 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases and 29 in unanimous ones. The following year, the Court accepted 14 amicus briefs in unanimous criminal cases, but none in non-unanimous ones. For 2014, the Court accepted 3 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases, but 35 in unanimous decisions. Last year, the Court accepted 9 amicus briefs in non-unanimous criminal cases and 12 in unanimous cases.

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Turning to the per-case averages, one result is evident: dissent on the Court is not as highly correlated with heavy amicus traffic as it is on the civil side. For 2008, the Court averaged 0.38 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases, and 0.53 in unanimous decisions. The next year, the Court accepted 0.67 briefs in non-unanimous cases and 0.59 in unanimous ones. Amicus briefs topped out at 1.18 for non-unanimous cases in 2010; the Court averaged only 0.39 in unanimous decisions. For 2011, amicus briefs almost zeroed out – only 0.07 average in non-unanimous cases, 0.19 average in unanimous cases.

For 2012, the Court averaged 0.63 amicus briefs in non-unanimous criminal cases, 0.48 in unanimous ones. In 2013, there were no amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases and 0.34 in unanimous ones. In 2014, the Court averaged 0.33 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases, 0.74 in unanimous ones. Last year, the Court averaged 0.82 amicus briefs in non-unanimous cases and 0.38 in unanimous cases.

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Join us back here next Thursday as we begin our analysis of a new topic in our ongoing analytics work.