The Supreme Court of California is the state supreme court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco, and regularly holds sessions at its branch offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.
The justices come from principally Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations, but do not publicly discuss their religious views.
Kennard is the only justice with a physical disability.
The electorate has occasionally exercised the power not to retain justices. Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin were staunchly opposed to capital punishment and were subsequently removed at the 1986 general election. Newly-elected Governor George Deukmejian was then able to elevate Associate Justice Malcolm M. Lucas to Chief Justice and appoint three new conservative associate justices.
Between 1879 and 1966, the court was divided into two three-justice panels, Department One and Department Two. The Chief Justice divided cases evenly between the panels and also decided which panels would be heard en banc by the Court sitting as a whole.
After a constitutional amendment in 1966, the Court currently sits as a whole (all seven together) when hearing all appeals. When there is an open seat on the court, or if a justice recused himself or herself on a given case, justices from the California Courts of Appeal are assigned by the Chief Justice to join the court for individual cases, on a rotational basis.
The Court is open for business year-round. The Court hears oral argument at least one week per month, ten months each year (the exceptions are July and August). Since 1874, it has regularly heard oral argument each year at San Francisco (four months), Los Angeles (four months), and Sacramento (two months).
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 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 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).
The California Supreme Court and all lower California state courts use a different writing style and citation 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) 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 [134 Cal.Rptr. 815, 557 P.2d 106] in 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 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, certiorari, and mandamus, so California judges and attorneys write "in bank," "review," and "mandate" instead.
Finally, the California Supreme 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 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.
|1||Serranus Clinton Hastings||(1850-1852)|
|2||Henry A. Lyons||(1852)|
|3||Hugh C. Murray||(1852-1857)|
|4||David S. Terry||(1857-1859)|
|5||Stephen J. Field||(1859-1863)|
|7||Silas W. Sanderson||(1864-1866)|
|10||Augustus L. Rhodes||(1870-1872)|
|11||Royal T. Sprague||(1872)|
|12||William T. Wallace||(1872-1879)|
|13||Robert F. Morrison||(1879-1887)|
|15||William H. Beatty||(1889-1914)|
|16||Matt I. Sullivan||(1914-1915)|
|17||Frank M. Angellotti||(1915-1921)|
|19||Curtis D. Wilbur||(1923-1924)|
|20||Louis W. Myers||(1924-1926)|
|21||William H. Waste||(1926-1940)|
|22||Phil S. Gibson||(1940-1964)|
|23||Roger J. Traynor||(1964-1970)|
|24||Donald R. Wright||(1970-1977)|
|25||Rose Elizabeth Bird||(1977-1987)|
|26||Malcolm M. Lucas||(1987-1996)|
|27||Ronald M. George||(1996-present)|
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