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California Court Records

California boasts some of the highest caseloads and volumes of legal resources in its archives in the country. This makes California court records highly sought after by the public, courts and legal professionals. Case histories and California Supreme Court decisions have been utilized in many court case battles. The public can access many of these California court records online today, allowing for ease of use and access to vast amounts of information in a short amount of time.

The California Supreme Court is served by the Judicial Center Library in San Francisco, and serves as the state’s highest appellate court. Lower trial courts and the Court of Appeals may have their decisions reviewed by the justices in the event of an appeal.

California Court Records

History of California Courts

In 1849, the state constitution created the California Supreme Court and allowed for a total of three justices. In 1862, amendments allowed there to be five justices for terms of ten years. 1879 saw an increase to seven justices serving 12-year terms, and in 1926 the California Legislature created the Judicial Council of California.

The Judicial Center Library provides California court records to the California Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and First Appellate District. The library is located in San Francisco, and maintains more than 200,000 volumes.

This main legal library for the state also holds special collections of legal scholars’ works and personal papers from the state’s Supreme Court Justices, in addition to the archives of the California Supreme Court Historical Society.

California Court Statistics

California Courts recieve 7,480,476 filings per year. In 2012, the court received 8,375,563 filings and gave 7,269,046 dispositions. In 2016, the state court caseload counted 6,486,398 filings and had 5,770,212 dispositions.

Total State Caseloads

Year Caseloads
2012 8,375,563
2013 7,796,955
2014 7,653,383
2015 7,090,083
2016 6,486,398

California Court Records Availability

California court records available at the Judicial Center Library include rules of the court and forms, California’s constitution and statutes, administrative laws and codes, local statutes and rules, as well as records created by the California State Senate and Assembly. The volumes kept in the library also include federal legal resources and law reviews and journals.

Share of Court Type Incoming Caseloads

Court Type Caseloads
Traffic: 3,905,081 (60.2 %)
Domestic Relations: 388,903 (6.0 %)
Criminal: 1,364,529 (21.0 %)
Civil: 827,885 (12.8 %)

Share of Court Type Outgoing Caseloads

Court Type Caseloads
Traffic: 3,533,542 (61.2 %)
Domestic Relations: 319,777 (5.5 %)
Criminal: 1,159,462 (20.1 %)
Civil: 757,431 (13.1 %)

California Main Court Information

The California Supreme Court meets in San Francisco at the Earl Warren Building. Historically, the court met there until 1854, when it was then moved to Sacramento. In the 1870s it once again began meeting in San Francisco. California’s Legislature decided in 1874 that the court would hear cases in each of those cities for two months of the year.

Family Court Cases

Domestic relations caseload of California at year end 2016 has decreased by 1.0% compared to the last 5 years, in 2012 the number of incoming cases was 392,873 with a rate of 1,033 cases per 100,000 population, higher than it's in 2016.

Year Domestic Relations Caseload Total Statewide Caseload
2012 392,873 8,375,563
2013 382,808 7,796,955
2014 382,941 7,653,383
2015 378,589 7,090,083
2016 388,903 6,486,398

Domestic Relations Clearance Rates

Year Incoming Caseload Outgoing Caseload Caseload per 100,000 Population
2012 392,873 369,559 1,033
2013 382,808 344,638 999
2014 382,941 344,042 987
2015 378,589 344,783 967
2016 388,903 319,777 991

States with More & Less Domestic Relation Caseloads than California

More Domestic Relations Cases than California:

State: Caseload:
New York 570,709
Texas 397,468

Less Domestic Relations Cases than California:

State: Caseload:
Pennsylvania 342,163
Virginia 342,040
New Jersey 247,042
Florida 233,545
Ohio 205,293

California Caseload Statistics

Since California is such a big state, the caseload of its supreme court is often in the tens of thousands. In 2007, it received 8,988 filings and had 9,247 dispositions. In 2013, there were 7,813 filings and 8,269 dispositions. The highest caseload in recent history was in 2008, when filings totaled 10,521 and dispositions totaled 10,440.

California Criminal Caseloads

The number of criminal cases in California counts 1,361,390 with 266,124 felony cases and 1,095,266 misdemeanors accordingly.

Year Criminal Caseload Misdemeanor Caseload Felony Caseload
2012 1,444,240 309,116 1,134,273
2013 1,450,603 341,670 1,105,422
2014 1,414,845 349,295 1,062,406
2015 1,437,324 285,837 1,147,794
2016 1,364,529 266,124 1,095,266

State Civil Caseload & Clearance Rates

In the last 5 years the number of civil cases has decreased by 335,899 cases, it went from 1,163,784 to 827,885 with clearance rates of 98% and 91%.

Year Civil Caseload Clearance Rate
2012 1,163,784 98
2013 1,003,010 99
2014 947,138 98
2015 848,949 99
2016 827,885 91