About the Courts of Appeal

History

At the thirty-fifth session of the Legislature, on March 14, 1903, an amendment was proposed to Article VI of the California Constitution to create a more lasting solution to the continuing problem of court congestion. The amendment proposed both the dissolution of the Supreme Court Commission and the creation of three District Courts of Appeal, defining their respective jurisdictions and their composition.

The First Appellate District would be located in San Francisco; the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles; and the Third Appellate District in the State's capital city, Sacramento. Section 25 of the proposed amendment also provided for the abolition of the Supreme Court Commission upon the expiration of its then current term. Section 4 of the proposed amendment provided that upon ratification of the amendment, the Governor would appoint nine justices, three per district, to serve until the first Monday in January of 1907.

It further provided that at the 1906 election, the justices would be elected. Each district was to have one justice serve a 4-year term, one serve an 8-year term, and one serve a 12-year term, their length of service to be determined by drawing lots. At the same time, section 17 of Article VI of the Constitution would set the annual salary of the Justices of the District Courts of Appeal at $7,000. The Constitutional amendments were submitted to the voters and adopted November 8, 1904.

Membership and Qualifications

The rules governing the selection of Supreme Court justices apply to those serving on the Courts of Appeal. Justices are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

Original, Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts of Appeal have appellate jurisdiction when superior courts have original jurisdiction, and in certain other cases prescribed by statute. Like the Supreme Court, they have original jurisdiction in habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, and prohibition proceedings (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 10).

Cases are decided by three-judge panels. Decisions of the panels, known as opinions, are published in the California Appellate Reports if those opinions meet certain criteria for publication. In general, the opinion is published if it establishes a new rule of law, involves a legal issue of continuing public interest, criticizes existing law, or makes a significant contribution to legal literature (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 14; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.1105(c)).

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