About California Courts

Overview of the courts

order in which cases are seen The vast majority of cases in the California courts begin in one of the 58 superior, or trial, courts — located in each of the state's 58 counties. With facilities in more than 450 locations, these courts hear both civil and criminal cases, as well as family, probate, and juvenile cases.

The next level of judicial authority within the state's judicial branch resides with the Courts of Appeal. Most of the cases that come before the Courts of Appeal involve the review of a superior court decision that is being contested by a party to the case. The Legislature has divided the state geographically into six appellate districts, each containing a Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state, and has discretion to review decisions of the Court of Appeal in order to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Courts of Appeal.  The court also must review the appeal in any case in which a trial court has imposed a judgment of death.

California Courts at a Glance

Population served: more than 38 million—12.1% of the United States population

  • Total court system filings: almost 8.5 million cases in fiscal year 2011–2012
  • Number of authorized judicial officer positions (including commissioners and referees): 2,159
  • Court levels: Two-trial and appellate
  • Trial courts: 58—one in each county
  • Court of Appeal districts: 6 in 9 locations
  • Highest court: California Supreme Court 
  • Judicial branch budget as percentage of total State Budget: 2.1
  • 17,000 court employees statewide

Jury service

• Jury pay: $15/day starting with second day of service and 34 cents per mile, one way.
• Number of Californians summoned to jury service in fiscal year 2011-12: 8,458,231**
• Number of Californians summoned to jury service who completed service in fiscal year 2011-12: 3,012,385**
• Number of Californians sworn in to serve as jurors in fiscal year 2011-12: 164,508**

**Numbers based on 53 of the 58 (93%) superior courts reporting

Court interpreters

  • Languages spoken in California—200 in the state, over 120 in the courts
  • Languages certified for court interpreters: 15 (Arabic, Eastern Armenian, Western Armenian, Cantonese, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language.)
  • Total number of court interpreter service days provided in the California Courts from 2004 to 2008: Over 1,000,000
  • Percent of interpreter services provided in Spanish: 83


Family and juvenile

  • Family: filings for dissolution, legal separation and nullity of marriage: 160,593
  • Family: filings for child support, domestic violence and other: 277,207
  • Juvenile delinquency filings: 62,937
  • Juvenile dependency filings: 39,040


California Supreme Court

  • Justices: 1 Chief Justice, 6 Associate Justices
  • Filings: 9,237
  • 87 written opinions


Courts of Appeal

  • Justices: 105
  • Filings: 24,118
  • Dispositions totaled: 24,215


Superior Courts

  • Approximately more than 2,000 judicial officers
  • Filings: 8,498,331
  • Dispositions: 7,518,201


More statistics for fiscal year 2011-2012 may be found in the Court Statistics Report.

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