About California Courts


California’s court system is the largest in the world and serves a population of more than 38 million people—
about 12 percent of the total U.S. population—and more than 2,000 judicial officers and approximately 19,000
court employees statewide address the full range of cases heard each year.

The vast majority of cases in the California courts begin in one of the 58 superior, or trial, courts, which reside in each of the state’s 58 counties. With more than 500 court buildings throughout the state, these courts hear both civil and criminal cases as well as family, probate, mental health, juvenile, and traffic cases.
order in which cases are seen
The next level of judicial authority resides with the Courts of Appeal. Most cases before the Courts of Appeal involve the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party to the case. The Legislature divided the state geographically into six appellate districts.

The state Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has discretion to review decisions of the Courts 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 percent of the United States population

  • Total court system filings: almost 7.7 million cases in fiscal year 2012–2013
  • Total authorized judicial officer positions (including commissioners and referees): 2,024
  • 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 a share of the total state budget: 2.1 percent
  • Court employees statewide: nearly 19,000

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 are 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: 140,180
  • Family: filings for child support, domestic violence and other: 248,907
  • Juvenile delinquency filings: 52,732
  • Juvenile dependency filings: 44,882

California Supreme Court

  • Justices: 1 Chief Justice, 6 Associate Justices
  • Filings: 7,813
  • 94 written opinions

Courts of Appeal

  • Justices: 105
  • Filings: 20,391
  • Dispositions: 22,092

Superior Courts

  • 2,024 judicial officers (Assessed need = 2,286)
  • Filings: 7,726,025
  • Dispositions: 6,617,606

More statistics for fiscal year 2012–2013 may be found in the Court Statistics Report.

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