About California Courts

 

Overview

California’s court system is the largest in the nation and serves a population of more than 40 million people— about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.

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, which reside in each of the state’s 58 counties. With approximately 450 court buildings throughout the state, these courts hear both civil and criminal cases as well as family, probate, mental health, juvenile, and traffic cases.

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

  • Court levels: 3
  • Trial courts: 58—one in each county
  • Court of Appeal districts: 6
  • Highest court: California Supreme Court
  • Judicial branch budget is 1.5% of State General Fund

 

Jury Service

  • Jury pay: $15/day starting with second day of service and 34 cents per mile, one way
  • Approximately 9 million jurors were summoned for jury service*
  • Approximately 5 million were qualified and available to serve*
  • Approximately 94,000 were sworn in as jurors*

*Numbers are based on fiscal year 2019-20 data, with 56 of the 58 (97%) superior courts reporting

 

Language Access

  • Languages and dialects spoken in California—more than 200
  • Percentage of Californians that speak a non-English language at home: 44%
  • Percentage of Californians with English-language limitations: approximately 19% (more than 7 million)
  • Languages certified for court interpreters: American Sign Language and 15 spoken languages—Arabic, Eastern Armenian, Western Armenian, Cantonese, Farsi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese
  • Percentage of interpreter services in Spanish in courtroom proceedings: 91%, followed by Vietnamese, American Sign Language, Mandarin, and Cantonese*

*Source: 2020 Language Need and Interpreter Use Study

 

California Supreme Court

  • Justices: 1 Chief Justice, 6 Associate Justices
  • Filings: 6470 annually
  • 78 written opinions annually

 

Courts of Appeal

  • Justices: 106 (authorized positions)
  • Filings: 17,889 annually
  • Dispositions: 20,772 annually

 

Superior Courts (trial courts)

  • 1,755 judges (authorized positions)
  • Filings: 5,300,000 annually
  • Dispositions: 3,643,701 annually

 

Case filings, opinions, and disposition information on this page are from the most recent Court Statistics Report.