Appellate Tidbits: AI passed the bar exam, Cal. Supremes throwing shade, a strategy to protect arb awards, and new fed court stats

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
April 14, 2023

Here are some recent news items of appellate interest:

🤖 It's official: AI has passed the Uniform Bar Exam. GPT-4, the upgraded AI program released earlier this week by Microsoft-backed OpenAI, scored in the 90th percentile of actual test takers. (Look for two new California Appellate Law Podcast episodes on ChatGPT and AI in the law.) (Via Appellate Advocacy Blog.)

🤔The Cal. Supreme Court sometimes depublishes opinions it doesn’t like. It recently depublished People v. Velez (interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen (2022) 597 U.S. _ as making “clearly unconstitutional” part of California’s statutory scheme for issuing concealed-carry firearms) and People v. Calvary Chapel San Jose (an opinion reversing contempt orders imposed for a church’s noncompliance with state and county Covid regulations). David Ettinger posits the Supreme Court might be “indirectly criticizing U.S. Supreme Court decisions by throwing some shade.”

💡Just won an arbitration? Consider waiting a bit to file your petition to confirm the arbitration award. There might be a strategic advantage to eating up your opponent’s 100-day period to file a petition to vacate. But note that the viability of that strategy is currently on review in the state Supreme Court in Law Finance Group, LLC v. Key, reviewing this issue: Does equitable tolling apply to the 100-day deadline in Code of Civil Procedure section 1288.2 to serve and file a request to vacate an arbitration award in response to a petition to confirm the award? The court granted review in November 2021. (Via At the Lectern.)

📊The Federal Judiciary’s 2022 Annual Report and Statistics report that the 9th Circuit’s median time from appeal to opinion is 13.2 months. (Slowest: 1st Cir. at 14 months. Fastest: 8th Cir. at 4.6 months.) 9th Circuit civil appeal reversal rate: 15% (Via Ben Shatz’s SCAN.)

Tim Kowal is an appellate specialist certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Tim helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at, and publishes summaries of cases and appellate tips for trial attorneys at Contact Tim at or (714) 641-1232.

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