Is Filing a Petition for Review of an Unpublished Opinion Hopeless (Part 1 – Civil)?

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
December 16, 2020

One bit of conventional wisdom that’s frequently heard about appellate review in California is that if a Court of Appeal opinion isn’t published, seeking Supreme Court review is a hopeless task.  This week, we’re looking at the data to see if that’s true – civil cases in this post, criminal in the next.

The short answer is – it isn’t.  In 1990, one-third of the Court’s civil cases were unpublished below.  That dropped to 15% in 1991 but was between 25 and 45% from 1992 to 2005.  In 2006, the unpublished share was 22.64%, and in 2007 it dropped a bit to 21.43%.  In 2008, it dropped to its lowest level: 12.5%.  But then it headed upwards again.  The unpublished share was 20.45% in 2009, 28.57% in 2010, 30.3% in 2011 and 31.25% in 2013.  It’s been down just a bit since then, but still significant: 17.39% (2014), 12.5% (2015), 19.44% (2016), 21.43% (2017), 21.21% (2018), 29.27% (2019) and 28.57% so far this year.

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