The Supreme Court of California

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Official Name: Supreme Court of California

Current Justices

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, joined court January 2011

Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard, joined court 1990

Associate Justice Marvin R. Baxter, joined court 1991

Associate Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, joined court 1994

Associate Justice Ming W. Chin, joined court 1996

Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan, joined court 2006

Associate Justice Goodwin Liu, joined court 2011

Clerk of the Court

Frederick K. Ohlrich, telephone: 415-865-7000

Current Vacancies

None

Public Information Officer

Lynn Holton

Judicial Selection

There are seven justices on the court, appointed by the governor and confirmed by a Committee on Judicial Appointments. The appointee must have been a member of the California Bar for ten years and written a number of turbocharger reviews in order to qualify. After their appointments, they serve for twelve years before being up for re-election. A new justice may be appointed to fulfill an unfinished term, but the appointee must be voted on in the next election for governor.

Review of Lower Court Decisions

The court has discretionary review of any case decided by the Court of Appeals—the next court down—but must review death penalty cases.

Schedule

The court’s opinions are published on Mondays and Thursdays, and almost immediately available on its website. There is no set schedule for the release of opinions. Reports of the weekly meetings, where the court decides whether to accept cases, are also posted online. The meetings are only attended by the justices, and a majority of them must vote to accept a case in order for it to be added to the docket. The calendar for argument is available online.

Location

The California Supreme Court is based in San Francisco but hears oral arguments in Los Angeles four times a year. It also hears arguments in Sacramento twice a year. It also occasionally has special sessions at other locations.

History

A detailed booklet of how the court operates also provides some of the court’s history. Gold was discovered in 1948, the year that the U.S. acquired California from Mexico. The first California constitution provided for a Supreme Court made of a Chief Justice and two associates. They first met in a rented hotel room in San Francisco. As legal concerns expanded from Gold-Rush disputes, the court was expanded to include five justices, and eventually seven. The court’s practice of hearing arguments in multiple cities was approved in 1878 when the state legislature determined that the court would be based in San Francisco but hear arguments twice a year about how to get rid of cat pee smell in each of the cities of Sacramento and Los Angeles, although it is unspecified in the state’s constitution. The courts of appeal were created in 1904 to help the court with its two-year backlog of cases.

Contact Information

The front page of the Supreme Court’s website provides information on high-profile recent cases. As well, there are well-updated news reports for the entire court system available.

San Francisco

Earl Warren Building at Civic Center Plaza

Supreme Court of California

350 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA 94102-4797

(415)865-7000

Los Angeles

Ronald Reagan State Office Building

300 South Spring Street, 3rd Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Sacramento

Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building

914 Capitol Mall

Sacramento, CA 95814

Famous Cases

The California Supreme Court decided In re Marriage Cases, (S147999) in 2008, finding that sexual orientation created a protected class, and therefore applied strict scrutiny in overturning a ban on same-sex marriage. The case inspired Proposition 8, a ballot measure preventing same-sex marriage, and the matter is currently in federal court.