Petitioning for Review in the California Supreme Court

A dissatisfied party does not have an automatic right to California Supreme Court review of a civil appeal. Specific rules address the types of cases the Court will accept. If you did not receive the desired outcome in your California Court of Appeal case, you must consider whether California Supreme Court review is necessary or advisable. Gusdorff Law understands the complexities of petitioning for review in the California Supreme Court. We’re ready to discuss your appellate matter today.

The basics of petitioning for Supreme Court review

There is no automatic right to be heard on civil cases in the California Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a party may petition for a review of a Court of Appeal decision. Another party to the appeal may file an answer to such a petition. The answering party can also ask the Supreme Court to review additional issues in the event the petition is granted. Finally, the original petitioner may file a reply to the answer.

Grounds for Supreme Court review of a Court of Appeal decision include:

  • To secure uniformity of decision or settle an important question of law
  • When the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction
  • When the Court of Appeal decision lacked the concurrence of sufficient qualified justices
  • For the purpose of transferring the matter to the Court of Appeal for such proceedings as the Supreme Court may order

A petition for review must be served and filed within 10 days after the Court of Appeal decision is final. The time to file a petition for review may not be extended. However, the Chief Justice may relieve a party from a failure to file a timely petition for review. This may be done if the time for the Court to order review on its own motion has not expired.

Any answer must be served and filed within 20 days after the petition is filed. Any reply to the answer must be served and filed within 10 days of the answer.

The petition for Supreme Court review of a civil case must contain:

  • A non-argumentative statement of the issues presented
  • A concise statement of the grounds for review
  • Whether a petition for rehearing was filed in the Court of Appeal, and the outcome thereof
  • A copy of the Court of Appeal decision
  • Title of the case and designation of the parties (identical to that used in the Court of Appeal case)

If the answering party raises additional issues for review, it must present them in a non-argumentative manner.

There are word count limits to, and requirements for, these pleadings. They are:

  • 8,400 words, including footnotes, for the petition and answer
  • 4,200 word, including footnotes, for the reply
  • The pleading must contain a statement of the word count

The Supreme Court may decide any issues that are raised or fairly included in the petition or answer. But the Court may also decide an issue that is neither raised nor fairly included in the petition or answer so long as the Court provides the parties reasonable notice and opportunity to brief and argue the new issue. It is not necessary that the Court decide every issue the parties raise or that the court specifies.

Upon accepting the case for hearing, the Supreme Court will usually affirm, reverse, or modify the Court of Appeal decision. Other possible dispositions include:

  • Dismissal of review
  • Remand for decision on issues not decided
  • Transfer of the matter to the Court of Appeal with instructions
  • Transfer of the matter to the Court of Appeal after initially transferring the matter to itself

The above are by no means the only rules. However, an experienced California civil appellate attorney can explain other requirements. Are you considering a Supreme Court review of your appellate matter? Reach out to Janet Gusdorff and Gusdorff Law to learn more.

 

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