All posts by Paul J. Killion

Paul J. Killion

About Paul J. Killion

Paul Killion is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris and a appellate specialist certified by the State Bar of California. Read Paul's bio.

COVID-19 and Emergency Extensions of Time in California State Courts (Just In Case)

In these troubling times of COVID-19, it’s useful to be reminded that the California Rules of Court have for some time contained provisions addressing extensions of time based on public emergencies and the illness of counsel.

Two rules in particular speak to this issue. Rule 8.63 of the California Rules of Court directs that the court “must consider” “illness of counsel” or “a personal emergency,” among many other factors, in determining good cause for a requested extension of time. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.63(b) (10).) The rule also directs that “[i]f good cause is shown, the court must extend the time.” (Rule 8.63(a)(3).) And on a broader scale, Rule 8.66 authorizes the Chair of the Judicial Council (i.e., the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court) to extend the time “to do any act required or permitted under the rules” up to 60 days on a statewide basis, if necessary.

Here’s the text of the rules:
Rule 8.63. Policies and factors governing extensions of time
(a) Policies
(1) The time limits prescribed by these rules should generally be met to ensure expeditious conduct of appellate business and public confidence in the efficient administration of appellate justice.
(2) The effective assistance of counsel to which a party is entitled includes adequate time for counsel to prepare briefs or other documents that fully advance the party’s interests. Adequate time also allows the preparation of accurate, clear, concise, and complete submissions that assist the courts.
(3) For a variety of legitimate reasons, counsel may not always be able to prepare briefs or other documents within the time specified in the rules of court. To balance the competing policies stated in (1) and (2), applications to extend time in the reviewing courts must demonstrate good cause-or an exceptional showing of good cause, when required by these rules-under (b). If good cause is shown, the court must extend the time.
(b) Factors considered
In determining good cause-or an exceptional showing of good cause, when required by these rules-the court must consider the following factors when applicable:
(1) The degree of prejudice, if any, to any party from a grant or denial of the extension. A party claiming prejudice must support the claim in detail.
(2) In a civil case, the positions of the client and any opponent with regard to the extension.
(3) The length of the record, including the number of relevant trial exhibits. A party relying on this factor must specify the length of the record. In a civil case, a record containing one volume of clerk’s transcript or appendix and two volumes of reporter’s transcript is considered an average-length record.
(4) The number and complexity of the issues raised. A party relying on this factor must specify the issues.
(5) Whether there are settlement negotiations and, if so, how far they have progressed and when they might be completed.
(6) Whether the case is entitled to priority.
(7) Whether counsel responsible for preparing the document is new to the case.
(8) Whether other counsel or the client needs additional time to review the document.
(9) Whether counsel responsible for preparing the document has other time-limited commitments that prevent timely filing of the document. Mere conclusory statements that more time is needed because of other pressing business will not suffice. Good cause requires a specific showing of other obligations of counsel that:
(A) Have deadlines that as a practical matter preclude filing the document by the due date without impairing its quality; or
(B) Arise from cases entitled to priority.
(10) Illness of counsel, a personal emergency, or a planned vacation that counsel did not reasonably expect to conflict with the due date and cannot reasonably rearrange.
(11) Any other factor that constitutes good cause in the context of the case.

Rule 8.66. Extending time because of public emergency
(a) Emergency extensions of time
If made necessary by the occurrence or danger of an earthquake, fire, or other public emergency, or by the destruction of or danger to a building housing a reviewing court, the Chair of the Judicial Council, notwithstanding any other rule in this title, may:
(1) Extend by no more than 14 additional days the time to do any act required or permitted under these rules; or
(2) Authorize specified courts to extend by no more than 30 additional days the time to do any act required or permitted under these rules.
(b) Applicability of order
(1) An order under (a) must specify whether it applies throughout the state, only to specified courts, or only to courts or attorneys in specified geographic areas, or applies in some other manner.

How Long Does a Ninth Circuit Civil Appeal Take?

So how long does a Ninth Circuit civil appeal take? Using the most recent statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2017 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, the median time from notice of appeal to decision in the Ninth Circuit was 22.8 months (and that is just the median time–half the appeals take longer.) (See Table B-4A to the report.) The next slowest circuit—the Third Circuit—handles civil appeals in just about the same length of time: 22.3 months from notice of appeal to final decision. (The Third Circuit’s disposition time is puzzling because it is usually closer to the median.) The 2017 median time from notice of appeal to decision across all Circuits is 12.1 months.

The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit geographically, and it remains the busiest, with 11,096 appeals filed in the year ending September 30, 2017. The next busiest circuit—the Fifth—had 7,099 appeals filed in the same period. Measured by matters terminated on the merits per active judge and per panel, however, the Ninth Circuit ranked third among the circuits for the year ending September 30, 2017, with 463 merits-based terminations per judge and 771 per panel. The circuit with the heaviest workload, using this same measurement, is the Eleventh Circuit, with 762 merits-based dispositions per judge and 904 per panel. The lowest terminations per active judge is DC Circuit, with 137 per judge, and 131 per panel.

How Long Does a California Civil Appeal Take?

Based on the 2017 California Court Statistics Report, the statewide median time from the notice of appeal in a civil case to the filing of the Court of Appeal’s opinion is 506 days (about 17 months), with 90% of appeals processed within 842 days (28 months). But the median times differ substantially between California’s six appellate districts, and even between divisions within districts. Currently, the fastest California appellate court is Division 5 of the Second District in Los Angeles, with a median time of 404 days to process a civil appeal from the notice of appeal to the filing of the decision. Ninety percent of all civil appeals in Division Five are processed in 622 days.

At the other end of the spectrum is currently the Sixth District in San Jose, with a median time of 731 days (a little over two years) to process a civil appeal from the notice of appeal to the filing of the decision. Ninety percent of all civil appeals in the Sixth District are processed in 1,168 days (a little over 3 years).

The complete 2017 Court Statistics can be found here.

And while we’re discussing statistics, what are your chances for success on appeal? For civil appeals terminated by a written opinion in FY 2015-16, 17% were reversed. And if you decide to seek review in the California Supreme Court, less than 4% of petitions for review were granted by the Supreme Court in 2015-16.

How Long Does a California Civil Appeal Take?

Based on 2016 California court statistics, the time from the notice of appeal in a civil case to the filing of the Court of Appeal’s opinion differs substantially between California’s six appellate districts, and even between divisions within districts. The fastest California appellate court currently is Division 6 of the Second District in Ventura, with a median time of 423 days (a little over 14 months) to process a civil appeal from the notice of appeal to the filing of the decision. Ninety percent of all civil appeals in the court are processed in 667 days (a little over 22 months).

At the other end of the spectrum is the Third District in Sacramento, with a median time of 693 days (a little over 23 months) to process a civil appeal from the notice of appeal to the filing of the decision. Ninety percent of all civil appeals in the Third District are processed in 1,107 days (a little over 3 years).

Statewide, the median time to process civil appeals for all California appellate courts is 518 days (a little over 17 months), with ninety percent of all civil appeals processed statewide on average in 846 days (a little over 28 months).

Why the discrepancy between courts? Filings per justice explain much, but so does backlog. The Third District, for example, has far and away the largest number of pending appeals per justice.

And while we’re discussing statistics, what are your chances for success on appeal? If you’re the appellant, they’re pretty slim. Only 10% of civil appeals were reversed statewide in 2014-15. And if you decide to seek review in the California Supreme Court, it’s even more of a longshot—only 6% of petitions for review from civil appeals were granted by the Supreme Court in 2014-15.

The complete 2016 statistics can be found here.

How Long Will My Ninth Circuit Civil Appeal Take?

We hear that question frequently. Using the most recent statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2016 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, the median time from Appellee’s brief to oral argument in civil appeals terminated on the merits in the Ninth Circuit is 16.5 months, and from notice of appeal to decision is 25.5 months (and that is just the median time–half the appeals take longer.) (See Table B-4A.) This is the slowest of the circuits. The next slowest circuit—the DC Circuit—handles civil appeals in 3.8 months from Appellee’s brief to oral argument, and 11.7 months from notice of appeal to decision.

The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit geographically, and it remains the busiest, with 13,152 cases pending as of December 31, 2016. The next busiest circuit—the Fifth—had 5,252 cases pending as of the same date.  But measured by matters terminated on the merits per active judge, the Ninth Circuit is very much in the middle of the circuits, with 488 merits-based terminations per judge through December 31, 2016. The circuit with the heaviest workload, using this same measurement, is the Eleventh Circuit, with 1,151 merits-based dispositions per judge. The lowest terminations per active judge is the DC Circuit, with 163.

Two Important Insurance Matters Set For The California Supreme Court’s May Calendar

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court set two important and much anticipated insurance cases for May oral argument.

On May 26, 2015, the Court will hear argument in Fluor v. S.C. (Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company), No. S205889, which presents the following issue: Are the limitations on assignment of third party liability insurance policy benefits recognized in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 934 inconsistent with the provisions of Insurance Code section 520?

On May 28, 2015, the Court will hear argument in J.R. Marketing, L.L.C. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance, No. S211645, which presents a rare opportunity for guidance from the Supreme Court on independent Cumis counsel issues. The case present the following question: After an insured has secured a judgment requiring an insurer to provide independent counsel to the insured (see San Diego Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Society Inc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358), can the insurer seek reimbursement of defense fees and costs it considers unreasonable and unnecessary by pursuing a reimbursement action against independent counsel or can the insurer seek reimbursement only from its insured?

Both matters will be heard in San Francisco on the 9:00 a.m. calendars. Under California rules, the Supreme Court must issue its decisions in the matters within 90 days after the argument.

The Ninth Circuit’s Workload Shows

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts released its 2014 federal court statistics this month and it reveals some interesting aspects of the Ninth Circuit’s workload. Not only is the Ninth Circuit the largest circuit geographically, it remains by far the busiest, with 13,868 cases pending in 2014.  By contrast, the next busiest circuit—the Fifth—had 4,717 cases pending in 2014.  Based on these caseload statistics, it is not surprising  that appeals take longer in the Ninth Circuit than in the other Circuits.  As the statistics indicate, the Ninth Circuit’s median time from Appellee’s brief to oral argument in civil appeals is 13.6 months, and from notice of appeal to decision is 21.3 months (and  that is just the median time.)  By contrast, the next slowest circuit—the DC Circuit—handles civil appeals in 5.5 months from Appellee’s brief to oral argument, and 12.7 months from NOA to decision.

Don’t Wait Until Appeal To Respond To Your Opponent’s Evidentiary Objections

California appellate courts continue to work through application of Reid v. Google (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512 to evidentiary objections raised in summary judgment proceedings. For those facing this issue—either in the trial court or on appeal—a new decision by Division Three of the Second District is a must read. (Tarle v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. (2nd Dist., Div. 3, May 22, 2012 No. B224739) __Cal.App.4th__.)

Continue reading Don’t Wait Until Appeal To Respond To Your Opponent’s Evidentiary Objections

If You’ve Ever Encountered A Difficult Court Clerk, Here’s Your Case

If you have ever run into a court clerk who seems set on making things difficult, take comfort in a December 14, 2011 decision issued by the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District, Voit v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County, __Cal.App.4th__(December 14, 2011) (No. H037034). There, the clerk refused to accept for filing a request for appointment of counsel in a civil case submitted by an incarcerated and indigent individual. Four times Voit tried to get the Court to accept the filing and each time it was rejected for a claimed deficiency, the last few times with a note explaining that the court does not assign counsel for civil matters and requesting authority to the contrary.

Continue reading If You’ve Ever Encountered A Difficult Court Clerk, Here’s Your Case

The New Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court

Much has been written in the last year about California’s new Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who was sworn in January 3, 2011 to replace Chief Justice Ron George.

Here are five interesting facts about California’s Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye that caught our eye:
Continue reading The New Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court