Court LogoSuperior Court of California, County of San Joaquin
Stockton Branch, Administration
222 E. Weber Avenue, Room 303
Stockton, CA 95202
September 18, 2002Voice: (209) 468-8120
Pager: (209) 982-8528


Public is Invited.

When: 9:00 a.m. Thursday, September 26, 2002.

Where: Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, 1621 Brookside Road, Stockton

(Note: Justices will be available for interviews after student Q&A session.)

For the first time, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District will hear oral arguments in San Joaquin County, an event designed to be an educational experience for high school students.

As part of its award-winning outreach program, the justices will hear arguments in front of hundreds of high school students. Four cases will be heard, all originating from the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Copies of the briefs and synopses of the cases will be provided to students and teachers in advance. Justices will meet with students and teachers during the day on September 25 and 26 to discuss the court's appellate process and function, and to answer questions. After the Court files its opinions on the cases, copies of the opinions will be forwarded to the schools for follow up discussions.

The Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, ordinarily holds oral argument at its courtroom in the Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento. Two years ago, the court began holding sessions at high schools in counties within the district. The Judicial Council acknowledged the court's outreach program last year by selecting it for a Ralph M. Kleps Improvement in the Administration of Justice Award.

Twenty-three counties comprise the Third Appellate District: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba.

For more information, call Deena C. Fawcett, Clerk/Administrator of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, at 916-654-0209.

Courts of Appeal

Established by a constitutional amendment in 1904, the Courts of Appeal are California's intermediate courts of review. California has six appellate districts, each with at least one division. The six appellate districts are composed of 19 divisions and 105 justices. District headquarters are: First District, San Francisco; Second District, Los Angeles; Third District, Sacramento; Fourth District Division One, San Diego; Fifth District, Fresno; and Sixth District, San Jose.

The Legislature has constitutional authority to create new Court of Appeal districts and divisions (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 3).


Delay and congestion in the courts has been an issue in California since the very early days of statehood. The first attempt to alleviate this difficulty occurred in 1862, when the number of Supreme Court justices was increased from three to five; in 1879, the number of justices was once again increased from five to seven, the number at which it still stands. Congestion in the Supreme Court persisted despite the increased number of justices, and the Legislature passed an act in 1885 to permit the Supreme Court to appoint three commissioners to assist the court. The original term of the commission was to be four years.

By 1889, the need for help had increased, and the commission was extended for another four years, with an increase to five in the number of commissioners. 1893 saw no diminution of litigation, and the Commission was extended for yet another four years. In 1897, the Legislature changed the term of the Commission to two years, necessitating renewing legislation at an accelerated level. At the thirty-fifth session of the Legislature, on March 14, 1903, an amendment was proposed to Article VI of the California Constitution to create a more lasting solution to the continuing problem of court congestion. The amendment proposed both the dissolution of the Supreme Court Commission and the creation of three District Courts of Appeal, defining their respective jurisdictons and their composition.

The First Appellate District was to sit in San Francisco; the Second Appellate District was to sit in Los Angeles; and the Third Appellate District was to sit in the State's capital city, Sacramento. Section 25 of the proposed amendment also provided for the abolition of the Supreme Court Commission upon the expiration of its then current term. Section 4 of the proposed amendment provided that upon ratification of the amendment, the Governor would appoint nine justices, three per district, to serve until the first Monday in January of 1907.

It further provided that at the 1906 election, the justices would be elected. Each district was to have one justice serve a 4-year term, one serve an 8-year term, and one serve a 12-year term, their length of service to be determined by drawing lots. At the same time, section 17 of Article VI of the Constitution was proposed to set the annual salary of the Justices of the District Courts of Appeal at $7,000. The Constitutional amendments were submitted to the voters and adopted November 8, 1904.

Membership and Qualifications:

Each division has a presiding justice and two or more associate justices, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. The same rules governing the selection of Supreme Court justices apply to those serving on the Courts of Appeal.

Original, Appellate Jurisdiction:

Courts of Appeal have appellate jurisdiction when superior courts have original jurisdiction, and in certain other cases prescribed by statute. Like the Supreme Court, they have original jurisdiction in habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, and prohibition proceedings (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 10). Over 25,000 appeals and original proceedings were filed in the Courts of Appeal during the 1994/95 fiscal year.

The Courts of Appeal also receive appeals (technically, writ proceedings) from decisions of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, the Agricultural Relations Appeals Board, and the Public Employment Relations Board.

Cases are decided by three-judge panels. Decisions of the panels, known as opinions, are published in the California Appellate Reports if those opinions meet certain criteria for publication. In general, the opinion is published if it establishes a new rule of law, involves a legal issue of continuing public interest, criticizes existing law, or makes a significant contribution to legal literature (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 14; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 976). During fiscal year l994/95, 8 percent of Court of Appeal opinions were certified as meeting the criteria for publication.