Manatt Appellate Co-Chair Talks to Daily Journal on State Court's Unanimity
"Research Shows the California Supreme Court is Unusually In Sync"
September 6, 2012 - Manatt's Benjamin Shatz, co-chair of the firm's Appellate Practice, spoke to the Daily Journal about the California Supreme Court's unusually high unanimity rate.
As reported by the Daily Journal, the California Supreme Court has a higher unanimity rate in comparison to other state supreme courts. A new study by Gerald Uelmen of Santa Clara University School of Law found that 87 percent of the California Supreme Court's decisions from June 1, 2011 to July 30, 2012, were unanimous. Though Uelmen's numbers don't capture the high number of separate opinions issued or the divided rulings of the past two months, other influential courts tend to have unanimity rates closer to 50 percent. For example, the Supreme Court of Washington had a 59 percent unanimity rate in 2011, according to a study by the Freedom Foundation.
"It just seems to me there are too many cases that are unanimous from the California Supreme Court," said Shatz.
"And the reason I say that is because the California Supreme Court is supposed to take the toughest, most interesting issues - those hard, thorny legal questions," he said. "And then we sometimes wait for years for a resolution, and when it comes out it's a 7-0 decision, and then you're left scratching your head saying, 'If this was such a difficult question then weren't there nuances worth exploring that would be valuable in a dissenting or concurring opinion."