California Small Claims Court Trends and Statistics

Small Claims Court Gavel

Small Claims Court Gavel

A while back, the California Judiciary released their annual report regarding case filings.  Relevant to this site, of course are the small claims court statistics.  It’s interesting to note that over the past decade there has been a general downward trend (from 1999-00 through 2006-07).  In the recent years, the numbers have remained somewhat consistent, fluctuating within about 6,000 of each other.

Here are the statistics for the previous ten years:

  • 1999-2000–320,754
  • 2000-2001–308,466
  • 2001-2002–319,165
  • 2002-2003–315,148
  • 2003-2004–284,096
  • 2004-2005–256,086
  • 2005-2006–236,526
  • 2006-2007–224,485
  • 2007-2008–227,733
  • 2008-2009–232,378

We think the increase in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 is directly correlated to the state of the economy.  Sure foreclosures are up, but times are difficult for everyone (from people struggling to pay credit cards, rent, or other things.  Unfortunately, we thunk that when the 2009-2010 data is released, the number will be higher than the 232.378 we see for 2008-2009.

Looking at the appeals side, we’ve got data (that only goes back to 2003-2004).  Here’s our appeals data:

  • 2003-2004–10,793
  • 2004-2005–9,640
  • 2005-2006–9,081
  • 2006-2007–8,700
  • 2007-2008–9,031
  • 2008-2009–9,206

So why are we looking at this information?  Simple by dividing the number of small claims appeals by the number of cases for the year, we get the percentage of cases that are appealed.  Here’s the breakdown by year:

  • 2003-2004–3.79%
  • 2004-2005–3.76%
  • 2005-2006–3.83%
  • 2006-2007–3.87%
  • 2007-2008–3.96%
  • 2008-2009–3.96%

So, if you win, chances are good there won’t be an appeal by the defendant.

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