November 2022 General Election: Judicial Offices
Table of Contents
California State Court of Appeal, Fifth District
The Fifth District Court of Appeal is one of six state appellate courts in California. It was created in 1961 and is composed of nine counties located in central California: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne.
Ten justices sit on the California Fifth District Court of Appeal. Three of them are listed on the November ballot for retention to their positions: Administrative Presiding Justice Brad R. Hill, Associate Justice Bert Levy, and Associate Justice Jennifer Detjen.
Justices Seeking Election
- Brad R. Hill – Administrative Presiding Justice
- Bert Levy – Associate Justice
- Jennifer Detjen – Associate Justice
The Court of Appeal has the appellate jurisdiction to review most orders or judgments from the state trial courts.* That review is based on the record from the trial or proceeding in the superior court and addresses questions of law, such as whether the superior court judge applied the law correctly in a case. Additionally, petitions for writs, such as habeas corpus (challenging confinement), mandamus (compelling an official duty), certiorari (review of judicial action), and prohibition (restraint of action) are reviewed. Between 2020 and 2021, the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued more than 4,000 rulings.
Additional information about the Fifth District Court of Appeal, and its work, can be found at https://www.courts.ca.gov/5dca.htm.
- The Fifth District Court of Appeal was the first Court of Appeal in the state to livestream its oral arguments, providing all persons with Internet access the ability to observe court proceedings remotely.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal led development of and launched a uniform self-help website (California Appellate Courts Self-Help Resource Center || https://selfhelp.appellate.courts.ca.gov), in both English and Spanish, to explain the appellate court process to those coming to court without an attorney. The website informs court users and attorneys and is a resource for all Californians representing themselves at the appellate level.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal led in the creation and implementation of the software platform Transcript Assembly Program (TAP) which is used by trial courts throughout California. Court clerks no longer need to compile paper transcripts—which can top tens of thousands of pages—in cases being appealed. The program creates a searchable, indexed PDF with bookmarks and hyperlinks and sends it electronically to the appellate court reviewing the case or to the Supreme Court. This software has cut the time and cost of creating and transmitting appellate records.
The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, said that both the self-help website and the TAP program have helped to “expand access to justice by reducing the number of appellate cases rejected because of a technicality, such as a missed deadline or incorrect paperwork. ‘This is a tremendous leap forward,’ Cantil-Sakauye said, adding it will help ensure the public has the best chance ‘of having their case actually heard on the merits.’” (https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/innovation-click-or-tap)
The Fifth District Court of Appeal did not suspend court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic but, instead, continued serving the public safely and effectively. Besides technological developments allowing pleadings to be filed electronically, the Court’s administrative staff reached out to assist both pro-per litigants and legal counsel to be seen and heard at oral argument.
Although the Fifth District Court of Appeal justices are again attending oral arguments in person, the courtroom’s technology has been upgraded to allow parties to choose to appear either in person or electronically.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal has been working diligently to digitize all its paper case files, allowing pro-per litigants and legal counsel quicker and easier access to their documents and eliminating the need to travel to the courthouse to view records.
* The primary exception is judgments of death; those are automatically appealed directly to the California Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal also does not review decisions that are within the jurisdiction of the appellate division of the superior courts (state trial courts), such as misdemeanor convictions and limited civil cases.
Appellate court justices are nominated by the Governor and must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments before taking the oath of office. They face voter confirmation during retention elections which means the voters decide whether the justice should be retained in office for the term provided by law.
The Commission consists of three members: the Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, and the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Court.