Inside the Nation’s Busiest Trial Court

While New York City is the largest municipality in the country by population, Los Angeles County is the most populous county. It’s also home to the nation’s single largest unified court system, Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court is spread over 33 courthouses and serves a countywide population of 9.7 million. Litigation analytics can reveal the nature of the cases in this state court, especially in contrast to the often higher-profile federal courts.

According to data from Docket Alarm, the Superior Court has seen over 1.2 million cases since the beginning of 2019. Like many courts, LA County Superior Court saw a serious dip in case filings in March, April, May and June 2020, the earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw courthouses shut down and litigation plummet. However, case filing activity has largely – but not completely – recovered to pre-pandemic levels. January 2020 saw 27,310 cases filed, while January 2024 saw 21,294.

On average, over the last five years, 27 cases are filed in Los Angeles County per hour.

The Central District of California is the federal District Court that serves Los Angeles Count, as well as six other counties in the region. That court has seen about 100,000 cases over the last five years, or about 10% of LA County state court activity.

State courts most frequently handle smaller cases, in comparison to federal court. Case type data indicates that the most frequent case type in Los Angeles County is Collections – Purchased Debt. Other collections-adjacent case types are in third and fourth place, while small claims generally is second place. Motor vehicle-related injuries are the fifth-most filed case type.

The list of most frequently appearing parties tracks the prevalance of collections cases, with the bulk of the top ten entities being in financial services. The County of Los Angeles itself is the only entity in the top ten not related to financial services.

While Los Angeles County Superior Court does not consistently report law firm data, the top-appearing attorneys focus on collections as well. The top two attorneys, Christopher Mandarich and Robert Scott Kenard, both tend to represent creditors according to their websites.