Q: I know receivers were appointed in England before even the merger of courts of law and equity, but when were receivers first appointed in California?
A: It is hard to say when a receiver was first appointed in California, given records are not generally kept of superior court orders for long. However, the first reported appellate decision involving a receiver appears to be Von Schmidt et. al v. Huntington et. al., 1 Cal. 55, decided in the Court’s March 1850 term. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s appointment of a receiver, in a corporate dissolution action, to liquidate and distribute the corporation’s assets. This was actually prior to the time California became a state, on September 9, 1850. The California Constitution of 1849 had established the Supreme Court, which initially consisted of a chief justice and two associate justices. It heard all appeals. It soon became overloaded and often decided cases saying only “affirmed” or “reversed”, without saying why. California’s second constitution, enacted in 1879, halted such dispositions, expressly requiring that every dispositive decision be in writing “with reasons stated.” While the Court was expanded to seven justices it was still overburdened and in 1904, a constitutional amendment was passed establishing the intermediate Courts of Appeal we have today. An expanded discussion of this history can be found in People v. Kelly, 40 Cal 4th 106 (2006).