Archive for the ‘California Courts’ Category

Dress Code, Hard to Enforce?

1,April 1, 2014

According to the Chronicle, San Francisco Superior Court Executive Officer T. Michael Yuen decided to enforce the 1996 dress code to promote respect for the public and the judicial system. Approximately 90% of staff interacts with the public. He sent a memo in December 2013 to court staff.

From the San Francisco Superior Court dress and grooming standards:
“Employees must maintain a professional, business-like appearance appropriate for an institution that serves the public in the vital functioning of delivering justice.”

“The following is a non-exclusive list providing examples of what is not acceptable…
Tank tops, Cut-off shorts, Beach wear, Warm-ups, Thong-style sandals. “ Other examples given by Michael Yuen were sneakers, jeans, spandex and hoodies.

Some court staff has been written up, some sent home to change and some sent home without pay. The Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 has alleged the dress code is vague and arbitrarily enforced. It filed an unfair labor practice action before the California Labor Relations Board. On Thursday, February 20, 2014, SEIU members, court staff, and others picketed outside the courthouse. This county law library has the state of California  PERB (Public Employment Relations Board) Decisions and related  materials in print from the beginning in 1977. The more recent decisions and older decisions are shelved separately in the library. There is also a website at http://www.perb.ca.gov/.

On the court web site there is also some advice for jurors:
“DRESS FOR JURY SERVICE?
Proper attire is required. Dress as if you were going to a business meeting. Ties and business suits are not required. Please do not wear tank tops, shorts, beach sandals, etc. Temperatures in the Court facilities can vary. Please dress accordingly.”

California judges have a dress code provided by the state legislature. It is in the California Government Code § 68110 Judicial robes; use; style. That statute is supplemented by California Rules of Court, Rule 10.505 Judicial Robes.

California superior court documents…how and where to find them.

1,June 17, 2013

Have you ever tried to find documents from California courts and not known where to start? Now Karen Lasnick, Regional Manager of Library & Research Services at Bryan Cave LLP, has created a chart with links and instructions for finding court documents/dockets. A big thanks to Karen for sharing!
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California Courts Directory and Fee Schedule … and so much more!

1,December 17, 2012

California court directory and fee scheduleCalifornia Courts Directory and Fee Schedule … and so much more! It’s a handy compendium.

Are you trying to figure out which branch of a superior court to file your papers, DMV codes, the court fee schedule, court locations, county officers, sheriff service table and fees and not having much luck?

Here’s the easy answer…the California Courts Directory and Fee Schedule.  This annually published small book has a wealth of information.

Published by the California Court Association, you can find the answers quickly and easily. There’s also information which could be tricky to find, fees for bankruptcy and federal courts, probation department information, prisoner locator numbers for both state and federal facilities. Each time you look through it, you can find more information.  I just found the map of the counties and the list of county seats.

All this information is in a very small, handy to use package.

Ask for it at the Reference Desk and see for yourself.

* Library currently has 2012; 2013 due in library mid-January.

Post-Foreclosure Evictions: Procedural Guidance

1,June 14, 2011

Pursuant to CCP 1161a-1161c, special procedures apply when a mortgage lender or buyer of a foreclosed property seeks to initiate unlawful detainer proceedings against the former property owner or the tenants of the former owner.  Although these procedures must be followed carefully to avoid delay in the eviction process, many of the traditional landlord-tenant practice guides offer little guidance for evicting the former owner or their tenants.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Landlord-Tenant Litigation, a new title from LexisNexis, is the exception. The authors of this practice guide discuss in detail the procedures for eviction under CCP 1161, with citations to recent appellate decisions. Chapter 4, “Termination of Tenancy,” includes explanation of applicable notice periods and requirements for terminating the tenancy, which differ for the former owner and for any tenants of the former owner. Chapter 5, “Unlawful Detainer” reminds readers that they cannot use the standard Judicial Council Unlawful Detainer Complaint form to evict after foreclosure, but must draft a complaint form that incorporates specific elements and allegations. A template for a “Complaint to Evict Residential Tenant After Sale Under Writ of Execution pursuant to CCP 1161a” is provided. The authors also discuss perfection of title, and the effect of local rent control ordinances on a buyer’s ability to evict a tenant from a foreclosed property.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Landlord-Tenant Litigation is available at the Main Library in Oakland.

On Continuances and Professionalism

1,April 21, 2011

Pro pers and young attorneys are often surprised to learn that there are no California Judicial Council forms available to request a continuance for a trial or hearing.  The reasoning behind this stems in part from a statutory admonishment to discourage continuances in the Trial Court Delay Reduction Act (Gov. Code, § 68600, et seq.).  Pursuant to Government Code section 68607, subdivision (g), judges are required to “[a]dopt and utilize a firm, consistent policy against continuances, to the maximum extent possible and reasonable, in all stages of the litigation.”  Accordingly, a party seeking a continuance will have to draft a motion on pleading paper and comply with the rules promulgated by the California Supreme Court and Judicial Council under California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332

California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(d)(9) lists among the factors the courts consider in granting such a motion is if all parties have stipulated to the continuance.  Given the adversarial nature of judicial proceedings and acrimony that frequently arises, there might be a temptation to spite one’s opponent by refusing to consent to his or her request for a continuance.  Consider the following example from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.  Here attorney for the defense, Bryan Erman, requested a continuance because he was expecting his first child shortly before the commencement of the trial.  Despite the plaintiff’s counsel’s “lengthy and spirited” opposition to the motion, the judge granted the continuance.   In doing so, Judge Eric Melgren congratulated the expectant father and offered this admonishment to the attorneys:

Certainly this judge is convinced of the importance of federal court, but he has always tried not to confuse what he does with who he is, nor to distort the priorities of his day job with his life’s role.  Counsel are encouraged to order their priorities similarly.

Another federal judge, William S. Duffey, Jr., suggests that being civil toward one’s opponent can be rewarding in itself: “The incivility and hostility of litigation today not only makes this work more unpleasant, less satisfying, and less fulfilling, but it also serves as a barrier to what we are charged to do—to represent clients in the resolution of disputes by seeking just results.”  (On Encouraging Civility in A Life in the Law: Advice for young Lawyers (Duffey & Schneider, edits 2009) p. 59)  So before you go to the mattresses over your opponent’s request for a continuance, you might want to consider whether it’s really worth the effort—and make sure that you or your client will not need to request any favors from the other side. 

For Alameda County Law Library patrons who are seeking continuances, the library has a number of practice guides that may be useful for pro pers and attorneys.  For example, chapter 42 of CEB’s California Civil Procedure Before Trial, 4th ed., discusses the requirements and procedures and includes a sample notice and declaration.  And for newer attorneys, the library also has a display of titles offering practical advice for those beginning their careers.

New Web Design & URL for California Courts

1,January 1, 2011

January 2011 the California Courts web site will change from www.courtinfo.ca.gov to www.courts.ca.gov.

To Be Continued

1,November 30, 2010

Many of the patrons at the Alameda County Law Library seek information about continuances.  Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009) at page 363, column 1, defines a continuance as “The adjournment or postponement of a trial or other proceeding to a future date.”  According to California Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c), such motions are “disfavored.”  Nonetheless, courts have the discretion to grant them.  If you are seeking a continuance in California, several secondary sources can be extremely useful for understanding the substantive and procedural law and for seeing sample language for the required filings.  Particularly useful resources include:

  • Chapter 136 of California Forms of Pleading and Practice Annotated (Matthew Bender)
  • Chapter 42 of California Civil Procedure Before Trial (CEB)
  • Chapter 21 of California law and Motion: Model Forms (Rutter)  (sample notice of motion, memorandum, declaration and proposed order only)

As with California, other jurisdictions generally frown upon continuances but will grudgingly grant them.  Occasionally the grounds for granting one are so extraordinary as to make headlines.  One recent continuance granted by a Texas court has become fairly well-known in the Bay Area.  The court granted an emergency motion for continuance to Darrell Cook, an attorney and Texas Rangers fan who wanted to attend this year’s Major League Baseball World Series in San Francisco. 

Other examples of sports-related continuances include one from December 2009, where an Alabama Court granted a continuance so that the attorneys for a defendant could watch the Alabama Crimson Tide play the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.  In December of 2007, a Louisiana court granted a continuance when the Louisiana State University Tigers played the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.  Another Louisiana court granted a continuance in January of that year when the New Orleans Saints played Chicago Bears for the NFC championship.  Also in Louisiana and also involving the New Orleans Saints was a January 2010 order granting a continuance where the court took judicial notice of “Saintsmania” and recognized that that the presence of jurors, attorneys, and court personnel at the game would “enhance[] the chances of the Who Dat [sic] Nation to acquire the long sought after Holy Grail—the Vince Lombardi Trophy.”

While the South (Louisiana in particular) has led the way with regard to sports-related continuances, courts elsewhere have also granted continuances for unusual grounds.  Just last week, U.S. Judge Kimba Wood granted a continuance to a defense attorney to attend his grandchild’s bris, its circumcision, should it be born a boy.  Had it been a granddaughter, eliminating the need for the continuance, Judge Wood’s response stated that “there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.”

It should be noted, however, that attendance at a child’s bris soon may not be an option for some Bay Area attorneys and therefore not grounds for continuance.  A San Francisco group calling themselves intactivists are seeking to put a measure on next November’s ballot that would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise a child in that city.

Filing Fees going up

1,October 21, 2010

The new fee increases will be in effect in Alameda County Superior Courts on Monday, October 25, 2010.

From the publishers of Litigation by the Numbers:

The Governor has signed SB 857 and the new filing fees are now in effect. Each county will begin collection of the new fees as soon as they can update their systems.

 The new fees are outlined below:

1.   First appearance in an unlimited civil action (over $25,000.00), Family law petitions, and Probate petitions by plaintiff(s) and each defendant will increase to $395.00. This fee increase applies to all types of filings in which the previous fee was $355.00 (civil, probate, family, etc…) 

2.   First appearance in a limited action ($10,000.00 up to $25,000.00) by plaintiff(s) and each defendant will increase to $370.00

 3.   First appearance in a limited action (under $10,000.00) by plaintiff(s) and each defendant will increase to $220.00

 Note: The above fees do not include the additional fees required for Unlawful Detainer filings (additional $15.00) or the surcharges imposed in Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or the City and County of San Francisco. 

4.   Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication will increase to $500.00 

5.   Application by counsel to appear Pro Hac Vice will increase to $500.00

 6.   Adds an additional $3.00 penalty to every parking violation

 7.   Additional increases in various criminal penalties and traffic fines

 8.   A fee for telephonic appearances (a fee payable to the court in addition to fees paid to vendors). Fee has not been determined yet.

California Courts Add YouTube and Twitter

1,September 21, 2010

The California Courts have an extensive web site at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov with everything from Judicial Council forms  to information from the Self-Help Center in English and from the Centro de Ayuda in Spanish.  The site map is at  www.courtinfo.ca.gov/sitemap.htm and a tour at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/tour/. Now California Courts are posting to YouTube and tweeting.  To follow CalCourts on Twitter sign up at twitter.com/signup?follow=CalCourts. Look at some of the new courthouses being constructed by going to www.youtube.com/californiacourts  plus find out about becoming a court interpreter.

Research Your Judge in Print & Online

1,September 7, 2010

Hoping to gain insight into a judge‘s proclivities, preferences, and possible biases, attorneys and self-represented litigants scheduled to appear before a judge often seek out sources of biographical information that discuss the judges formative influences and experiences.

The law library maintains two major sources of judicial biographical information, Daily Journal Judicial Profiles, a compilation of judicial profiles that have appeared in the San Francisco Daily Journal and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and California Courts & Judges, a two-volume judicial directory published by James Publishing.

Daily Journal Judicial Profiles In addition to standard information about education and work history, the judicial profiles published by the Daily Journal frequently feature information about a judge‘s character and personal attributes, demeanor in the courtroom, hobbies and interests, pet peeves, community involvement, high profile cases, and attitude toward pro per litigants. Particularly illuminating are anecdotes from colleagues and the impressions of attorneys who have argued cases before the judge.

The law library maintains a complete collection of profiles for Northern California Superior Court judges, California Appellate and Supreme Court justices, California District Court judges, Ninth Circuit justices, and Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy judges.

California Courts & Judges, James Publishing
Organized alphabetically by last name, California Courts & Judges contains in-depth profiles of California state and federal trial and appellate judges and justices. In constructing the profiles, the authors solicit comments from district attorneys, public defenders, and attorneys who have tried cases before the judge. In the “Attorney’s Comments” section of each profile, the attorneys interviewed offer their perceptions concerning the judge‘s temperament/demeanor, intelligence/legal knowledge, handling of motions and continuances, effectiveness in facilitating settlements, prosecution or defense orientation, and courtroom management style. Profiles of retired judges and justices from California state, federal and bankruptcy courts are also included.

Web-Based Resources
The websites of the California state appellate courts and federal trial and appellate courts contain a wealth of factual information about sitting judges and justices that may be of interest to litigants, including their educational background, previous judicial appointments, professional experience, teaching experience, publications, memberships, and personal information.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of News From the Alameda County Law Library, the quarterly newsletter of the Alameda County Law Library: http://www.acgov.org/law/documents/Library_Newsletter_Winter2010.pdf


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