Miranda Show Prints Available For Purchase

Prints from the Alameda County Law Library exhibit –  Miranda: More than Words by Jason Oberbeck – are available for purchase.

Prints of Oberbeck’s original works, inspired by the United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, are now available for sale at $10.00 each.

The high quality reproductions are 18 x 12.5 inches in size.

Please ask about them at the Oakland Reference Desk.

The show continues to June 24.  Open during regular library hours.  MWF ~ 8:30 to 6:00, T/Th ~ 8:30 to 9:00.



Miranda More than Words flyer rev 4-18-16 B

Appellate Division – California Superior Court

Appellate Division, California Superior Court

The American court system is structured in levels – trial and appellate for review.  The individual tiers can vary in names, as well as, procedures depending of the court system – individual state or federal.  The resources available at Alameda County Law Library focus on appellate cases. Within those opinions, the researcher can trace the courts’ rulings for precedents that shape California law.  There is a less well-known level of court appellate rulings within the California court system –  not one frequently referred to within Westlaw or Lexis files – the appellate division of the California Superior Court.

Historical background

Limited civil cases (valued under $25,000) filed in California Superior Courts were formerly within the jurisdiction of the old municipal courts.  The municipal courts ceased to exist upon their unification with the Superior Courts after the passage of California Proposition 220 in 1998.  Proposition 220 created an appellate division of the Superior Court, which replaced the previously existing Appellate Department, but the retained for the new division the same jurisdictional authority.

As described in Witkin California Procedure

The unification of trial courts was proposed by Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 4 of the 1995-1996 Legislature, which authorized the unification of the municipal and superior court within a county by a vote of the municipal and superior court judges.  The measure appeared on the ballot as Proposition 220 and was approved by the voters on June 2, 1998 (2 Witkin, Cal. Proc. 5th (2008) Courts, § 166, p. 238)

In Alameda County, the judges affirmed the changes effective July 31, 1998.  Under the terms of Proposition 220, the vote to unify transferred Municipal Court functions to the Superior Court, eliminated the six former Municipal Court Districts in Alameda County, and consolidated case jurisdiction, judges and staff of the Municipal Courts with the Alameda County Superior Court.

The California Constitution, Art. VI, §11 now reads –

(a) The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction when judgment of death has been pronounced. With that exception courts of appeal have appellate jurisdiction when superior courts have original jurisdiction in causes of a type within the appellate jurisdiction of the courts of appeal on June 30, 1995, and in other causes prescribed by statute. When appellate jurisdiction in civil causes is determined by the amount in controversy, the Legislature may change the appellate jurisdiction of the courts of appeal by changing the jurisdictional amount in controversy.

(b) Except as provided in subdivision (a), the appellate division of the superior court has appellate jurisdiction in causes prescribed by statute.

(c) The Legislature may permit courts exercising appellate jurisdiction to take evidence and make findings of fact when jury trial is waived or not a matter of right.

(Sec. 11 amended June 2, 1998, by Prop. 220. Res.Ch. 36, 1996.)

Witkin goes on to say:

As part of the unification of trial courts …, the former appellate department was renamed the appellate division in 1998. The California Law Revision Commission explains the change: “The appellate division is similar to the existing appellate department, but is intended to have greater autonomy so that it can exercise a true review function in a unified superior court. … Under prior law, the appellate jurisdiction of the superior court was defined in terms of causes ‘that arise in municipal courts in their counties.’ … The proposed law would make clear that the appellate jurisdiction of the appellate division covers limited civil cases and misdemeanor and infraction cases—causes traditionally within the original jurisdiction of the municipal courts—regardless of whether the courts in a county have unified.” (28 Cal. Law Rev. Com. Reports, p. 74.)  (2 Witkin, Cal. Proc. 5th (2008) Courts, § 339, p. 430)
Appellate Jurisdiction

The appellate division has jurisdiction on appeal “in all cases in which an appeal may be taken to the superior court or the appellate division of the superior court as provided by law, except where the appeal is a retrial in the superior court.” (C.C.P. 77(e)) The powers of the appellate division are those provided by law or by the Rules of Court relating to appeals to the appellate division. (C.C.P. 77(f)); see Whittaker v. Superior Court (1968) 68 C.2d 357, 66 C.R. 710, 438 P.2d 358.) (See C.C.P. 904.2 [appeal in limited civil case is to appellate division].)

The appellate jurisdiction of the superior court is wholly statutory. Under the former wording of Vehicle Code. 40230, judicial review of a parking violation was provided by an appeal to the municipal court.  Lagos v. Oakland (1995) 41 C.A.4th Supp. 10, 12, 49 C.R.2d 203, held that, in the absence of an express statutory provision for a further appeal, there was no right to appeal the municipal court judgment to the appellate department of the superior court. (See Smith v. Los Angeles Dept. of Trans. (1997) 59 C.A.4th Supp. 7, 8, 73 C.R.2d 838.)  As part of the unification of trial courts, Veh.C. 40230 was amended in 1998 to provide for appeal to the superior court.  (2 Witkin, Cal. Proc. 5th (2008) Courts, § 341, p. 432-433)

A good resource for researching the details of the procedures of the appellate division is the Rutter Guide, Civil Appeals & Writs, Chapter 16, “Appeals to the Superior Court” (available at ACLL locations using Westlaw under Secondary Sources>California Secondary Sources>Rutter Group Publications.)

Cases Heard by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court

In a limited civil case valued under $25,000, the court hearing the appeal is the appellate division of the superior court and the lower court—called the “trial court”—is the superior court.  Here is a quick review of the types of cases are appealed to the Superior Courts of California –

  • Limited  – Limited Civil (valued under $25,000) case category is composed of general civil cases seeking monetary damages
    up to $25,000. It has more filings than any other civil case type.
  • Individual case types within this case category are as follows:
    • Auto Torts • Employment • Other Personal Injury/ Property Damage/Wrongful Death • Enforcement of Judgment
    • Unlawful Detainers • Other Tort • Judicial Review • Other Civil • Complex Litigation • Contracts • Small Claims Appeals
    • Real Property
  • Misdemeanors – crimes that can be punished by jail time up to one year, but not by time in state prison
  • Infractions – crimes that can be punished by a fine, traffic school, or some other community service
The appellate division will not consider new evidence, such as the testimony of new witnesses or new exhibits. The appellate division’s job is to review a record of what happened in the trial court and the trial court’s decision to see if certain kinds of legal errors were made:
  • Prejudicial error
  • No substantial evidence

The appellate division generally will not overturn the judgment, order, or other decision being appealed unless the record clearly shows that one of these legal
errors was made.

More information is available from the California Judicial Council site – http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/app101info.pdf , “Information on Appeals of Limited Civil Cases to the Appellate Division.”   Also on the site are information sheets for misdemeanors (cr131info) and infractions (cr141info_infractions.)  Judicial Council forms for use in appellate division proceedings can also be found under the Forms tab on this site.

For those who have a matter in the appellate division, CA Rules of Court Rule 8.800 et seq apply to appeals from the superior court to the appellate division.
But not appeals from the small claims court

The appeal in the superior court consists of a new hearing before a judicial officer other than the one who heard the action in the small claims division. (C.C.P. 116.770(a)  It includes the claims of all parties who were parties at the time the notice of appeal was filed and the claim of a defendant that was heard in the small claims court. (C.C.P. 116.770(d)  (2 Witkin, Cal. Proc. 5th (2008) Courts, § 316, p. 408)

Published Appellate Division opinions and rulings

Why are appellate division cases of interest to researchers? The stakes are not as high as in unlimited cases.  Researchers who follow the development of California real property law and “the new economy”  might be one group interested in appellate opinions.  Landlord-tenant appeals are heard by the court’s appellate division.

Here is an example of an interesting case heard by the appellate division level:

In April 2016,  there was a decision out of Los Angeles Superior Court discussing the eviction of tenants for short term subletting of an apartment.  The case, Chen v. Kraft, 243 CA 4th Supp 13, 243 CA4th_ supp_13_JAD16-01 involved landlord-tenant law, local ordinances, and Airbnb.  (A more complete discussion of the case can be found on CEB’s Blog LINK HERE.   In Kraft, the court found that the local ordinances made the provision in the lease that allowed for short term subletting an illegal contract, which was unenforceable by the tenant, who then couldn’t defend the eviction on contractual grounds.  Interesting but quirky.  More of these types of cases may be heard in the future.

How to access

Here is a research tip for free viewing of published appellate decisions and rulings from appellate divisions across the state.  Only those opinions that have been certified for publication by the court may be available on the California Courts’ website.  Availability is limited by date.

  • On the Judicial Councils site, under the Opinions tab, there is a drop down menu.  Select Published/Citable Opinions
  • Look in the middle of the next screen for the phrase  – “Last 100 hours.”  Next to it is an down arrow.  Click on the arrow.  A drop down menu list appears.  At the very bottom of the drop down men, you will see “Appellate Division.” Click to highlight.  A list appears of documents with icons – either PDF or Word – for viewing.
  • Slip opinions from the last 120 days are posted together on this page as public information about actions taken by the courts.



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SOS – Save Our Shelves

SOS – Save Our Shelves (and publications, staff positions, and hours)

The California Governor’s Budget May Revision will be released this week.  Help for California county law libraries will be missing from that document.  The Council of California County Law Librarians’ request for financial assistance in face of drastic revenue reductions over the past decade has not been heard.  Yet.  The pleas cal_state_assemblydirected toward Sacramento for financial aid for county law libraries need to be louder, stronger –  dare I say it –  the voices need to be HUGE.

County law libraries have been funded historically by a share of local civil case filing fees.  The dollars the libraries now receive have dropped 40% over the past few years while the costs for purchasing legal resources have soared.  To make up for the drop in revenues, the libraries are asking to receive, for the first time, a small share in state tax revenues.

We need letters!!

In order to be influential for the current budget planning process, any letters from supporters will need to get to the Governor and appropriate government decision makers within the next two weeks.  We need your help if any financial relief is to be included in next fiscal year’s final state budget.

It has been suggested that library supporters should focus on contacting:

since they will negotiate the final budget with Governor Brown’s staff.

Also, since the budget will be voted on by the Budget Committees in each state legislative house prior to going to a conference committee, it would be great if cal_state_senatesupporters would contact:

And finally, it was suggested that County Supervisors (individually, if not as a body) might be willing to contact the leaders in Sacramento to support the county law libraries’ cause.  We urge you to approach your supervisors and ask them for a letter of support.

Other suggested contacts include –

Michael Cohen, Director of the California Department of Finance – michael.cohen@dof.ca.gov
Senator Jim Nielsen, Vice-Chair, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee – http://nielsen.cssrc.us/content/my-offices
Assembly Member Travis Allen, Vice-Chair, Assembly Budget Committee – https://lcmspubcontact.lc.ca.gov/PublicLCMS/ContactPopup.php?district=AD72

But, but… What should I say?

Open the following link for some suggestions for text for your emails or letters –  letter_support_county_law_libraries

Thank you for your assistance with keeping California county law libraries thriving and able to serve the needs of their many patrons.

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National Small Business Week – Library Resources For the Entrepreneur

National Small Business Week

by Eric Yap, Alameda County Law Library

This week, May 1-7, 2016, is National Small Business Week, a celebration of the achievements and contributions of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Small businesses are especially important in the East Bay.  According to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, small businesses account for 45.5% of employment in the East Bay, a higher percentage than either San Francisco or the South Bay.oak058046national

At Alameda County Law Library, we provide print and online resources that help small business owners every week of the year.  Patrons rely on these resources to get their businesses off the ground, choose the form of corporate entity that best suits their situation, understand business contracts, negotiate leases, and comply with employment laws.

Print resources for small business

Some popular small business print resources are:

Getting started:

The Small Business Start-Up Kit for California by Peri Pakroo
Call Number: KFC 84 B87 P35 2014 (Self-Help Area)
The Start-up Kit has materials on writing an effective business plan, picking and protecting the business name, getting licenses and permits, pricing and bidding on projects, creating business websites, and complying with legal and tax requirements for home businesses. The Kit also includes California legal forms.

Legal Guide for Starting and Running a Small Business  by Fred S. Steingold
Call Number: KF 1659 .S745 2013 (Self-Help Area)
The topics covered in this title include raising startup capital; buying or selling a business or franchise; obtaining permits and licenses; negotiating the lease; hiring independent contractors; and insuring the business.

Choosing the form of business entity:

LLC or Corporation? by Anthony Mancuso
Call Number: KF 1380 .M364 2014 (Self-Help Area)
This book provides information to guide business owners on choosing the form of entity for the new business. It covers the basics of business entities; how each business entity provides protection against personal liability; profits, losses and tax issues; converting from one type of business entity to another; conducting business out of state, etc.

Form a Partnership by Denis Clifford; Ralph Warner
Call Number: KF 1375 Z9 C55 2008 (Self-Help Area)
A Nolo title that provides information on legal and practical issues involved in forming a business partnership, including financial and tax liability of partners, cash and property contributions, valuation of partnership assets, buying out a partner, admitting new partners, limited partnerships, and more.

Business forms:

Business Transactions (California Transactions Forms) by Alan Gutterman
Call Number: KF 801 .Z9 S75 2010
This collection has sample forms that can be modified for use in buying and selling a business, commercial leases, sales transactions, indemnity agreements, employment contracts, and more.

Employment law:

California Employment Law by Douglas J. Farmer
Call Number: KFC 556 .F37 2013
A single volume title that provides comprehensive coverage of employment law in California, including hiring, wage and hour, leaves of absence, terminations, discrimination and harassment, disability in the workplace, and other topics important to small businesses with employees.

Leasing issues:

Office Leasing:

Negotiating and Drafting the Lease by Margaret Adams, et al. (Continuing Education of the Bar)
Call Number: KFC 147 C6 O44 1996
This CEB guide provides information on how to negotiate and draft an office lease. It includes model clauses for letters of credit, base and additional rent, security deposit, assignment and subleasing, expanding the premises, utilities and service, repairs and maintenance, indemnification and insurance, and other topics relating to office leases.

In addition to these print resources, many small business resources are available online at the library.  CEB guides, including guides on Forming and Operating California Limited Liability Companies, Organizing Corporations in California, and Selecting and Forming Business Entities are available through the OnLaw database.  Nolo’s self-help guides can be accessed at the library or at home using our subscription to the Nolo EBSCO database.   We also provide access to legal guides and forms on a variety of business topics through WestlawNext and LexisAdvance.

If you are an entrepreneur thinking of starting a business, a business owner, or just need information on topics relating to small business, do visit Alameda County Law Library and check out our small business resources!


For more information on local events – INFO HERE

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