Berkeley Balcony Collapse – Complaints Filed in Alameda County Superior Court – Culligan v. Black Rock, Inc

domainweb_headerComplaints were filed in Alameda County Superior Court this week to initiate negligence actions involving the recent deadly Berkeley, California balcony collapse.

A news article from the Bay Area News Group about the litigation can be read here.

For anyone interested in the causes of actions surrounding this incident, one of the complaints related to the disaster, Culligan v. Blackrock, Inc., RG1593019, can be read here – culliganvblackrock_acsup_complaint_rg1593019

The Alameda County Superior Court on-line public court records are kept behind a paywall.  But for the first week, new filings can be viewed without cost on the DomainWeb database.  A listing of documents with links can be can be viewed under the “Public Documents” link on the webpage.


Searches for information by case numbers are always available at no cost on the system.  Reading full text of the filings does require an on-line account and payment.

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Creating Pleadings – Alameda County Superior Court

On the Alameda County Law Library website, we have updated the word processing resources for pleadings and pleading paper.rcd_courthouse_OMuseumside

Now available is a template for use in drafting a pleading for the Alameda County Superior Court.

Also available on the same page is a companion instructional document with simple basic steps on to how to edit the template for a court filing.  The link is entitled  –  “How to Use Pleading Paper.”

Blank pleading paper –  ready to be edited using Microsoft Word – is also available on the page.

Below are the links from the ACLL “Forms” webpage –


How To Use Pleading Paper (PDF – 31kb) *

Blank Pleading Paper – Formatted for Alameda County (DOC – 24kb) *

Blank Pleading Paper (DOC – 31kb) *



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Traffic Tickets / Infractions Amnesty Program – Alameda County Superior Court

Traffic Tickets Amnesty Program – Alameda County – Starts October 1, 2015

Information sheet from Alameda County Superior Court’s website (with link to county form) HERE rcd_courthouse_OMuseumside

The following is some general information about the program —

WHEN?    One-time opportunity – beginning October 1, 2015, ending March 31, 2017

• Court order debt can be reduced by a significant discount, depends on income.
• Opportunity to get your driver’s license back.

WHO?    You may qualify to have your old, unpaid traffic fines and some state infractions — adult or juvenile — reduced by 50% or 80% if you meet the following guidelines:

IF —
1. The fine and any related fees were due before January 1, 2013;
2. You do not have any outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants in Alameda County;
3. You do not owe victim restitution on any case in Alameda County; and
4. You have not made any payments on your tickets since September 30, 2015.

The benefits of paying your traffic tickets through the Traffic Amnesty program include:

• Any Civil Assessments ($300 charge added for Failure to Appear and/or Failure to Pay) will be eliminated.

• If your driver’s license was suspended due to unpaid tickets, the suspension will be removed and you will be eligible to have your license reinstated.

50% Reduction – Most people will be eligible for a 50% reduction of fines and fees.
80% Reduction – If you receive public assistance or are very low income, you may qualify for an 80% reduction.
If you have made payments on your tickets since June 24, 2015, you may still be eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated, although the amount of your fine will not be reduced.

• You will have to pay a $50 fee for participation in the Traffic Amnesty Program.
• The Department of Motor Vehicles will charge a $55 fee to get your license reinstated.

NOT ELIGIBLE: NO DUIs NO reckless driving citations NO parking tickets

Information sheet with steps of how to be considered for this program is HERE.



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Alameda County Superior Court’s Upcoming Reorganization – From ACBA

changes-to-the-court-artwork_ACSuperiorFrom the Alameda County Bar Association’s ACBA News.

Top 10 Things to Know About the Upcoming Court Reorganization

Assistant Presiding Judge Morris Jacobson held a Town Hall Meeting at the ACBA on August 19th to introduce his vision for reorganizing the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. By the time the Court completes transition in the middle of 2017, there will be a number of changes.

We’ve compiled a list below of the top 10 things to know (so far) about the Court’s upcoming reorganization for those who were unable to attend.

10. The East County Hall of Justice (ECHOJ) will be opening in the spring of 2017, and there will be net gain of 8 courtrooms in the East County.

9. All family law departments will be consolidated in Hayward.

8. All unlawful detainer matters will be handled in Hayward – from motion practice through trial.

7. Probate ultimately will be merged with the “Miscellaneous Civil” group, and will be heard in Hayward.

6. The Self Help Center will be consolidated in Hayward, and will no longer have satellite offices in other courthouses.

5. Free-standing Domestic Violence Restraining Orders will ultimately be merged into the Miscellaneous Civil group.

4. The Court is increasing the resources dedicated to settlement, and creating a new standalone settlement unit, with two thirds of the workload coming from civil, and one third from family.

3. Criminal matters will be concentrated in four courthouses:
• Felonies: Rene C. Davidson and ECHOJ
• Misdemeanors: Wiley Manual and Fremont

2. Details are still being hammered out, come to the upcoming town hall meetings (listed below) to learn more and give feedback.

1. The Court is making do with 70%of the budget and staff that it had six or seven years ago, and is trying to respond to that situation, as well as to streamline court services for the public and attorneys.

Want to know more? Assistant Presiding Judge Morris Jacobson is holding several town hall style meetings to share the plan, and hear your feedback. These meetings are free of charge, but RSVPs are required.

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings:

  • Criminal Defense (Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, Department 1A) – September 2nd at 12:30 p.m. RSVP here
  • Criminal Defense (Hayward Hall of Justice, Department 511) – September 3rd at 12:30 p.m. RSVP here
  • Probate (Hayward Hall of Justice, Department 511) – September 30th at 12:30 p.m. RSVP here
  • Family Law (Hayward Hall of Justice, Department 511) – October 1st at 12:30 p.m. RSVP here
  • Unlawful Detainer – To be Scheduled




Petition Filed in Alameda County Superior Court Claims Warehousing Of Mentally Ill Criminal Defendants

The American Civil Liberties Union is a party to a Petition for Writ of Mandate filed on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda.  The plaintiffs claim California “warehouses” mentally ill criminal defendants in jails without treatment for months, often in defiance of judicial orders.  Pamela Ahlin, Director of the California Department of State Hospitals, is named as a defendant.

The Petition for Writ of Mandate filed in Stiavetti v. Ahlin, RG15779731, is available here –   stiavetti_v_ahlin_acsuperior

The Courthouse News website story about the case can be read here.

Access to petition from DomainWeb

The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, provides the public with online access to civil case records (documents and information) through DomainWeb.  The access to many of the records are now behind a pay wall on the court’s website but Public Reports (Filings) Search  provides links to all non-confidential cases filed on any given day —  by location and case type. This search page allows you to view the initial case creation petition (filing) for free for the first 5 days from the date of the filing.  DomainWeb allows for downloading of the document to your computer.





COLD Calling California State Government Agencies

heading_otechLooking for a telephone number for a California state official or staffer?  There is a great Internet resource with the acronym – COLD (California Online Directory.)

The California Online Directory is a service provided by the California Department of Technology. The Online Directory provides access to government information and services for state employees, local government and the general public. The directory services include state employee information, state agency information, and a State Government Organization Chart, as well as a keyword search.

Need the fax number for the Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles?  (A real question at ACLL last week.)  It is there under the “Agency Display” for the department that is accessed through the Agency Lookup page.

    Director-Jean Shiomoto 916-657-6940
    Chief Deputy Director-Hugo Lopez 916-657-6940
    Deputy Director Of Special Projects- 916-657-6940
    FAX 916-657-2096


The California government agency organization charts are a great centralized resource for those legal researchers who are trying to establish the proper hierarchy for a department.  The California Judicial Council has its own page on the site but the local county courts do not.

The California Roster, also known as the Roster of Public Officials, is a listing of California’s public officeholders, including government officials, and the Judicial branch but only the main telephone number is listed for the individual court within the county section.  It also includes a history of California’s office holders,  a listing of all state agencies, departments, boards and commissions, and information on the state officials for each state in the nation.  The California Roster can be used to locate the appropriate official to serve in an action or proceeding against a public agency.  (Government Code 53051(c))

The California Roster which has been made available exclusively online by the California Secretary of State since 2005.

Looking for a telephone number for a court official?  The most detailed directory is Daily Journal’s California Court Directory available as a paper monthly supplement with a subscription to the publication.  It is kept at the Reference Desk at ACLL.



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Traffic Court — CA Courts’ Proposed Rule – Comment Period Ends June 5, 2015

From the CA Judicial Council website:

SAN FRANCISCO—At a special open meeting via teleconference on June 8, the Judicial Council will consider adopting a proposed rule that would direct courts to allow people who have traffic tickets to appear for arraignment and trial without deposit of bail, unless certain specified exceptions apply.

The rule also states that courts must provide traffic defendants with notice of this option in any instructions or other materials provided by the court to the public.

The rule was developed on an urgency basis at the request of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in response to recent concerns about court procedures for deposit of bail when defendants challenge infraction citations in court. The council advisory bodies that developed the rule recommend it be made effective immediately.

Text of meeting announcement and proposed rule for traffic court.

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA MEETING is open to the public unless indicated as closed (Cal.Rules of Court, rule 10.6(a))
Monday, June 8, 2015 • 8:00 a.m. –9:45 a.m.
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