California Judicial Branch Fillable Court Forms – Our Print Mystery Solved

The Black Streaks (my least favorite Emo band)

Black streaks or smudges started to manifest on some of the paper copies of fillable court forms printed at ACLL.  California legal system participants, ever have this problem?  You are using the California Judicial Branch’s website to complete one of the many California Judicial Council’s fillable forms.  No problem entering the information.  Looks great on the screen – nice and clear.  You print a paper copy for the court or your file and on the page appears large black smears (see image.)  What goes?

Without any warning, some of our patrons, who use the Alameda County Law Library‘s public computer network to complete their Judicial Council forms, started to experience these smudges after spending time and effort editing the forms online. Their hard work was ruined.  The reason this problem popped up remained a mystery to the Reference Desk staff.  It was not the network and printing software nor a problem with the court’s website.  We had the Alameda County IT Department dig into the problem.  Thanks to ITD’s Ernest, the mystery has been solved.

It turns out it was caused by a recent Adobe Reader software upgrade.  The court site recommends that people use the freely available Adobe Reader software to edit the fillable forms.   Recent changes to the software caused problems for users of a number of different internet sites’ fillable forms.

The solution

If you have experienced this black smudge/smear problem on the California courts’ or other websites, here is a solution –

Simply stated – In Adobe Reader > Select Edit > Select Preferences > Click on Security Enhanced option from the Categories list > then click on the Enable Protected Mode at startup box to disable this setting option.

Not so simply stated step-by-step instructions –

  • You will need to reset a default setting for Adobe Reader.  (The court website recommends you download the free Adobe Reader to edit the online forms.)
  • Your internet browser’s search screen will present different options and icons in different displays so the following steps are general advice only.
  • The court’s website has information on how to use its fillable forms (including downloading the forms to Adobe Reader) – California Judicial Branch,  Forms – How to Fill
  • When using some of the internet browsers, the form first appears in a Viewer. Once you have your selected form on your browser screen in Viewer mode, you will want to bring it up or change it to a fillable form.  Look for the icon or option to download.  When using the Firefox browser it looks like this – 
  • Click on the icon or select the download option.  The form will reappear on your screen with the editable fields highlighted in blue.  Once you have the document in Adobe Reader (AND BEFORE TYPING ANY INFORMATION) you proceed with the needed changes.
  • Uncheck the Enabled Protected Mode at startup box within Adobe Acrobat Reader that is located under the Edit tab using the following steps:

  • Select Edit
  • Select Preferences  on the drop-down menu that appears.
  • Click on Security Enhanced option from the Categories list then click on the Enable Protected Mode at startup box to disable this option.

Why this setting causes the streaks when the document is printed remains a mystery but not one for which the answer needs to be discovered.  Best left to the tech geeks.  I guess you could say it is the importance of knowing Ernest.

The California Judicial Branch’s web pages do not support the use of all browsers and their PDF readers.  More software companies are developing their own internet website browsing and viewing software.  For more information on using the Judicial Council’s PDF forms, see Viewing PDF Files



Alameda County Superior Court – Changes To Local Rules And Forms – January 1, 2016

Changes to the Local Rules of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda – January 1, 2016 rcd_courthouse_OMuseumside

The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, has updated its local rules.

The updates, effective January 1, 2016, will be available on the Alameda County Superior Court’s website by January 1, 2016.  (If you peek and use this link before January 1, 2016, you will see the “old” current rules on the court’s web page.)

Until the new year, you can use this PDF to see updated rules and forms.  Alameda Local Rules Effective Jan. 1, 2016

Here is a separate PDF that provides copies of all the Alameda County Superior Court local forms that will be in use as of January 1, 2016.



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Cortes de California La Rama Judicial de California

CApoppies_SelfHelpCenterBannerKnow someone whose primary language is Spanish and needs California legal self-help information?

The information under the Self-Help tab on California Judicial Council’s website is available in Spanish.

  • Go to the Judicial Council’s Self-Help website.
  • Look for the icon with a red flag and “Espanol” or the box “Centro de Ayuda” on the right hand side under the heading.  jcwebsite_spanish_image
  • Click.

Either link take you to the Spanish information site.

To return to the English language site – look for the “English” icon in the same area on the web page.

Other languages

Legal information guides in other languages — while not as extensive as the Spanish language site – are available through the links that can be reached using the “More Languages” link at the end of the first paragraph.  Languages include –  Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Here is an image of the paragraph with the link from the Self-Help web page:



Here is a snippet to show you what the Spanish language site looks like:







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Alameda County Superior Court– Interpreters In Civil Matters — ALA-INT-001

The Alameda County Law Library recently received this notice:

To attorneys and all interested persons:

The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, recently received approval from the Chair of the Judicial Council to adopt a new local form, ALA-INT-001, to take effect as of May 1, 2015. A copy of the order authorizing the off-cycle adoption of the form is attached, as is a copy of ALA-INT-001.

The form is used for requesting an interpreter in a civil matter, and the Court will be translating the form into a number of additional languages for ease of use. The translated versions of the form will be posted on the Court’s web site as they are completed.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Chad Finke
General Counsel
Superior Court of California, County of Alameda
1225 Fallon Street Room 209
Oakland, CA 94612
510-891-6273 phone; 510-891-6276 fax

Here is a link to a file with the new form.  An image and instructions follow in this post.


ALA-INT-001 (eff  May 1 2015)_1 (3)


ALA-INT-001 (eff  May 1 2015)_Instructions (2)

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Block Buddies – ACLL & The Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office

The legal profession has two sides.  Litigation (i.e., courts, lawsuits, alternative dispute resolution) gets the headlines.  Transactional side activities (i. e., contract agreements, real property transactions, wills and estates, etc.) usually remain private between the parties involved except when one of those parties decides to challenge the transaction in court and the disagreement becomes part of a court’s public record.  Though the Alameda County Law Library gets the vast majority of its funding from litigation activities (civil filings), it also provides services relating to the many transactions that are required by our government agencies and the legal system.

Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office

No filing of official documents is done at the law library locations, but the staff can and does assist a patron with researching the proper procedures on how to record documents to protect his or her legal rights.  We also have copies of forms and templates – samples of the proper language and formatting used for each specific form.  Within the library’s various resources, we have numerous forms and templates — more than anyone would ever want to count.  The majority of the requests we receive at the ACLL reference desks are for those forms that need to be filed as part of the official records retained by the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office 1106 Madison St, Oakland, CA 94612

As the Oakland Main Law Library is around the corner from the Clerk-Recorder’s Office, we have steady flow of traffic in patrons seeking deeds and affidavit forms, as well as, other documents that effect the ownership to real property.  These forms need to be filed with the Clerk-Recorder’s Office to have the transaction be included as part of the official chain of title (or ownership) for the property.  The County Clerk-Recorder also provides official services for recording documents including but not limited to: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and certificates, fictitious business names and mechanics liens.  Their office does not supply any paperwork or legal advice.   They send people around the corner to ACLL for those resources.  Many of the forms are also available on Internet sites.  ACLL has its own forms web page but you will need access to a printer.  Just make sure whatever website you use is up-to-date with the requirements of California law.

At the reference desk, we sell deed packets ($2.00) to help people with the proper paperwork to record changes in ownership to California real estate.  The packets include the form itself, as well as, information sheets including locations of notary services in the area for those forms that require signature before a notary.

There are two especially helpful resources at ACLL for County Clerk-Recorder transactions.  The first is the Nolo Press’ Deeds for California Real Estate by Mary Randolph.   This title can help the user with choosing the right kind of deed, drafting (correctly word processing) it, then filing it with a county recorder.  The text is written in plain-English with step-by-step instructions for completing forms.

Information includes how to :

  • add or remove someone’s name from the title of real estate you own
  • transfer real estate into, or out of, a revocable living trust
  • borrow or lend money with real estate as security

You can also access the sections of this books through ACLL’s website using the “Legal Databases” web page and these instructions –2015_nolo_ebsco_access_guide.

The second item is the  title – Recorders’ Document Reference and Indexing Manual: A Training and Reference Manual for State-wide Recording and Indexing Personnel.  It is published by the County Recorders’ Association of California. This unique resource is of value to legal researchers who are trying to trying to establish a public record of his or her interest in property.   The title includes an index to the majority of recordable documents, as well as, a listing of items that will not be recorded by a California county recorder.

Deeds, as well as, a number of other legal documents require that a signature be notarized.  Recent California law has made changes to the language required as part of the notary statement.  People who try to file forms or documents that have been notarized using the old language will have their documents rejected by the Clerk-Recorder’s Office.  But that is a topic for another blog post in the near future.


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Fee Waivers Involving Guardians Conservators and Petitioners For Their Appointment

 Judicial Council of California

Invitation to Comment: Fee Waivers

Legislation effective on January 1, 2015, has changed the law governing court fee waivers involving guardians, conservators, and petitioners for their appointment. The new law clarifies that the fee waiver in such matters is in favor of the (proposed) ward or conservatee and must be based solely on his or her financial condition, but requires the fiduciary or the petitioner for the fiduciary’s appointment, or both, to participate in all court proceedings and to respond to all court orders concerning the waiver.

To implement this new law, the committee is proposing a new rule of court regarding fee waivers in guardianships and conservatorship proceedings and new versions of Judicial Council fee waiver forms for use by probate guardians and conservators, and by petitioners for their appointment. The rule would also address fee waivers in decedent estate proceedings.

Court fee waivers in decedent estates, guardianships, and conservatorships and for wards and conservatees participating in civil actions

Deadline for Comments: April 23, 2015 5:00 PM (Pacific)
Submit Comment Online or by email:


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Opposing California Civil Motions

Opposing California Civil Motions

Do you ever have problems finding informationOpposing California Civil Motions on opposition papers, including forms and formatting? Finding them can be problematic. They can be found of course but with some difficulty. Some sources are extremely detailed and just have too much information for the layperson and even for some attorneys. Both the requestor and the librarian’s eyes start to glaze over. (Plus the print is tiny!)*

And finding an opposition form on point is only the beginning. You must also state the grounds for opposition and include Memoranda of Points and Authorities. You must understand the form and contents of the motion.

The Rutter Group comes to the rescue once again. The latest in their excellent Civil Litigation Series is Opposing California Civil Motions: Model Opposition Briefs. Others in the series include California Law and Motion Model Forms, California Law and Motion Authorities, and California Summary Judgment and Related Termination Motions.

Opposing California Civil Motions consists of filled-in sample forms (format, grounds for specific opposition), explanation, practice tips and points and authorities, in an “all in one” source. Chapters cover in detail opposing the following types of motions: General, Preliminary; Summons; Pleadings; Subpoena; Discovery, Continuance and Arbitration.

The chapter on Opposing General Motions includes Opposition to Motions to Extend or Shorten Time and Opposition to Requests for Judicial Notice. The chapter on Opposition to Discovery includes “Inserts – If Seeking Sanctions”.

The very good “How to Use this Book” in the front of the book (which unfortunately many people will not read) includes an Overview, Procedural Motion Tips (citing California Code sections and Court Rules on service and timing etc.), and a Tentative Rulings explanation and information on how to oppose a Tentative Ruling.

Ask the librarians for the Civil Litigation Series title you want. These are kept behind the Reference Desk.

*With all due respect to the venerable California Pleading and Practice and the mighty California Points and Authorities.