Los Angeles County Superior Court
|Los Angeles County Superior Court|
Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Grand Ave entrance
|Superior Court overview|
|Jurisdiction||Government of California
Los Angeles County
|Superior Court executives||David S. Wesley, Presiding Judge
John A. Clarke, Executive Officer/Clerk
The Superior Court operates 47 courthouses throughout the county. Currently, the Presiding Judge is David S. Wesley and John A. Clarke is the Executive Officer/Clerk. They, together with 5,400 employees, operate the nearly 600 courtrooms throughout the county, with an annual budget of $850 million.
When California declared its statehood in 1849 and became a part of the United States, the first California Constitution authorized the legislature to establish municipal and such other courts as it deemed necessary. The 1851 California Judiciary Act divided the state into districts, placing Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties into one district. Each district had its own court, below which were County and then Justice of the Peace Courts. Judge Agustin Olvera of the County Court and Judge Jonathan R. Scott of the Justice of the Peace Court were the first judges of these lower courts. Almost immediately the District Court system was burdened by the vast expanse of the district. District Judges was required to hold court proceedings where the cases were filed. Because of the distance District Court Judges had to travel to conduct trials and the sudden growth in population due to California Gold Rush, the District Court system became ineffective and non-responsive to the needs of its constituency.
In 1879 California adopted a new constitution and with it a revised court system. The District Courts became appeals courts below the State Supreme Court. To take over the District Courts original function the county Superior Courts were created. The new Superior Court of Los Angeles County began with two judges: Ygnacio Sepulveda and Volney E. Howard. In 1905, juvenile delinquency and dependency hearings were put under the Superior Court's jurisdiction, as were mental health hearing in 1914. Eventually the Superior Court’s jurisdiction came to include all civil, felony criminal, family law, Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency, and probate cases in the county.
Throughout its history the Superior Court had had a close relation with the county’s many Municipal Courts. By 1971 the Superior Court assumed responsibility for coordinating, providing and scheduling court interpreters for all courts in the County and by 1973 the Court had implemented a county wide system to process the payment of court appointed attorneys. The following year, 1974, all jury services in the county had been consolidated. In 1986 county-wide uniform criminal Local Court rules and uniform exhibit processing procedures were adopted to ensure consistency in how criminal cases were handled through the court system. By 1988 the Municipal and Superior Courts began to cross-assign cases to ease the county’s judicial back log. In 1993 the Superior Court adopted the Municipal Courts’ automated criminal case processing system; known as the Municipal Court Information it was rebranded the Trial Court Information System. Also in 1993 the Superior Court was administratively unified with several of the Municipal Courts. And by 1999 17 more Municipal Courts had joined. Finally on January 22, 2000, in accordance with Proposition 220 passed in 1998, the Judges of the Municipal and Superior Courts voted to merge into the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.
On November 14, 2012, Lee Smalley Edmon, presiding judge of the L.A. County Superior Court, announced the closing of 10 courthouses, including those in Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona and San Pedro due to budget cut.
- Alhambra Courthouse, First Street and Commonwealth Avenue
- Airport Courthouse, 105 and 405 freeway intersection
- Catalina Courthouse, Catalina Island, smallest, one part-time courtroom
- Bellflower Courthouse
- Beverly Hills Courthouse
- Burbank Courthouse
- Chatsworth Courthouse
- Compton Courthouse
- Downey Courthouse
- East Los Angeles Courthouse
- El Monte Courthouse
- Glendale Courthouse
- Hollywood Courthouse
- Huntington Park Courthouse
- Inglewood Courthouse
- Long Beach Courthouse
- Malibu Courthouse
- Metropolitan Courthouse
- Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse
- Norwalk Courthouse
- Pasadena Courthouse
- Pomona Courthouse North
- Pomona Courthouse South
- Redondo Beach Courthouse
- San Fernando Courthouse
- San Pedro Courthouse
- San Pedro Courthouse Annex
- Santa Clarita Courthouse
- Santa Monica Courthouse
- Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Downtown Los Angeles, 100 courtrooms, largest courthouse in the United States
- Torrance Courthouse
- Van Nuys Courthouse East
- Van Nuys Courthouse West
- West Covina Courthouse
- West Los Angeles Courthouse
- Whittier Courthouse
- Alfred J. McCourtney Juvenile Justice Center
- Central Arraignment Court
- Central Civil West Courthouse
- Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center
- David V. Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center
- Eastlake Juvenile Court
- Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court
- Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse
- Los Padrinos Juvenile Courthouse
- Mental Health Courthouse
- Sylmar Juvenile Courthouse
The Court uses the California Court Case Management System (CCMS) v3, and exposes services to the public such as the Criminal Defendant Index, Civil Party Name Search, Civil Case Document Images, Traffic Ticket Online Services, e-File Small Claims, and Divorce Judgment Documents. The difference between CCMS and these other services is similar to the difference between the federal CM/ECF and PACER systems.
The Court has nearly 5,400 employees, operates nearly 600 courtrooms throughout the county, and has an annual budget of $850 million. The Court has 2.7 million new cases each year:
- 1.7 million traffic tickets
- About 500,000 criminal cases
- Nearly 120,000 family law cases
- Over 150,000 civil lawsuits
Pursuant to California Government Code and the California Rules of Court, the Los Angeles County Superior Court has adopted Local Rules for its government and the government of its officers. The Presiding Judge assigns cases to departments and judges to departments. Nominations and election of the Presiding and Assistant Presiding Judge are made by all judges and take place between September and October of each year. All departments are divided into several principal divisions under the policy and procedures established by its supervising judge, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee and the Presiding Judge.
There are several officers of the court, including judges, jurors, commissioners, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, and court reporters.
- 3.1 million of the County's residents are called for jury duty each year
- 1 million people became qualified jurors
- Between 7,000 to 10,000 people serve as jurors every day
- Over 5,500 jury trials are held each year
- Average length of a trial is about 7 days
- $15 per day and 34 cents per miles (one way) compensation after the first day
- 18 years of age or older, citizen of the United States and a resident of Los Angeles County are minimum requirements
The state Administrative Office of the Courts maintains an official roster of all superior court judges, including the 431 judges of the L.A. Superior Court. Median spending for a judicial office election for the Los Angeles County Superior Court has risen from $3,177 in 1970 to $70,000 in 1994. Notable judges:
A commissioner is a subordinate judicial officer elected by the judges of the Court and given the power to hear and make decisions in certain kinds of legal matters, similar to the United States magistrate judge. Their jurisdiction includes, but is not limited to, traffic matters, family law and juvenile cases, criminal misdemeanors, and criminal felony cases through the preliminary hearing stage. There are 140 commissioners.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney, currently Jackie Lacey, prosecutes crimes before the court on behalf of California, Los Angeles County, and all cities and special districts within Los Angeles County.
The court clerks, or Judicial Assistants, are responsible for managing the courtrooms and other clerical courtroom activities, interacting with the attorneys and the public, administering oaths, assisting with the impaneling juries, and are responsible for the inventory and safe-keeping of the exhibits. The current, and soon to be retired Clerk, is John A. Clarke.
- Hillside Strangler
- Charles Manson murders
- O. J. Simpson murder case
- The Onion Field
- Paul v. Clinton
- Phil Spector murder of Lana Clarkson
- Lee Marvin palimony case
- Trial of Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson's last doctor)
- Superior Courts of California
- A look at your Superior Court, published by Los Angeles Superior Court
- About the Los Angeles Superior Court
- 10 L.A. County courthouses slashed amid budget cuts, Los Angeles, November 14, 2012
- "Review of the California Court Case Management System".
- California Government Code § 68070
- California Rules of Court § 10.613
- Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules § 2.1
- California Rules of the Court § 10.603
- Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules § 1.5
- California Rules of Court § 10.602
- Hansen 1998, p. 69.