Los Angeles County Superior Court
The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, is the California superior court with jurisdiction over Los Angeles County, which includes the city of Los Angeles. It is the largest single unified trial court in the United States.
|Los Angeles County Superior Court|
Los Angeles County
|Location||Los Angeles County|
|Composition method||Non-partisan election|
|Authorized by||Constitution of California|
|Appeals to||California Court of Appeal|
2nd Appellate District
|Judge term length||Six years|
|Number of positions||494 judges, by statute|
|Currently||Eric C. Taylor|
|Executive Officer/Clerk of Court|
|Currently||Sherri R. Carter|
The Los Angeles Superior Court operates 38 courthouses throughout the county, including the Stanley Mosk Courthouse at the Los Angeles Civic Center. As of 2021[update], the Presiding Judge is Eric C. Taylor. Sherri R. Carter is the Executive Officer/Clerk of Court. With 5,400 employees and an annual budget of $769.5 million, the superior court operates nearly 600 courtrooms throughout the county.
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 Los Angeles County Court and Judge Jonathan R. Scott of the Los Angeles 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 were required to hold court proceedings where the cases were filed. Because of the distances district court judges had to travel to conduct trials and the sudden growth in population due to the 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 courts' jurisdiction, as were mental health hearing in 1914. Eventually, the superior courts' jurisdiction came to include all civil, felony criminal, family law, juvenile delinquency and dependency, and probate cases in its county.
Throughout its history, the superior court had had a close relationship 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 countywide system to process the payment of court-appointed attorneys. By 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 backlog. In 1993, the superior court adopted the municipal courts’ automated criminal case processing system; known as the Municipal Court Information, it was later rebranded the Trial Court Information System. Also in 1993, the superior court was administratively unified with several of the municipal courts. And by 1999, seventeen 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 ten courthouses, including those in Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona and San Pedro due to budget cuts.
The Los Angeles Superior Court mission statement is "The Los Angeles Superior Court is dedicated to serving our community by providing equal access to justice through the fair, timely and efficient resolution of all cases"
- 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
- Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, Long Beach (opened September 2013)
- Hollywood Courthouse
- Huntington Park Courthouse
- Inglewood Courthouse
- Long Beach Courthouse (closed September 2013, demolished in 2016)
- Malibu Courthouse
- Metropolitan Courthouse, Los Angeles
- Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse, Lancaster
- 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, Lancaster
- 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, Monterey Park
- Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse
- Los Padrinos Juvenile Courthouse, Downey
- 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[permanent dead link], 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 and 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, a citizen of the United States and a resident of Los Angeles County are minimum requirements
The state Judicial Council of California maintains an official roster of all superior court judges, including the 481 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 have included:
- John F. Aiso (1909–1987)
- William Atwell Cheney
- David S. Cunningham, III
- James Hahn
- Shirley Hufstedler
- Lance Ito
- Joyce Karlin
- Mike Kellogg
- Carolyn B. Kuhl, former Presiding Judge
- Charles "Tim" McCoy
- Loren Miller Jr.
- Loren Miller (1903–1967)
- Billy G. Mills
- Lawrence Mira
- Kevin A. Ross
- Michael T. Sauer
- Robert Mitsuhiro Takasugi (1930–2009)
- Joseph Wapner
- Delbert Wong
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 a 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 George Gascón, prosecutes crimes before the court on behalf of California, Los Angeles County, and most cities and special districts within Los Angeles County. Several local city attorney's offices, including those of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Long Beach, Inglewood, and Burbank also prosecute misdemeanor crimes that occur within their respective city limits.
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 Clerk is Sherri R. Carter.
- Los Angeles Times Bombing case (leading to the collapse of the labor movement in Los Angeles and the indictment of defense counsel Clarence Darrow for jury tampering)
- Hillside Strangler
- Caryl Chessman kidnapping and rape trial (and imposition of death penalty)
- Charles Manson murders
- O. J. Simpson murder case
- The Onion Field
- McMartin preschool trial
- Phil Spector murder of Lana Clarkson
- Lee Marvin palimony case
- Trial of Conrad Murray (Michael Jackson's last doctor)
- Britney Spears conservatorship dispute
- "California Judicial Officers and Court Employees" (PDF). Judicial Council of California. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Presiding Judge Daniel Buckley". www.courts.ca.gov. Judicial Council of California. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "LosAngelesCountyBenchElectsEricCTaylorPresidingJudge" (PDF). lacourt.org. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- A look at your Superior Court, published by Los Angeles Superior Court
- About the Los Angeles Superior Court Archived 2009-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
- 10 L.A. County courthouses slashed amid budget cuts, Los Angeles, November 14, 2012
- "Mission Statement - About the Court - Community Focus - LA Court". www.lacourt.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- "Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse". www.lacourt.org. Los Angeles County Superior Court. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
- Branson-Potts, Hailey (September 9, 2013). "No rats and no lines, new Long Beach courthouse opens for business". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2010-07-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Review of the California Court Case Management System" (PDF).
- California Government Code § 68070 Archived 2013-03-08 at the Wayback Machine
- 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.