About the 3rd District

Located in Sacramento, California’s Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, is one of the three original courts of appeal established by constitutional amendment in 1904. Its jurisdiction stretches over 23 counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba. The geographical area of the District is larger than the combined area of Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

During its history, five of the Court’s justices have gone on to serve as justices of the state Supreme Court. Two former justices were distinguished veterans of the Civil War, including one Medal of Honor recipient. And, one former presiding justice was the first female to serve as an appellate court justice in California.

Mosk Library & Courts Building

When the Capitol building was completed in 1869, there was no Court of Appeal. Instead, a case went from the trial court straight to the Supreme Court. In 1904, voters reformed the appellate process and created three appellate court districts through a ballot initiative. The Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, was assigned to sit in Sacramento, and it found office space in the Capitol building’s apse, near the state library.

By 1910, there were 18 state agencies located in San Francisco, more than were located in Sacramento. The California Supreme Court had been holding its regular sessions in San Francisco since 1878. To relieve the overcrowding, the people of Sacramento passed a bond act in 1914. This measure funded the “Capitol Extension” to provide additional office space for the state department of agriculture, the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the State Library.  The Extension consisted of “twin” office buildings: State Office Building Number 1 (now known as the Unruh Building) and the Library & Courts Building. The Court moved to its current location in 1929.

The building became a state landmark in 1977 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. In 2002, the building was renamed the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building to honor the late state Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk (1912–2001). The building is an important example of Californian neo-classical architecture and decorative arts. Significant architectural changes to the building took place in 1954 and again in the 1970s. The most recent infrastructure project to add fire, life, and safety systems was completed in 2013.

The California State Library has created a virtual tour of the building. The California Department of General Services also maintains a fact sheet about the building.

Striving for Justice Panel ImageCentennial Celebration

A brief history of the creation and evolution of the California Courts of Appeal (including the Third Appellate District) was created in 2005 to honor the centennial of the Courts of Appeal. The fourteen panel exhibit traces the chronology of the courts from the establishment of the original three districts to the current six. The exhibit panels range in content from profiles of significant contributors to the success of the courts to outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Courts of Appeal. View the virtual exhibit here: "Striving for Justice: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" Informational Panels

Visiting the Court

The Mosk Library & Courts building is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Note: the Clerk’s Office is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). The building is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays. Visitors are reminded that this is a working court. Professional behavior and quiet voices are appreciated; please turn cell phones off.

The State Library’s docent program provides weekday tours of the building. More information about the program is available here.

Schools and Groups are welcome to tour the Court. Please contact the Clerk/Administrator and provide the following information:

  • Contact person’s name, telephone number, and email address
  • Date & time you wish to visit (and alternate dates if available)
  • Name of school/group
  • Number of students/participants (and grade level if applicable)
  • Number of chaperones

The Clerk/Administrator will contact you and provide you with the court’s visitor guidelines. Upon arrival, please check in at the Security Desk on the first floor.

No special parking area is available for visiting groups. Metered parking is available on streets surrounding the building. Several commercial parking lots are located near the building.

Nearby sites of interest include: the California State Capitol, the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park, and the California Museum.

Courtroom Etiquette

Generally, all court proceedings are open to the public. Members of the public do not need to schedule an appointment to observe Court proceedings as an audience member. However, courtroom seating is limited, and audience members are generally admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. While in the courtroom, please remember:

  • No weapons of any sort, including pocket knives, sharp objects, and real or toy guns.
  • Appropriate clothing is required: no tank tops, shorts, or hats. Pants may not be worn so low that undergarments are visible.
  • No food, beverages, chewing gum, or tobacco products.
  • Turn cell phones to silent; no phone calls or text messaging.
  • Maintain a respectful attitude at all times in the courtroom and in the building.

You can find out the dates of oral arguments by looking at our calendar on Facebook.

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