FAQs

Court User Information

Q: How can I find the address and phone number of my local court?

A: Search the Find a Court section of the California Courts website and look for Contact Info on your local court's website.

Q: What should I do if I need legal advice?

A: The Administrative Office of the Courts, which administers the California Courts website, does not provide legal advice or interpret the law.

If you need legal advice, you will find many useful resources in the section on free and low-cost legal help at our online Self-Help Center. Specifically, the Lawyers and Legal Help section provides you the contact information for low-cost and free legal help. You can also contact the lawyer referral service in your area to get help finding a lawyer for a consultation.

 

Q: How do I find out about a particular trial court case, past or current?

A: Check with the court where the case was filed. Search the Find a Court section of the California Courts website. If you can provide the court with some specific facts about the case, such as case number, case name, or date, the court may be able to assist you.

Q: How do I file a complaint against a court commissioner or referee?

A: First, direct your complaints to the presiding judge of the court in which the matter was heard. If you then want the Commission on Judicial Performance to review the local court's disposition of your complaint, you must file a request with the commission within 30 days of the court's disposition. You should send the commission both your letter of complaint and the disposition letter the court sent you. If the commission determines that the court abused its authority in the disposition of your complaint, the commission will take action. The Commission on Judicial Performance is located at 455 Golden Gate Ave., Suite 14400, San Francisco, CA 94102-3660, 415-557-1200.

Q: How do I complain about an attorney?

A: Complaints about an attorney should be directed to The State Bar of California. Call the Attorney Complaint Hotline (1-800-843-9053) or download an Attorney Complaint Form from the State Bar's website http://www.calbar.ca.gov.

Q: How do I file a claim in small claims court?

A: The online Self-Help Center at tells you how to use the small claims courts and gives you links to frequently asked questions and answers, forms, county-by-county resources, and other useful information.

Q: Where do I go if I have questions about a traffic citation?

A: You must contact the court specified on the Notice to Appear citation or the law enforcement agency specified on the Notice to Correct Violation form to obtain information about your ticket, including information relating to fines and bail. Please refer to the warnings and follow the instructions provided on your ticket. Direct your inquiries to the specific court indicated on the front of your ticket. Search the Find a Court section of the California Courts website and look for Traffic info.

Q: Where do I go if I have questions about traffic school?

A: Check with your local court. Search the Find a Court section of the California Courts website. If you want general information about traffic cases and traffic school, check out the Traffic section of our online Self-Help Center.

Q: If I have a disability, how can I be assured that I will be accommodated in court?

A: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal civil rights statute, requires all state and local governmental entities, including the courts, to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities who have an interest in court activities, programs, and services. Rule 1.100 of the California Rules of Court seeks to provide a workable and orderly framework for compliance with the ADA and state laws. Questions and answers about the provisions of rule 1.100 are contained in "Persons With Disabilities: Q&A on Rule of Court 1.100," accessible at http://www.courts.ca.gov/12521.htm.

Q: Where can I find a listing of judicial branch jobs?

A: Call the Administrative Office of the Courts Job Line at 415-865-4370. For employment opportunities at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, call the center's Job Line, which is the same number: 415-865-4370. Judicial branch jobs are also posted on the California Courts Web. Application forms are available online; you can fill them out and submit them electronically. You can also obtain application forms from the Human Resources Bureau at the Administrative Office of the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102-3660, 415-865-4370.

Q: How can I become a court interpreter?

A: Information about the court interpreters program and answers to frequently asked questions about interpreting as a career can be found on the Court Interpreters section of the California Courts website.

Q: Where can I view online the California Constitution and state statutes and learn more about bills pending before the Legislature?

A: That information is available on the website maintained by the Legislative Counsel of California, pursuant to California law, at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/. See State Constitution.

Q: What is the Administrative Office of the Courts?

A: The Administrative Office of the Courts, or AOC, carries out the Judicial Council's official actions under the supervision of the Administrative Director of the Courts. The AOC and the office of the Administrative Director of the Courts were established in 1962 pursuant to a 1960 constitutional amendment. Prior to that, the Judicial Council functioned without a formal staff structure, and its work was performed by council members aided by the Supreme Court's staff.

Q: Where is the Administrative Office of the Courts located?

A: The Administrative Office of the Courts is headquartered in the Ronald M. George State Office Complex in the San Francisco's Civic Center area. You may enter the building from 455 Golden Gate Avenue or 350 McAllister Street.

Administrative Office of the Courts
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
Phone: 415-865-4200
TDD: 415-865-8004

AOC Burbank Office
2255 North Ontario Street, Suite 220
Burbank, CA 91504
818-558-3060

AOC Sacramento Office
2860 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95833-3509
916-263-7885

Judges

Q: How are trial court judges selected?

A: Trial judges are selected through a combination of election and appointment by the Governor (who fills vacancies). The authority for this process is in the California Constitution, article 6, section 16, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_6.

Q: How are justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal selected?

A: The Governor fills vacancies in these courts by appointment, as provided in the California Constitution, article 6, section 16. To find out more about this process, go to www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_6.

See How appellate court justices are selected.

Q: How many judges are there in the California courts?

A: There are 7 justices on the Supreme Court, 105 justices in the Courts of Appeal, and approximately 2,175 judges, commissioners, referees, assigned judges, and temporary judges in the trial courts.

Q: Where can I find biographical information about California's Supreme Court justices?

A: Biographical information can be found on the Supreme Court site. This information can also be found in California Courts and Judges by Mark Thompson and Elizabeth Smith (James Publishing), available in the reference section of most libraries.

Q: Where can I find biographical information about California's Court of Appeal justices?

A: Information about the justices appears on the Courts of Appeal Web sites, links to which can be found Click on the Court of Appeal district for which you want the information. Information about the justices can also be found in California Courts and Judges by Mark Thompson and Elizabeth Smith (James Publishing), found in the reference section of most libraries.

Q: Where can I find biographical information about California's trial court judges?

A: This information can be found in California Courts and Judges by Mark Thompson and Elizabeth Smith (James Publishing), found in the reference section of most libraries. California has approximately 1,600 trial court judges, and biographical information about all of them is not available online. But some trial courts maintain Web sites with information about their judges.

Q: How can I locate a particular California trial court judge?

A: Search the California Trial Court Roster on the California Courts website.

Q: What guides judges' ethical conduct?

A: Judges are guided by the California Code of Judicial Ethics.

Q: How do I file a complaint against a judge?

A: The Commission on Judicial Performance is the independent state agency responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and judicial incapacity and for disciplining judges. Complaints must be in writing. The commission does not have jurisdiction over temporary judges or private judges. The commission is not an appellate court and cannot change a decision made by any judge. When a judge makes an incorrect decision or misapplies the law, the ruling can be changed only through appeal to the appropriate reviewing court. The commission cannot provide legal assistance or advice to individuals or intervene in litigation on behalf of a party even if a judge has engaged in misconduct. The Commission on Judicial Performance is located at 455 Golden Gate Ave., Suite 14400, San Francisco, CA 94102-3660. The commission’s phone number is 415-557-1200.

Courts and Their Work

Q: How are the California state courts structured?

A: At the top level is the Supreme Court, which may decide to review cases decided by the Courts of Appeal. The Courts of Appeal—the intermediate appellate courts—rule on appeals from the trial courts, except in death penalty cases, which are appealed automatically to the Supreme Court. The Courts of Appeal determine whether a trial court committed a legal error in handling a case. Below the appellate courts are the trial courts. Local trial courts are the judicial forums with which citizens are most likely to have contact. These courts handle criminal matters; legal business concerning probate; juvenile, traffic, and family matters; real estate and business contracts; personal injury claims; and small claims.

Q: Where can I find the latest statistics on case filings and dispositions for counties throughout California?

A: Statistics on case filings and dispositions in certain categories (such as criminal, juvenile dependency, juvenile delinquency, and small claims) can be found in the annual Court Statistics Report, Copies of the report are also available from the Administrative Office of the Courts Publications Hotline at 415-865-7738 or 800-900-5980.

Q: Where can I find California appellate briefs?

A: Go to Appellate Briefs and select the "search" button and enter the case number for the case for which you want to see briefs.

Q: When are Judicial Council forms available on this website?

A: Generally, new and revised forms are available on the California Courts Website just prior to their effective date. This practice avoids the filing of forms that are not yet effective. The new and revised forms are available at Forms

Q: Where are California Rules of Court available on this website?

A: The complete rules of court can be found at Rules of the Court

Q: Where can I find federal court opinions online?

A: The federal court system includes the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, U.S. Courts of Federal Claims, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts. For U.S. Supreme Court opinions, see http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct. To see official U.S. Supreme Court opinions, see http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/opinions.html.

For information on the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, see http://www.uscourts.gov.

Policy Setting for the Courts

Q: What is the Judicial Council of California?

A: The Judicial Council, chaired by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, is the constitutionally created body that sets the direction for California's judicial branch and provides leadership for improving the quality of justice and advancing its consistent, independent, impartial, and accessible administration on behalf of the public and the court system, as a whole, of California.

Q: How can I become a member of the Judicial Council or its advisory committees?

A: The Judicial Council's Executive and Planning Committee annually solicits nominations for membership to the council and its advisory committees. During the nomination solicitation period (March through April for the Judicial Council and April through June for the advisory committees), nomination forms are available online at the public website, and you can complete them and submit them electronically. Outside of the nomination solicitation period, you may complete and submit an interest card. You can also obtain further information from the Secretariat unit at the Administrative Office of the Courts by telephoning 415-865-7640.

Q: Are Judicial Council meetings open to the public?

A: The Judicial Council's business meetings are open to the public. The schedule for the current year's meetings is posted at http://www.courts.ca.gov/3044.htm. A meeting agenda with hyperlinks to the reports that the council's Executive and Planning Committee have approved for the agenda is posted seven days prior to the meeting at http://www.courts.ca.gov/3044.htm. Subsequently approved reports are hyperlinked soon after approval. The action taken at meetings is summarized in news releases posted at http://www.courts.ca.gov/3044.htm following each meeting. Minutes from meetings are usually approved at the next council meeting. Additional information about the meetings may be obtained by contacting the Public Information Office at 415-865-7738 or e-mail at pubinfo@jud.a.gov.

Q: How can I get an item on a Judicial Council business meeting agenda?

A: Most items on the Judicial Council meeting agenda reflect the work of one of the council's advisory committees. You may submit your issue or problem to the appropriate advisory committee.

Q: How do I suggest a change in one of the California Rules of Court or a Judicial Council form?

A: To find out more about this process, see "How a Proposal Becomes a Rule" at http://www.courts.ca.gov/howprorule.pdf. You can send your proposal for a rule or form change to legal-services@jud.ca.gov.

About This Website

Q: How do I view your files?

A: Most documents on our website are posted in one or more of three formats: HTML (.htm), Microsoft Word (.doc), or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). Viewing an HTML document requires no additional software and can be viewed through your browser. Viewing a Word document requires that you download the document and open it in Microsoft Word. Viewing an Adobe Acrobat document requires the latest version of Adobe Reader for either online or offline viewing. Downloading a document requires that you right-click on the file and select "Save Link As" or use the File/Save As option on your browser's toolbar.

Adobe Reader enables online viewing of PDF documents through your Web browser, such as Internet Explorer. This means that you will not have to launch the Adobe Reader separately after downloading PDF documents because they will automatically be opened in the Adobe Reader by the browser. You may still download and view the document offline through the Adobe Reader without the browser if you choose to do so.

Download the free Adobe Reader designed for your operating system or platform.

There is a known problem with certain versions of browsers that causes PDF files not to display completely or not to display at all inside your browser window. The general solution is to configure your computer to display PDF files in a separate Adobe Acrobat application, rather than within a browser window. To do this, follow the instructions below:

Acrobat 7 and Above

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat or Reader.
  2. Select Edit > Preferences > Internet.
  3. Deselect the check box next to "Display PDF in browser."
  4. Close Adobe Acrobat or Reader.
  5. Close browser, if open.

Alternatively, hold the cursor over the PDF link and right-click the mouse. Select "Save Target As." Save the PDF to an appropriate location (e.g., your desktop). Minimize or close the browser window and open the file in the location where the file was saved.

If you are still unable to view the PDF file, get more troubleshooting information from the Adobe website.

AOL Users: While the AOL browser does support the Adobe Reader, there is a technical problem within the browser that prevents it from displaying PDF files online. This means that, if you are using AOL, download and save the PDF file to your hard drive and open it with the Adobe Reader or consider using an alternative Web browser.

Some files are provided as Microsoft Excel or Access files. To view these files, you will need to download them and open them within Excel or Access.

If we think that downloading a large file is likely to be problematic, we provide it as a compressed file in .ZIP format. Before you can view a .ZIP file, you will need to decompress or unZIP it with a utility like PKUNZIP, WinZip, or Stuffit.

Q: How do I convert PDF files into a format that is compatible with a screen reader?

A: For free tools that allow persons with visual disabilities to read documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, please visit access.adobe.com. These tools convert PDF documents into either HTML or ASCII text which can then be read by many screen reading programs

Q: How do I access audio and video files?

A: When you click on a link to hear an audiocast or view a streaming video, Windows Media Player will start playing it automatically. The first step is to ensure you have the appropriate hardware and software, as follows:

  • Hardware: You will need a computer with a sound card and either speakers or headphones. Most computers sold within the last five years or advertised as "multimedia" have these.
  • Software: You will need Windows Media Player, which is available for free and can be downloaded online. We recommend the latest version (version 9 or higher), but our audiocasts and videos should also play in versions 7 or 8.

If you cannot hear or view the broadcast, the problem is likely that either Windows Media Player has not been installed, or your computer network is operating behind a "firewall" that is blocking reception of broadband media. A firewall is software or hardware used to keep unauthorized users from accessing your computer, but it can also block incoming data, such as media.

First, make sure that you have a recent version of Windows Media Player and download a newer version if necessary.

If you have the most recent version, check whether there is a firewall enabled on your network:

  • If you are on an office network, you may need to ask your network administrator to allow access to the ports used by the Windows media player.
  • If you are on a home network, consult your firewall's documentation for instructions on how to allow audio/video streaming. Some antivirus software can also block streaming audio/video content. Disable your antivirus software temporarily to determine if this is the source of the problem. If the stream works, consult your documentation to learn how to permit audio/video streams, and don't forget to reactivate your antivirus software.

The following are helpful links for the Windows Media Player:

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