Los Angeles County Superior Court

The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles

Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Grand Ave entrance
Superior Court overview
Jurisdiction California
Los Angeles County
Superior Court executives
  • David S. Wesley, Presiding Judge
  • Sherri R. Carter, Executive Officer/Clerk
Website lasuperiorcourt.org

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County is the California Superior Court located in Los Angeles County. It is the largest single unified trial court in the United States.

The Superior Court operates 47 courthouses throughout the county. Currently , the Presiding Judge is David S. Wesley and Sherri R. Carter 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.[1]


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.[2]

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 cuts.[3]

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"[4]


The Hill St entrance to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse




The Court uses the California Court Case Management System (CCMS) v3,[6] 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.[1] The Court has 2.7 million new cases each year:

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.[7][8] The Presiding Judge assigns cases to departments and judges to departments.[9][10] 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.[11][12] 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.[9]


There are several officers of the court, including judges, jurors, commissioners, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, and court reporters.



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.[13] 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 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.

Defense attorneys

The Los Angeles County Public Defender's office staffs Los Angeles Superior Courts in criminal cases. Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers represent parents in juvenile dependency cases.


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.


The functions of the bailiff are carried out by Los Angeles County Sheriff, currently Jim McDonnell, under contract.

Notable cases

See also


  1. 1 2 A look at your Superior Court, published by Los Angeles Superior Court
  2. About the Los Angeles Superior Court
  3. 10 L.A. County courthouses slashed amid budget cuts, Los Angeles, November 14, 2012
  4. http://www.lacourt.org/generalinfo/aboutthecourt/GI_AC001.aspx
  5. http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/locations/ui/listbyname.aspx
  6. "Review of the California Court Case Management System" (PDF).
  7. California Government Code § 68070
  8. California Rules of Court § 10.613
  9. 1 2 Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules § 2.1
  10. California Rules of the Court § 10.603
  11. Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules § 1.5
  12. California Rules of Court § 10.602
  13. Hansen 1998, p. 69.

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