Thursday, April 17, 2014

Court Bulletin

Grand Jury Awareness Month

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution proclaiming February as the Sacramento County Grand Jury Awareness Month. The proclamation recognizes both the Sacramento County Grand Jury and the California Grand Jurors' Association for their hard work and dedication.

Please read the news release for more information.

Sacramento Superior Court Receives Innovation Award

The Court received the Court Information Technology Officers Consortium (CITOC) 2013 Innovation in Technology Award for the development and implementation of the Public Case Access System and the Public Case Kiosk System in the Traffic Division.

The Court's Public Case Access System enables customers to review all activity and related documents in their case, dispose of their case through their web browser, pay their tickets online and review their red light traffic videos.

The Court's Public Case Kiosk System allows customers to check-in and access information on their case by simply swiping their driver's license. The kiosk also allows payment of their ticket and automates the hearing process if they choose to go to court. The case is then called in the order it was received from the kiosk enabling cases to be heard by a judge in a shorter period of time and reducing the time a person spends at the courthouse.

Please read the news release for more information.

One Day Divorce

Sacramento Superior Court announces a new program to help cooperating couples, or single parties whose spouses have defaulted, to complete a simple divorce in one day. After the initial filing and serving of the petition, unrepresented litigants can attain a fast, affordable and most important--a fair resolution of their simple divorce.

In a time when budget cuts are forcing courts all over California to limit services to the public, judges and court professionals from the Sacramento Superior Court are leading efforts to innovate improvements to the administration of justice in Family Law.

Judge James Mize of the Sacramento Superior Court has created the first "One Day Divorce" program in the state. Family Law attorneys and law students volunteer to help litigants through the one-day process. The first step is for litigants to sit down with one or more pro tem judges who discuss the terms of the couple's proposed agreement. The next step is accomplished with help from law students and your attorney volunteers. Finally, if all the formal documents are completed and if the pro tem judges have approved the case for One Day Divorce treatment, the parties appear in the courtroom of Judge James Mize who will grant the appropriate relief. In 95% of all cases, the parties leave the courtroom with the final and formal documents in their hands and nothing else left to be done to obtain their judgment of dissolution or legal separation.

In California, 72% of family law litigants do not have lawyers. Simple divorces are complicated for self-represented litigants and, as a result, many cases languish in and congest the court system for months and even years. One of the biggest complaints about courts, and family courts in particular, is that the process takes too long to complete. The "One Day Divorce" program was created to help solve these problems.

To date, this program has only been offered as a pilot project for a limited number of litigants from court-based referrals. Since the pilot program began in December 2012, 25 cases have been successfully resolved.

Litigants participating in the program during the pilot phase had plenty to say about the experience. "I always had the feeling that the system was out to get me. Today the system was actually working for me," said Jason S., who made his first filing for divorce three years ago. Frustrated after having his paperwork rejected and not knowing how to proceed, he and his spouse discontinued the divorce process while living separate lives. Through the "One Day Divorce" program, he and his spouse spent one day in court getting the necessary assistance with their case, then left the same day with a signed judgment that meant their divorce was finalized.

Another participant, Aaron M. indicated "the lawyers made the process a lot more effective. No more time off work, back and forth to court. Just flat out GOT IT DONE." John G. commented, "This class took away my stress of dealing with this by myself. Thank you guys very much."

Based on the success of the program thus far, Judge Mize has announced that the "One Day Divorce" program will "go live" on April 12, 2013 at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse. Visit the One Day Divorce Program web page for more information on how you can be a part of this history-making program.

Daily Trial Calendar

The Sacramento Superior Court's Daily Trial Calendar provides the case name, the judge assigned to the case, the department and floor location, and the case type. The calendar is updated and published daily.

Civil Self-Help Center

The Civil Self-Help Center provides workshops and individual assistance with a variety of civil legal issues. There are no income requirements to receive the free services. For more information, visit the Civil Self-Help Center - external link web page.

The Civil Self-Help Center is located in the Sacramento County Public Law Library, 609 9th Street, in downtown Sacramento.

Courtroom Observation Process

If you are coming to the courthouse to observe a trial, please read the Courtroom Observation Process.

Court Tip

Drive extra carefully on cold and rainy days when accidents are more likely to happen. If the accident is your fault, you won't be able to blame it on the rain. If you own a vehicle and drive on public streets, you must have insurance.

Court Services

Visit the Court Services page for locations and phone numbers.