Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

California Courts: Departments

Can one of you Californian attorneys explain how departments jeffm01/31/17
Depends on the court house. We mostly use "courtroom" and "d 2breedbares01/31/17
Each county is essentially a separate sovereign nation when guyingorillasuit01/31/17
Seems identical to NYC's insane nomenclature just with "part trollfeeder01/31/17
Thanks for the responses. jeffm01/31/17
jeffm (Jan 31, 2017 - 8:59 am)

Can one of you Californian attorneys explain how departments relate to courts? I get the impression that a court can hold hearings in any one or more departments throughout the life of a case. Am I right? And also, what is a department? Is it a building? A floor in a building? An area of practice?

Thanks.

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2breedbares (Jan 31, 2017 - 10:46 am)

Depends on the court house. We mostly use "courtroom" and "department" interchangeably in LA.

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guyingorillasuit (Jan 31, 2017 - 10:54 am)

Each county is essentially a separate sovereign nation when it comes to these things, and there is no statewide scheme. In San Mateo county, for instance, a Judge may sit in Department 15, which is Courtroom 7C. I assume they implemented it that way so that a certain Judge is always Department 15, even if he is re-assigned to a new Courtroom. In San Francisco, "Department" and "Courtroom" are used interchangeably, and on forms, we say: "Courtroom: 403", "Department: 403", or just leave the department blank.

In civil cases (not family law), some counties have a "master calendar" system, and others have a "single assignment" system. For instance, in a San Francisco civil case, you take all motions to Department 302 (the law and motion department), including case-dispositive motions such as summary judgment. If the case does not settle, you are then assigned a trial judge. In other counties, a single judge shepherds your case from complaint to verdict.

The best way for me to try to understand how a specific county works is to read the local rules. You can google, for instance, "San Francisco local rules" and "San Mateo local rules".

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trollfeeder (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:12 am)

Seems identical to NYC's insane nomenclature just with "parts" instead of departments. I don't miss 100 Centre.

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jeffm (Jan 31, 2017 - 2:23 pm)

Thanks for the responses.

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