Oct 31, 2014

Civil & Small Claims Division

Location: Hall of Justice, 600 Administration Drive, Room 107J, Santa Rosa CA 95403
Office Hours: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM Mon-Fri
Court Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mon-Fri
(707) 521-6610 8:00 AM to Noon Mon-Fri

Civil Calendar Information

Click here for Civil calendar information

Calendar dates, other than settlement conference and trial dates, will be obtained by filing the moving papers. Settlement conference dates are assigned when cases are set for trial.

Civil Ex Parte Matters

All civil ex parte applications, including Small Claims, but excluding Unlawful Detainers, are reviewed in the assigned department at 3:30 p.m.

  • Mondays-Department 18 (Tuesday, if Monday is a court holiday)
    Civil and Family Law Courthouse 3055 Cleveland Avenue
  • Tuesdays-Department 17
    Empire Annex 3035 Cleveland Avenue, Suite 200
  • Wednesdays-Department 19
    Civil and Family Law Courthouse 3055 Cleveland Avenue
  • Thursdays-Department 16
    Empire Annex 3035 Cleveland Avenue, Suite 200
Unlawful Detainer Ex Parte matters are reviewed Monday through Friday. Documents are to be submitted at the Main Courthouse at 600 Administration Drive, Room 107-J, Santa Rosa, California no later than 8:30 am. Documents will be ready for pick-up after 2:00 pm at Room 107J. Documents submitted after 8:30 am will be ready for pick-up the following court day after 2:00 pm at Room 107-J. This is for emergency orders only. Routine matters will not be addressed.

View Civil Division Calendar Assignments

Civil Settlement Conference Program

The Sonoma County Superior Court has implemented a Mandatory Settlement Conference Program ("MSCP"), which relies on the voluntary assistance of the local bar.  The court asks attorneys who have been in practice for at least 10 years to volunteer their time as panelists for the settlement conferences, typically 2 or 3 times a year.  The conferences are conducted by a two-attorney panel, and take place at the courthouse.  The two attorneys work together to help the parties find a resolution to their case that will avoid the expense, stress, and uncertainty of trial, while freeing up the court from the increasing burden of an expanding caseload. 

Twice each year, the judicial assistant in charge of the MSCP sends out a notice for attorneys to select dates to serve as panelists.  The court asks that attorneys reply to the judicial assistant promptly, so that the court can schedule conferences timely. 

Depending on judges’ availability, upon advance request, the court will attempt to assist panelists in their efforts to resolve cases and in most cases will make a judge and staff available to put a settlement on the record in open court.

The ORIGINAL Civil Settlement Conference Statement shall be delivered directly to the appropriate Settlement Conference Coordinator with COPIES delivered directly to the panelist(s) no later than five (5) court days prior to the conference. The Court will not provide the statements to the panelist(s).  Failure to comply with this directive may result in monetary sanctions being imposed.

The parties shall notify the appropriate Settlement Conference Coordinator AND the panelist(s) of a pre-conference settlement. Failure to comply may result in monetary sanctions being imposed.

The court strongly encourages you to establish email contact with your assigned settlement conference panelist(s), for use in providing briefs, confirming attendance, and notification to panelists of pre-conference settlement, before panelists make an unnecessary appearance at court.

Luce Gonzales in Department 19 is the Coordinator for Settlement Conferences.

View Civil Settlement Conference Calendar

 

 

Tentative Rulings

For Civil Tentative Ruling Recordings:
  • Law and Motion (707) 521-6881
    Tentative rulings are available after 2:00 p.m. the day prior to scheduled hearing.
  • Case Management Calendar (707) 521-6881
    Tentative rulings are available three court days prior to hearing.
  • OSC Calendar (707) 521-6881
    Tentative rulings are available two court days prior to hearing.
  • Probate (707) 521-6881
    Tentatives are available by 11:00 a.m. the day prior to scheduled hearing
  • Family Law - Law and Motion Tentative rulings (707) 521-6881
    Tentative ruling are available after 2:00 p.m. the day prior to the scheduled hearing.
    Civil Tentative Rulings are also available on this website

Public Access and Research Information

Access Information:

The Court does not provide case information via the Internet.  On-site public access information terminals are available for researching cases at the Hall of Justice in Room 107J.

Copy Information:

  • Cost for Copies: $0.50 per page
  • Certification Fee: $25.00 per document in addition to the copy fee.
  • Exemplification of Copy of Record: $50.00 in addition to the copying and comparing fee of $0.50 per page.
  • Ten copies or less will be made while you wait. If you request more than 10 copies, you will be asked to complete a Copy Order form. Copies will be available for pick up 2 to 5 days later.
  • Copies may be requested by mail. If you would like copies mailed to you, there is a minimum fee of $2.25 to cover postage and handling in addition to the copying fee of $0.50 per page.

Fee Schedule

Small Claims Legal Advisor

For hours and location:http://www.empcol.edu/small-claims-advice

Pursuant to Sections 116.260 & 116.940 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, Sonoma County provides a free legal advisor service to help you understand the process and procedures of the Small Claims Court and to give you some direction in the preparation and presentation of your case.

The following may help you better understand the functions and limitations of the Advisor Service:
  1. The Advisor can only assist you in matters which could involve Small Claims Court and related areas.
  2. The Advisor will offer you information, opinions and advice based upon education, experience, & the facts presented.
  3. The Advisor may provide information regarding referrals to other agencies.
  4. The Advisor may suggest a lawyer referral service when issues are complex or more detailed attention is desired.
  5. The Advisor may refer you to the Law Library or other source to research your own inquiries further.
  6. The Advisor cannot represent anyone and is not an advocate.
  7. The Advisor does not prepare documents.
  8. Communications with the Advisor are confidential.
  9. Advisors have the immunity conferred by Section 818.9 of the Government Code with respect to the advice given.
  10. Please remember, often there is no clear-cut, exact answer
Some things to consider before filing or defending a suit:
  1. Have I tried to negotiate and possibly settle the dispute?
  2. Have I made a demand for payment or performance?
  3. Is the suit brought within the proper time limits?
  4. Do I have a case, do I have a defense?
  5. Who do I sue, where do I sue?
  6. Can I get the defendant(s) served properly before trial?
  7. Can I collect if I win?
  8. Is the legal theory on which my case or defense is based sound?
  9. Certain rights are waived in Small Claims Court such as plaintiffs right to appeal, pre-trial discovery, etc. Also, other procedural & evidentiary rules do not apply or are applied differently in Small Claims Court.
  10. Small Claims Judges, although they may, are under no obligation to explain their decisions.
Some tips for Court:
  1. Be prepared.
  2. Learn a little law.
  3. Get your story straight.
  4. Present proof, not just a good story.
  5. Don't make the Judge guess.
  6. Be brief, stick to the point, only offer relevant testimony and evidence.
  7. Don't argue with the other party, direct your comments to the Judge.

Discovery Facilitator Program

Local Rule 4.14: Discovery Facilitator Program

List of Facilitators

For information on how to join the panel of Discovery Facilitators, contact Lewis Warren at lwarren@abbeylaw.com.

Alternatively, Mr. Warren may be contacted at (707) 542-5050.

Voluntary E-Service

The Sonoma County Superior Court, working in conjunction with the Bench Bar Section of the Sonoma County Bar Association, now offers voluntary e-service.

Implementing e-service in your Sonoma County cases is simple.
The Court has pre-approved the Stipulation and Order (CV-42 - in Word format, download the form before you open it) to submit for case(s) in which you want to use e-service.

E-service cuts the time and expenses associated with pleadings and discovery, including postage, courier fees, printing costs, and stuffing envelopes by using a secure, password-protected Web site to disseminate documents.

All it requires is a computer and an internet connection. There's no special software. No fees for training or support. You pay a single transaction fee to serve all of the parties in your case. And you can automatically receive an email notification when you receive new incoming service of documents filed by other counsel in your case.

The advantages to e-service are:

  • Increased Efficiency: Send multiple documents to multiple parties.
  • Speed of Delivery: Eliminate postal delays.
  • Verifiable Proof of Delivery: Never worry that things got lost in the mail or were blocked by firewalls or spam filters.
  • Reduced Costs: On photocopying, messengers and postage charges.
  • Searchable On line Repository: Instant, 24/7 access to all e-served case documents.
  • Save Storage Space and Trees: Reduce the amount of paper kept on file.

Courtesy copy provided immediately to the court: Each of the Civil Court Judges will have access to pleadings over the internet. No more worries about them not receiving the Reply Brief sufficiently in advance of the hearing.

You receive instant confirmation that your documents have been delivered so you have a record of the parties served and the date and the time delivered. Never again worry about important documents being lost, altered or corrupted. With e-service you gain speed, efficiency and an immediate cost-savings over old-fashioned paper-based systems.

Additional information about Voluntary e-Service and the service providers currently available in Sonoma County is available on the Website of the Sonoma County Bar Association: www.sonomacountybar.org

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I appear by telephone?

Not all calendars allow appearance by phone. If telephonic appearance is allowed - and the tentative rulings can tell you if the calendar allows that - you may only do so by contacting Court Call directly at (888) 882-6878.

Do I have to let the other side look at my Order before it's signed?

Local Rule 5.9, and California Rules of Court, rule 327 govern Orders after hearing. To get your order processed quickly and without problems, you should mail a copy to the attorney for the other side and have them approve the form of the order. A proof of service by mail should be attached.

How do I find out the tentative ruling?

Tentative rulings are available for the following calendars on the Tentative Rulings Page.

Each calendar is listed under the assigned department.

  • Case Management Calendar (CMC)
  • Collections Calendar
  • Guardianship
  • Order To Show Cause (OSC) Calendar
  • Law & Motion Calendar
  • Probate
  • Trial Call
How do I get a judgment off my credit report?

The court cannot remove an item from your credit report. You should contact the credit reporting agency regarding information on your credit report. If you have paid the judgment AND the other party has filed an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment form, you may obtain a copy of that form from the Court's file. Send it to the credit reporting agency to prove that you have paid the debt.

How long can I expect to wait until my case is called?

This depends on the size of the court calendar. It is suggested that you plan to be here all morning, if you have a morning appointment and all afternoon, if you have an afternoon appointment. Court office hours are 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

I have a Motion to Continue Trial, will there be a tentative ruling?

There will not be a tentative ruling for this calendar. Attorneys must be present on behalf of their clients. If you are self represented, you must be at the hearing.

I paid my judgment to the other party, but they did not file proof with the court. What do I do?

In a Small Claims case, you may file an Application for Presumed Satisfaction of Judgment. This form is available at the court or from the Small Claims advisor. There will be a fee to obtain this order.

In cases other than Small Claims, you should seek legal advice.

I paid my judgment to the other party, how do I prove it?

If you have paid the judgment AND the other party has filed an Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment form, you may obtain a copy of that form from the Court's file. Send it to the credit reporting agency to prove that you have paid the debt.

I submitted an Order after my hearing, how long does it take to get signed?

Orders after a hearing are processed as routine. Local Rules outline generally an order submitted for signature will be processed in 15 working days.

I want to sue someone, what forms do I need?

You may be able to use Small Claims Court if the amount owed is less than $7,500. Information regarding the current filing fee and the forms are available on the local forms page.

There are many possible forms that you may need, depending on the circumstances of your case. The clerks at the courthouse cannot give you legal advice, they can provide the forms but cannot recommend which form to use. The Small Claims Advisor is available to assist you.

For assistance in identifying the proper forms, you may contact an attorney. You may also contact the Lawyer Referral Service for Sonoma County. You may also contact Sonoma County Legal Aid if you qualify for services.

I was given a hearing date, called a Case Management Conference. Is this my trial?

No, this is not your trial date. You must file an Answer or Response if you have been served a Summons. In addition, you must file a Case Management Statement (form CM-110).

I was served with a Summons, what do I do?

You should seek legal advice. You can contact the Sonoma County Bar Association for a list of local attorneys, or you may look in the yellow pages. You may also contact the Lawyer Referral Service for Sonoma County. You may also contact Sonoma County Legal Aid if you qualify for services.

Once served with a Summons, you have a specific period of time to respond. This response – usually called an "Answer" - must be on the proper forms, with a proof of service, and must be filed before the deadline. Your summons will have a number of days, either 5, 10 or 30, this is your timeline.

If your deadline ends on a Court holiday or weekend, you have until 4:00 p.m. on the next business day to file your "Answer".

Failure to take any action at all, or failure to file the appropriate Answer may result in judgment being entered against you without a court trial.

Where do I get forms for a lawsuit or small claims?

You can obtain most forms on our website by accessing the Forms Home Page.

What is an "Answer"?

An "Answer" is a legal term for the document you need to file if you have been served with a Summons. Your summons will have a number of days given to respond, either 5, 10 or 30, to file your response. This response – usually called an "Answer" - must be on the proper forms, with a proof of service, and must be filed before the deadline.

If your deadline ends on a Court holiday or weekend, you have until 4:00 p.m. on the next business day to file your "Answer".

Failure to take any action at all, or failure to file the appropriate Answer may result in judgment being entered against you without a court trial.

If you need help to identify the correct forms, or help in filing the forms out, you should seek legal advice. You can contact the Sonoma County Bar Association for a list of local attorneys, or you may look in the yellow pages. You may also contact the Lawyer Referral Service for Sonoma County. You may also contact Sonoma County Legal Aid.

What is an "ex parte"?

Ex parte is a legal term referring to communication with the Judge by one side. Ex parte communication is only allowed if all communication is in writing AND notice is given to the other party.

Ex Parte documents are used to obtain orders from the Court, normally for emergencies. A typical ex parte action is a request for a restraining order or preliminary injunction.

 

© 2014 Superior Court of Sonoma County