The Civil Division handles non-criminal lawsuits among individuals and/or corporations brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights. The largest division in the San Francisco Superior Court, the Civil Division conducts civil trials and manages civil filings, records, small claims cases, appeals, probate matters, unlawful detainers, defaults, case management, dispute resolution, name changes, and civil restraining orders to prevent harassment and elder abuse.
Civil Grand Jury
California state law requires that all 58 counties impanel a Civil Grand Jury to serve during each fiscal year. The function of the Civil Grand Jury is to investigate the operations of the various officers, departments and agencies of the City and County of San Francisco. The 19 members of the Civil Grand Jury serve for a period of one year, from July 1 through June 30 of the following year, and are selected at random from a pool of 30 prospective grand jurors.
The San Francisco Superior Court is well-recognized nationally for its Collaborative Justice Courts, also known as “problem-solving” courts. These courts work with individuals and families in the criminal justice, juvenile delinquency, and child welfare systems who are challenged by substance abuse, mental illness and other social welfare concerns.
Court Reporters, as guardians of the record, are not only employees of the Court, but purveyors of transcripts for all interested parties. Their professional responsibilities include providing appellate transcripts to the California Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of California, as well as legislated transcripts arising out of criminal proceedings. Court reporters who report in civil, family and juvenile matters also work with law firms and the public to provide requested transcripts.
The Criminal Court has jurisdiction over infraction, misdemeanor and felony cases. The Criminal Court conducts arraignments, preliminary hearings, trials, motions, probation hearings, mental health proceedings, and other types of criminal proceedings. These cases are heard in the Hall of Justice Building, 850 Bryant St. (between 6th and 7th streets). However, some criminal cases are heard in the Civic Center Courthouse, 400 McAllister St., and the Community Justice Center, 575 Polk St. Calendars are posted on the wall outside Room 101, Monday-Friday.
The Human Resources Office staff administers programs for Court employees’ pay and benefits; job classifications; recruitment, selection and hiring; labor relations, grievances and labor contract negotiations; employee relations and investigations; employee safety and disability programs; and disciplinary actions and appeals.
The San Francisco Superior Court seeks to provide the most efficient and convenient jury service experience for criminal and civil trials. Daily reporting instructions, frequently asked questions, maps, parking information, and directions to the Courthouse locations are available to assist you with your service.
The Probate Court deals directly with the everyday personal and financial matters of San Franciscans. Most people think of probate courts as working exclusively with wills and the financial affairs of people who have died. However, the Probate Court also deals with guardianships of children, conservatorships of adults, mental health treatment, trusts, elder abuse and dependent adult restraining orders.
In the Small Claims Court disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively, the rules are simple and informal. Litigants may not be represented by an attorney. The Small Claims Jurisdiction is limited to $7,500 for individual. Corporations, partnerships, governmental entities and other legal entities cannot claim more than $5,000. Individuals may file unlimited claims for up to $2,500 each in a year. However, individuals may only file two claims a year that seek more than $2,500.
Traffic Court deals with violations of traffic laws and other minor offenses of state and county ordinances. These violations are considered “infractions” and include, for example, speeding, cell phone violations, expired registrations and automobile equipment needing repair. Infractions are enforced by the issuance of citations (“tickets”) by law enforcement.
Unified Family Court
Unified Family Court (UFC) is comprised of Juvenile Dependency, Juvenile Delinquency and Family Law. Its mission is to provide coordinated services to those who have family-related issues in the Court system; strengthen services to the community; and assist and promote healthy families and children. UFC handles divorce, legal separation and nullity; parentage; domestic abuse restraining orders; child, spousal and family support; child custody and visitation; mediation and self-help services; child abuse and neglect; and minors’ violations of criminal law.