As supreme law clerk, one of my regular duties is document retrieval.  Yes I know it sounds trivial, but let me assure you the path to court documents is not for the faint of heart. 

Contrary to what you’ve read on the inter-web, electronic documents do not exist in the California Superior Court system.  Occasionally you can pull up a scanned document from a court website, but mostly all you can do online is check to see if they acknowledge the filing of the document.  If you need a copy of the document, then you need to go to the court to get it. 

Yes you can send a letter requesting the documents…smart ass..but it takes 3-4 weeks for a reply.  Most people don’t work on county time, and cant afford to wait around while the clerks office creates paper from pulp and ink from cuttlefish, then uses the slowest method of document transport available…the mail.  Can you fax a document request? NO Can you… call in a request over the phone? NO  You have to either physically walk in and ask, or submit a request through the mail. 

Now that we’ve established you have to go to the court house to get a file, the next question is which court house do you go to.  Well the answer is a riddle, and even the court clerks have no fucking idea.  Normally the court documents are in the court where the case was filed…normally, but only a fool wouldnt call to try and figure out if the court documents are actually in that court house. 

To do that you have to actually call the court house.  Normally not a huge problem.  In San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County they will occasionally pick up the phone…more often then not.  In Orange County, as I type this the County has consolidated all of their court phone numbers to one easy number.  Terrific right? Wrong.

All calls to a Orange county superior court (with the exception of small claims at the Harbor Justice Center Laguna Hills…go figure) get routed to a call center in Santa Ana.  Not that bad you say? Well the neat part is that the call center doesnt actually have enough phone lines to handle the call traffic.  Most of the time when you call you get a message informing you that the circuits are busy and to try back later.  You are better off just driving to the court house…or are you.

Court houses are gems…busy places of public interest with shit for parking.  Everyone will have to go to a court house at some time in their lives, and lots of people go more than they want to, and yet they have enough parking for…none of you. 

If you are lucky enough to go to Los Angeles Superior Court Central Division on Grand Ave off the 101 then you are in luck.  Right across the street is the Dorthy Chandler pavilion…plenty of underground parking…only a measly $17. 

If you are unlucky enough to go to the Riverside county courthouse central where the parking is cheap, you wont be able to find any. 

Now that you’ve gotten there you have to deal with the clerks.  While the DMV has its own special type of employee the court system has them beat.  In the DMV nobody knows what they need, or what they have to do to get it done.  The court system is a little different.  The court has professionals who spend all their time talking to court clerks.  The clerks expect everyone to know exactly what they want when they walk up to their window, and know precisely how to ask for it. 

Clerks are in fact a special breed.  A court clerk has a job, and is not at risk of losing that job…ever…no matter what.  You can just imagine the kind of customer service this type of working situation will breed.  None…it breeds nothing.  The only thing less fertile is a barren dusty 68 yr old hag.  Oh and by the way…shes also who your going to request court documents from. 


Anyway…thought I would share a little of my day.  Next week I’ll talk to you about Archives.  The fun never ends around here.


Time to get dusty