California Court Records

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford, Thelma Berkey Walsmith, and Nell Sachse Woodard in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the California Family History Research series.
History of California
California Vital Records
Census Records for California
Background Sources for California
California Maps
California Land Records
California Probate Records
California Court Records
California Tax Records
California Cemetery Records
California Church Records
California Military Records
California Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
California Archives, Libraries, and Societies
California Immigration
California Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of California
California Gold Rush
California County Resources
Map of California

The California court system has four levels of jurisdiction: the municipal court, which largely took the place of the earlier justice of the peace court at the local level; the superior court, a countywide court that handles both civil and criminal cases and cases involving minors; the six district courts of appeal, which review all cases coming from the superior courts except those involving the death penalty; and the state supreme court, which takes extraordinary writs, all appeals in death penalty cases, and may review all other appeals.

Each of these courts has a clerk of the court, and correspondence regarding a particular case should be directed to the clerk of the court having jurisdiction over the litigation. If there is doubt as to which court to seek information from, the State Attorney General's Office, 1515 K St., Sacramento, CA 95814, can provide this information The California State Archives has many state and county court records. The archives' website (see Archives) has inventories of records listed by county.