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Upcoming Los Angeles Superior Court Changes

December 11, 2012

Murchison & Cumming, LLP would like to update you on upcoming plans for the Los Angeles Superior Court. Despite the passage of Proposition 30, the court continues to operate under substantial fiscal constraints. As a result, the following substantial changes are planned. These changes are expected to be implemented over six months beginning in January of 2013, and completed by June of 2013.

Ten courthouses are scheduled to be closed:

  • Huntington Park
  • Whittier
  • Pomona North
  • Malibu
  • West Los Angeles
  • Beverly Hills
  • San Pedro
  • Beacon Street
  • Catalina
  • and Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center.

There will be no court-provided court reporters for civil matters. Parties will have to arrange for court reporters for all civil law and motion and all civil trials. See http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/courtreporter/ui/. The court will likely retain court reporters for some types of matters such as family law.

All personal injury (PI) cases (including wrongful death and medical malpractice) will be filed downtown in the Mosk courthouse and will be assigned to one of two Master Calendar (MC) courtrooms.

Each MC judge is expected to have as many as 8,000 cases at any one time.

There will be no MC courtrooms in the districts. A PI case will be in the district only if the MC court determines (at the request of a party) it should be transferred to an Individual Calendaring (IC)court in the district because the case will be too "appearance-heavy" for MC, but does not qualify for complex designation. It is expected that about 10% of PI cases will be transferred to IC courts.

Parties will receive trial and final status conference dates at the filing window when the Complaint is first filed.

The court will no longer monitor service of Summons & Complaint.

The court will be seeking a Court Rule change to eliminate case management conferences in PI cases. And there will be no more Orders to Show Cause regarding: Dismissal, Default, or Service, nor will there be any Post-Mediation Status Conferences.

Trials (if the Complaint is timely and properly served and if Notice of the Trial and Final Status Conference was timely and properly given) will be assigned to one of the dedicated trial courtrooms (10 downtown in the Mosk courthouse, plus others spread around the county). Parties may or may not get trial downtown in the Mosk courthouse and will not know until the day of trial where the case will be sent for trial.

The court has not determined whether any changes will be made as to those PI cases that are currently pending before IC Judges.

Insurance bad faith and wrongful termination/discrimination/harassment are not considered PI cases, and thus will remain in IC courts or in complex.

All LASC collections cases will now be handled out of two Master Calendar departments, one in Norwalk and one in Chatsworth. Collections trials will be spread around the County. All non-collection limited jurisdiction cases, including limited jurisdiction PI cases, will be handled by two Master Calendar courts downtown in the Mosk courthouse (limited jurisdiction cases in the North District - Antelope Valley - are expected to stay there, although all PI cases will be sent downtown to the Mosk Courthouse). These will be different MC courts from the general jurisdiction PI MC courts. Trials of limited jurisdiction PI cases will be spread across the county. All civil harassment cases will go to family courts. All probate cases will be downtown in the Mosk courthouse (shuttering 7 to 9 branch probate courts); however, a bench officer may travel to conduct some guardianship or conservatorship hearings in some branches. All small claims will be heard only in six courthouses (Lancaster; downtown, Mosk courthouse; Alhambra, for the entire eastern part of the county; Van Nuys, north; Norwalk and Inglewood). Unlawful detainers will be heard only in four courthouses (downtown, Mosk courthouse; Santa Monica; Long Beach and Pasadena).

The Temporary Judge (Judge Pro Tem) and all court-run Alternative Dispute Resolution programs will be discontinued.

Judges, commissioners will focus on one, or possibly two types of cases only. There will be geographic hubs for some types of cases (as with Probate, above). Further reductions in courtrooms will occur, as will further reductions in courtroom staff. One court liaison will serve two to three courtrooms--so the courtroom will have only a judge or commissioner and a clerk most of the time.

Central Civil West (CCW)will still operate as it now does; all complex cases, asbestos exposure cases, and class actions will be handled there as they are now. However, the court is considering certain operational changes to endeavor to eliminate the volume of paper that must be processed in the complex cases.

Settlement courts will be maintained in the current numbers in the districts, including seven downtown. Specific locations have not yet been determined.

These changes are currently anticipated. The situation remains in a state of flux and further adjustments and tweaks may occur.

Murchison & Cumming will provide more information in the upcoming weeks.