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CIVIL: GENERAL INFORMATION

The “Ask a Question?” application is for general procedural questions. Case specific questions will not be answered by this application. If you need procedural assistance with case specific issues, please refer to the appropriate section on the court’s website. For additional assistance, you will need to send written correspondence, visit one of the Self-Help Centers, or a Case Processing Division for your specific case type.

Most Criminal-Traffic inquiries from the public can be resolved by calling our automated phone system (877) 872-2122 and payments can be made at the following link: Criminal-Traffic Payments. Due to budget constraints, you will not be able to reach a live operator through the automated system.


WHAT IS A CIVIL ACTION?

This section is about general civil cases which typically involve disputes about contracts, damage to property or someone getting hurt. For cases involving an eviction, see the section for Landlord/Tenant actions.

Civil cases are divided into types, depending on how much money is owed:

  • A lawsuit for more than $25,000.00 is called an "unlimited" civil action.
  • A lawsuit for $25,000.00 or less is called a "limited" civil action.
  • You can also file in Small Claims Court for $10,000.00 or less. You can read about this in the Small Claims section of this website. If you are owed more than $10,000.00, you can waive the difference and file in Small Claims Court.
  • A lawsuit that requires exceptional Judicial Management (see Rule 3.400 of the California Rules of Court) is called a "complex" civil action.

ASSISTANCE BY PHONE, IN PERSON OR ONLINE

Superior Court of Orange County Civil Division Court Staff:

The Civil Division court staff can assist you in person with forms, filing documents for cases, and procedural matters Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 4:00pm at the court locations below, except for the Civil Complex Center. The Civil Complex Center hours are 8:00am to 4:00pm. Recorded general information is available at the phone numbers listed below. However, due to fiscal constraints, no call agents are available by phone.

Superior Court of Orange County Self-Help Centers:

Self-Help Center staff is available from Monday-Thursday 8:00am to 4:00pm and Friday 8:00am - 3:00pm to provide procedural guidance and information regarding forms for Civil matters. For locations of Self-Help Centers, see below.

Superior Court of Orange County Website:

The court provides a variety of online services. You may view your case, purchase documents, access and fill out forms, check the court’s calendar, and eFile your documents.

Drop Box Information:

Drop boxes or door slots are located at each of the courthouses below, with 24/7 access. Properly completed documents along with the fees for filing (if any) placed in these drop boxes before 4:00pm on an open court day will be considered received on the same date.


CIVIL COURTHOUSE LOCATIONS, HOURS AND VENUE

You can go to any of the courts below for procedural assistance between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm, and at the Civil Complex Center between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. The amount of your lawsuit as well as the "venue" determines the proper court. Please see the chart below to determine which court you need to put on your document for the proper venue before you file your documents. Recorded general information is available at the phone numbers listed below. However, due to fiscal constraints, no call agents are available by phone.


Limited Civil Justice Centers (actions $25,000 and under)

Phone Number

Examples of "venue" include where the defendant lives or does business; where the plaintiff’s property was damaged; where the plaintiff was injured; or where the contract was made, signed, performed, or broken.
Central Justice Center
700 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Civil Division - 1st Floor, Room D 100
Self-Help Center - 1st Floor, Room G-100

(657) 622-6878

Orange County – all cities



Unlimited Civil Justice Center (actions over $25,000)

Phone Number

For Property Located In:

Central Justice Center
Unlimited Civil
700 Civic Center Dr.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Civil Division - 1st Floor, Room D 100
Self-Help Center - 1st Floor, Room G-100

(657) 622-6878

Orange County - all cities

Central Justice Center
Complex Civil (requires exceptional Judicial Management- Rule 3.400 of the California Rules of Court)

Civil Complex Center
751 W. Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(657) 622-5300 Orange County-all cities

CIVIL FORMS AND LAW

FORMS:

Civil forms are available online, or at one of the Justice Centers above. Read more about court forms in the The Basics of Court Forms.

If you do not find the correct form to file, you will have to formally prepare the document on pleading paper in accordance with the California Rules of Court, rules 2.100 to 2.119.

LAWS:

eFILING

Documents may be electronically filed (eFiled).

Pursuant to section 1010.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, rule 2.253(b)(2) of the California Rules of Court, Orange County Superior Court Rule 352, and Administrative Order 13/03, all documents filed by attorneys in limited, unlimited, and complex civil actions must be filed electronically unless the Court rules otherwise. Self-represented parties are exempt from the mandatory electronic filing requirement set forth in Orange County Superior Court Local Rules 352, but are strongly encouraged to participate voluntarily in electronic filing and service.

Electronically filed documents subject to the mandatory electronic filing requirements in civil limited, unlimited, and complex actions can be filed until midnight on the day that the filing is due, and will be considered timely pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1010.6 subdivision (d)(1)(D). The document is “filed” at the date and time it is received by the court and the confirmation of receipt is created. See Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 2.259(a)(1). Any electronically filed document received by the Court on or after midnight will be file stamped on the next court day.

eFiling for Probate cases is encouraged but is not required.

In addition to the Self-Help Centers, if you need access to a computer to eFile, you can find public computers at most public libraries and at the Public Law Library.


ASKING FOR A JURY TRIAL

The party that asks for a jury trial must pay the jury fees. They must pay for every person in the jury every day. If the people on the jury come from far away, the party that wanted the jury will have to pay their travel expenses. Every day before court begins, that party will have to deposit the fees and travel expenses for the trial. For more information about jury trials, please follow this link to Choosing a Jury and this link to Frequently Asked Questions.


COPY AND RECORD SEARCH REQUESTS

Find information on how to:


WHAT IF I HAVE A DISABILITY AND NEED SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS?

If you have a disability and need help, fill out a Request for Accommodations By Persons With Disabilities (MC-410) and file it with the court as soon as possible, but at least five days before the trial date.


WHAT IF I NEED AN INTERPRETER?

SELECTING AN INTERPRETER

By law, in California all official court business must be conducted in English. When one of the parties or witnesses in a case does not speak English well, that person will need a court interpreter (who speaks English and the non-English speaker’s first language) so he or she can understand what is going on and talk to the judge.

In some cases (like criminal cases) the interpreter is paid for by the court and may be a court employee. However, in civil cases, with the exception of domestic violence proceedings and hearings for support involving the Department of Child Support Services in Family Law cases, the person needing the interpreter must get and pay for his or her own interpreter or get a friend to help interpret. It is your responsibility to get your own interpreter. You can ask a friend, relative, or someone else to interpret for you when you go to court. Do not ask a child to interpret for you.

Keep in mind that just because someone you know speaks both English and your first language does not mean he or she would be a good interpreter. A court interpreter needs to be familiar with legal terms and concepts in both English and your first language, and most people are not. That is why it is very important you have an interpreter with experience. If you decide to use a noncertified or nonregistered interpreter, such as a friend or relative, have the person read the instructions and duties for interpreting in the information sheet called Foreign Language Interpreter’s Duties-Civil and Small Claims (INT-200)Open New Window.

To make sure you get an experienced court interpreter, you should consider a professional interpreter who has passed the required examinations and has officially registered and been approved as a court interpreter by the Judicial Council of California. .

There are 2 types of officially-approved court interpreters in California:

  • Certified court interpreters: Only interpreters who pass the Court Interpreter Certification Examination and register with the Judicial Council are referred to as “certified" in these 13 languages:

    American Sign Language, Arabic, Cantonese, Eastern Armenian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Western Armenian.

  • Registered court interpreters: Interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no state certifying examination are called “registered interpreters of non-designated languages.” They must pass an English proficiency examination, and register with the state’s Judicial Council.
TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENTS

The California Courts website has a list of certified and registered interpreters for oral interpretation. Certified and registered interpreters may also translate documents, however, the California Courts does not test or certify an interpreter's written translation skills. The American Translators Association can also interpret documents.

TIPS FOR USING AN INTERPRETER

Using a court interpreter can be awkward because you have to go through another person to get your information or talk to the judge. Follow these tips when using an interpreter in a courtroom:

  • Listen carefully to the interpreter.
  • Wait for the interpreter to finish talking before you answer.
  • Speak slowly so the interpreter can hear everything you say.

Do not interrupt, even if someone in court says something bad about you. You will get a chance to speak.

INTERPRETERS FOR THE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING

Note: There are also American Sign Language interpreters and real time captioning for parties and witnesses that are deaf or hard-of-hearing (or have another disability). The court will provide a sign language interpreter or court reporter for you or other accommodation you may need. You can read more about this in the For Persons With Disabilities Requesting Accommodations section of this website to learn about the court's policy for accommodating persons with disabilities. Make your request as soon as possible, but at least 5 days prior to the hearing.


CAN I BRING CHILDREN TO COURT?

Children may be brought to the court and may stay in "Children’s Chambers" while their caregivers are conducting business with the court. Children’s Chambers is a safe drop-in center for children that lets children be children instead of spending long sessions listening to adult interactions that could be painful or frightening.

You can read more about which courts offer a Children’s Chambers and the guidelines.


LEGAL HELP

For legal advice, you may contact a lawyer referral service.

Lawyers can be expensive. A civil case can be complicated and difficult to navigate without legal advice. Unless you are familiar with the laws, policies, rules, forms, and protocol, you should consider hiring a lawyer.

You may wish to consider hiring a lawyer for a limited-scope representation. Limited-scope representation is when you and a lawyer agree that the lawyer will handle some parts of your case and you will handle others.

You can read more about whether you should represent yourself in the California Courts website.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

There are a variety of resources which provide you with information about Civil disputes.

These are just a few:

© 2014 Superior Court of Orange County