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California Resources

More About California Courts

The California Court system has three levels: the California Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeal and the Superior Courts. These courts are governed by three distinct judicial bodies: the Judicial Council, the Commission on Judicial Performance, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The California Supreme Court is the state's highest court. It has authority to review decisions of the Courts of Appeal and its decisions are binding on all other California state courts. The court is seated in San Francisco, and conducts sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. The Supreme Court has one Chief Justice and six associate justices who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The California Courts of Appeals are California's intermediate courts of appellate review. California has six appellate districts: 1st Appellate District, San Francisco; 2nd Appellate District, Los Angeles; 3rd Appellate District, Sacramento; 4th Appellate District, San Diego; 5th Appellate District, Fresno; and 6th Appellate District, San Jose. The California Legislature apportions the number of judges for each district.

In 1998, California unified their superior and municipal courts into a single superior court with jurisdiction over all case types. Each of California's 58 counties has one Superior Court which are considered courts of general jurisdiction. The California Legislature determines the number of judges in each court who serve six-year terms and are elected by county voters on a nonpartisan ballot at a general election. Superior courts have trial jurisdiction over all criminal and civil cases.

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Court Rules

Official California court rules are no longer published in print. Current rules can be found on the California Courts Judicial Council site, including new and amended rules adopted by the Judicial Council, and local (county) court rules.

Unofficial, annotated versions of court rules may be located in the following sources:

Resources & Readings