A busload of inmates arrives at the Central Justice Center in downtown Santa Ana. Some 300 inmates from jails located in Santa Ana, Orange, and Irvine are scheduled for court appearances on this day. More than 25,000 felony (limited and unlimited) cases are filed in Orange County each year.
Systems analyst Lorenzo Villanueva examines wiring in the main server room at the Central Justice Center. The Court Technology Services department assigns two to five staff to each of the nine county court locations to provide computer support services to court employees.
Court users line up at the Traffic Division to pay traffic tickets and schedule court appearances. The Central Justice Center handles approximately 136,000 traffic cases a year.
Court security officer Rodrigo Serrano waves a metal detector over court reporter Kathleen Pierson as she passes through the security gate at the east entrance. At the downtown courthouse security is provided by 125 deputies and special officers of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Judge W. Michael Hayes addresses potential jurors in the jury assembly room. Some 550 jurors assembled on this day to hear six jury trials.
Presiding Judge Fred Horn consults with executive administrative assistant Catalina Caballero. Judge Horn has served as presiding judge since January 2001 and oversees a court employing 109 judges and 35 commissioners.
Bailiff Brenda Bradbury calls jurors for a civil case to be heard in Department C14 before Judge Charles Margines.
Judge Wendy S. Lindley congratulates participants in dual diagnosis court. Judge Lindley started this diversion program in October 2002 as an alternative to incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders who may be facing mental health issues. Fifty-one people participate in the 18- to 24-month program which offers a range of sentencing options, including community service, psychological evaluation, and drug rehabilitation.
Deputy Public Defender MacDonald Becket, Jr., takes a phone call during a recess of a criminal calendar being heard in Department C5 before Judge Daniel J. Didier. The Orange County Office of the Public Defender employs more than 185 deputy public defenders, alternate defenders, and associate defenders who provide legal representation in approximately 65,000 cases annually to defendants who cannot afford lawyers.
Executive Officer Alan Slater began his career as an intern at the court in 1972 and quickly rose through the ranks to his current position in 1980. Mr. Slater is responsible for 1,520 court staff.
Court staff view an AOC-TV broadcast for court clerks on the differences between providing legal advice versus legal information. Each week the Administrative Office of the Courts' Education Division broadcasts via satellite TV instructional programs on a variety of topics to the courts. The AOC also produces a monthly TV newsmagazine for court professionals, California Courts News.
Byron Osuna spruces up the courthouse as part of his 84-hour community service commitment to work off a traffic citation.
Office assistant Laura Kirby displays one of the many pieces of evidence stored in a warehouse near the main courthouse. The warehouse, which formerly housed the old Buffum's department store, contains more than 8,600 exhibits and items used in criminal and civil cases dating back to 1961.
Mario J. Waldor views court records using a self-service kiosk in the Civil Records Management Department. Civil cases may be viewed electronically from any one of 17 public terminals. Two of the terminals print Judicial Council and local forms "on demand" and at no cost to the public.
Judge Kirk H. Nakamura hears a civil case in Department C9. Approximately 16,000 new civil unlimited cases are filed each year. Judge Nakamura is one of 29 judges who each handle some 300 civil cases a year.
Jaime A. Lino fills out Order to Show Cause forms using the Interactive Community Assistance Network (I-CAN!), a Web-based self-help kiosk located in the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange. Implemented in 2000 in partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, this innovative system enables self-represented litigants to use a touchscreen or Web interface to create properly formatted pleadings and complete legal forms. The Orange County court won a 2003 Ralph N. Kleps Award for Improvement in the Administration of the Courts for this groundbreaking system.
Court users file forms and set hearing dates pertaining to divorce, child support, child custody/visitation, and other family law matters at the Family Law Clerk of the Court Office at the Lamoreaux Justice Center. Some 25,000 family law cases are filed at the court each year.
Court interpreter Susan Aguilar (left) and family law facilitator Jody Farrell assist a court user with his child support case. The Family Law Facilitator's Office, which consists of two facilitators and one paralegal, holds daily workshops as well as provides one-on-one assistance.
Child-care provider Luz Herrera tidies up the children's waiting room at the Lamoreaux Justice Center. The child-care center provides free care for children while their parents are conducting court business. The Central Justice Center in Santa Ana and the North Justice Center in Fullerton also house child-care centers.
Office assistant Maricarmen Flores transports the day's case records to the main courthouse's basement for storage. More than 800,000 active criminal and civil case files are stored at three off-site locations nearby.
Court security officer Veronica Chavira keeps a watchful eye throughout the main courthouse. Since FY 2000-2001, court security costs have increased nearly 25 percent. Statewide security expenditures for fiscal year 2003-04 totaled approximately $335 million and represented 15 percent of the trial courts' total operating expenditures.
Activity at the main courthouse remains lively even as the day draws to an end. Public service windows at the court building typically close at 4 p.m., but on this day some services will remain available until 6 p.m.
Every third Tuesday of the month, the main courthouse offers extended services during night court, where court users can file papers and set up court hearing dates for traffic and small claims cases.
Court security officers Cynthia Guerrero and Hung Vuong lower the American flag from atop the main courthouse's roof.