8:05 a.m. The entrance to the Civic Center Courthouse is guarded by security personnel and 2 metal detectors. The courthouse, located near City Hall and the San Francisco Main Public Library, handles matters involving civil, small claims, family law, probate, and dependency.Civic Center Courthouse
8:45 a.m. Judge Anne-Christine Massullo gets her point across during a domestic violence proceeding. If the person seeking a restraining order and the person against whom a restraining order is sought have minor children in common, court orders may be entered regarding custody and visitation of the children.Civic Center Courthouse
8:55 a.m. Commissioner Marjorie A. Slabach gets her files ready in preparation for her daily calendar. Commissioners help the court address its daily workload by performing a variety of judicial functions.Civic Center Courthouse
9:10 a.m. Judge Donna J. Hitchens (facing), Supervising Judge of San Francisco's Unified Family Court, explains the legal ramifications of adopting a child to a soon-to-be parent.Civic Center Courthouse
9:18 a.m. Brian (center) celebrates at his formal adoption ceremony. Brian's biological brother Michael (left) was adopted by the same family 7 months earlier. More than half of California's nearly 80,000 foster children remain in care for 2 or more years, 17 percent of them for more than 3 years.Civic Center Courthouse
9:25 a.m. Greg Goodwin tries to keep his daughter busy as they wait in the hallway outside of a family law courtroom. The Superior Court of San Francisco County received more than 6,200 family law filings in fiscal year 2007-08. Civic Center Courthouse
9:40 a.m. Superior Court Clerk Linda Fong (left) calls out the names of residents who have volunteered to serve on the county’s civil grand jury. As representatives of the public, civil grand jurors investigate issues related to the operations of city and county officers, departments, and agencies and can make recommendations for reform. Civic Center Courthouse
9:43 a.m. Presiding Judge David L. Ballati (left) questions a volunteer for the civil grand jury to make sure that he can be impartial and uphold the law. After this voir dire process, the court’s judges will select a final pool of 30 grand jurors. Generally, applicants in San Francisco County devote at least 15 hours per week to civil grand jury service. Civic Center Courthouse
10:12 a.m. Judge Suzanne R. Bolanos (center) holds a prehearing conference on an order to show cause with Attorneys LeRue Grim (left) and Michael Weiss (right). This hearing is to determine whether one of the parties should be held in contempt of court for failure to comply with previously issued court orders. Civic Center Courthouse
10:40 a.m. Court Executive Officer Gordon Park-Li holds the courtroom door open for a group of lawyers visiting from Japan. During their tour of the courthouse, the visiting lawyers learn about differences between the Japanese and American legal systems, including evidence, opening statements, trial lengths, and how the court operates. Civic Center Courthouse
11:12 a.m. Monica Salazar (right) advises Eliot Helman on how to file for divorce. The court’s family law self-help center sees an average of 100 people per day who need help navigating the court system. Litigants get help on cases involving divorce proceedings, child and spousal support, child custody and visitation orders, adoptions, and domestic violence restraining orders. Civic Center Courthouse
12:05 p.m. Attorneys Stephen Knaster (right) and Eric L. Lifschitz (center) meet with other attorneys from the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) at the court’s ACCESS Center. Twice a week, in partnership with the Eviction Defense Collaborative and the BASF’s Volunteer Legal Services Program, the center hosts mandatory settlement conferences in which volunteer attorneys offer legal services for tenants and landlords involved in unlawful detainer actions. ACCESS Center, Polk St. Annex
12:41 p.m. Located at the base of Twin Peaks, the Youth Guidance Center hears juvenile delinquency cases and juvenile traffic matters. The center has 4 bench officers and is home to the Juvenile Detention Center and the Juvenile Probation Department.
12:49 p.m. Judge Lillian K. Sing (center), Deputy Clerk Jennifer Lohman-Patterson (left), and Court Reporter Maura Baldocchi spruce up the center’s garden located at the inner courtyard of the building. All the plants and flowers in the garden were donated by judges, court staff, attorneys, and other building users and neighbors as a way to liven up the considerably worn 1949 structure.
12:58 p.m. Court Supervisor Shannon Martin waits for the old and deliberate elevator door to close so she can deliver juvenile delinquency case files upstairs. Approximately 100,000 juvenile delinquency filings are recorded each year in California.
1:35 p.m. Located in the same building as the San Francisco Southern Police Station at 850 Bryant St., the Hall of Justice handles criminal and traffic matters. With a constant flow of visitors, the center accommodates thousands of court users every day.Hall of Justice
1:43 p.m. Deputy Clerk Vera Watts (left) helps customers take care of their fines at the criminal court window. In 2007, legislation was enacted requiring each superior court and county to report annually on their collections of court fees and fines.Hall of Justice
1:55 p.m. Deputy Clerks Mary Sison (front) and Benjamin Thompson negotiate the stacks of files located behind the customer service windows. The clerks estimate that 20,000 criminal files are stored here.Hall of Justice
2:30 p.m. Court users line up for the traffic windows, where they can pay traffic fines, get a court date, or sign up for traffic school. Traffic infractions and misdemeanors make up the largest number of court filings among all case types in California. The Superior Court of San Francisco County handles about 115,000 traffic infractions each year.Hall of Justice
2:50 p.m. Judge Charlene P. Kiesselbach presides over a murder trial involving a defendant who is charged with shooting the driver of a stopped car. The Superior Court of San Francisco County conducted 111 felony trials in 2007.Hall of Justice
2:55 p.m. San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia delivers her opening statement. Opening statements provide jurors with an overview of the case and what they can expect to hear through the witnesses and other evidence that will be introduced during the trial.Hall of Justice
3:45 p.m. These copies of the San Francisco Examiner and New York Times are all that's left in the jury assembly room as residents who reported to jury service have either been sent to a courtroom or excused for the day. California has instituted one-day or one-trial jury service—if you are not chosen for jury selection after 1 day at the courthouse, your service is done for at least 1 year.Hall of Justice
4:35 p.m. The "contraband tray" at the security entrance station is filled with items confiscated from visitors during the day. Security personnel routinely screen court visitors and confiscate from them—knives, scissors, box cutters, syringes, and other items not allowed in the courthouse.Hall of Justice