Sacramento Public Library

California Court Cases Guide

How do I find information on California court cases?
To find copies of court documents, or judge’s decisions, researchers should understand the structure of California’s court system.

The three types of courts in California:
  1. Trial courts
  • These are courts at the county or city level, usually called superior or municipal courts. These cases are not published. To obtain case information, you must contact the court clerk for the particular court in which the case was filed.
  • For the Sacramento County Superior Court, some case information is available on the Internet and on microfiche: Search on the Sacramento County Superior Court Case Index.
 
  1. Appellate courts
These are intermediate level state courts. When a person files an appeal in his or her case from the county level, the case goes to an appellate court within their geographic region. For example, cases appealed in the Sacramento area generally go to the Third Appellate District Court. The opinions in these cases are published in the California Appellate Reports --- available at the Sacramento County Public Law Library and the California State Law Library. They are also available online through the California Judicial Council (back to 1850).
 
  1. California Supreme Court
This is the highest level state appellate court, also known as the court of last resort in California. When appeals fail at the intermediate level, they sometimes move on to the California Supreme Court. California Supreme Court opinions are published in the California Reports --- available at the Sacramento County Public Law Library and the California State Law Library. They are also available online through the California Judicial Council (back to 1850).
 
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