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Your Day in Civil Court
Who Can Assist With The Case?

Legal assistance is available from various agencies located throughout the County.
Self-representation is an option (except in Small Claims cases where it is mandatory), but not recommended. Each step in preparing a case for trial can be technical and there are deadlines that must be met. Court staff cannot provide legal advice regarding your case or provide assistance as to the meaning or preparation of any forms.
Do not use unregistered legal document assistants. Assisting someone without being a registered unlawful detainer assistant or an attorney is a crime.
For more information about finding a lawyer or a lawyer referral, go to the California Association of Legal Document Assistants website.
For self-help information provided by the Judicial Council of California, go to the California Courts website.
For more information about finding a registered legal document assistant or a legal document assistant referral, go to the California State Bar website.
Where Do I File My Complaint?

Cases are assigned to individual courthouses pursuant to Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rule 2.3. The following criteria are used to determine where a case should be filed:
  • The defendant lived within the judicial district at the commencement of the action.
  • The contract was entered into or to be performed in the judicial district.
  • The accident or injury (tort) occurred in the judicial district.
  • The real property in dispute is located in the judicial district.
You find the correct courthouse location to file your complaint by entering your city/community or zip code in the Filing Court Locator.
To find the courthouse where you can file your complaint, use to the Filing Court Locator.
For more information about Civil Division Rules, go Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules.
What Is The Filing Fee?

Filing fees are paid to cover the administrative costs of filing a case.
For information on filing fees, go to the Fee Schedule.
What Happens If I Cannot Afford To Pay The Filing Fee?

Fee Waivers are available for indigent plaintiffs and defendants. Fee waiver eligibility guidelines are listed on the Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs (FW-001-INFO) To obtain a fee waiver, a Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) and the header section of a Request to Waive Additional Court Fees (Superior Court) (FW002) must be completed and submitted to the Clerk's Office for approval.
For the forms listed above and a complete list of Judicial Council fee waiver related forms, go to the California Courts website.
How Can I File By Fax?

You may be able to file your civil case by fax. Paperwork filed by fax must adhere to all requirements of traditional paperwork and include a Facsimile Transmission Cover Sheet (Fax Filing) (MC-005). The following guidelines should be considered:
  • Although designated LASC fax machines can receive documents 24 hours a day, filings received after public business hours or on court holidays shall be deemed filed the next court business day.
  • The proper transmission of a document by fax machine and the confirmation of filing is the responsibility of the filing party, not the court.
  • Each document transmitted for filing with the court shall contain the phrase “By Fax” immediately below the title of the document.
  • A facsimile usage fee of $0.75 cents per page, including the cover sheet and all tab pages, along with all applicable filing fees must be paid by credit card as requested on Facsimile Transmission Cover Sheet(fax Filing) (MC-005)
  • Confirmation of the receipt of documents for filing, beyond that given by the standard confirmation option of the filing party’s fax machine, is available on request for a fee of $4.50.
  • No documents submitted for filing with exhibits, declarations, or other attachments that require tabs, will be accepted via fax unless there are no more than ten attachments, and no attachment exceeds three pages in length.
  • Each attachment must be immediately preceded by a faxed insert “tab title page”, blank except for the title of the tab typewritten in the lower left hand corner of the page. The tab title must consist of no more than two single-spaced lines no larger than two inches in length.
Important
Pursuant to Local Rule 2.22, the court will not accept any document via fax filing in any location other than the clerk’s office of the court location where the document is required to be filed.
For the forms listed above, go to the California Courts website.
For a complete list of Los Angeles Superior Court fax telephone numbers, go to Countywide Fax Filing Telephone Numbers.
What Documents Are Needed To Begin A Case?

The initial filing of a civil case requires the forms listed in the table below. These are all standard Judicial Council forms except Civil Case Cover Sheet Addendum and Statement of Location (LACIV109), which is a Los Angeles Superior Court local form. The forms are available at the Clerk's Office or on-line. If there is no pre-printed form provided by either the Judicial Council or this Court, the pleading must comply with California Rules of Court starting with rule 2.100.
Form Name Form Number Publisher Description
Complaint – Contract PLD-C-001 Judicial Council of California Lists and describes:
  • Alleged offenses committed by the defendant
  • Effects of the offenses
  • Desired conditions for the offenses to be corrected
Case type determines which Complaint form is filed
Complaint –
Personal Injury,
Property Damage, Wrongful Death
PLD-PI-001 Judicial Council of California
Complaint – Unlawful Detainer UD-100 Judicial Council of California
Civil Case Cover Sheet CM-100 Judicial Council of California Identifies the type of civil case and primary cause of action
Civil Case Cover Sheet Addendum and Statement of Location LACIV109 Los Angeles Superior Court Used to confirm that a case is filed at the proper Courthouse

This is a Los Angeles Superior Court local form
CSummons SUM-001 Judicial Council of California Notifies a defendant that:
  • An action has been instituted against him/her
  • An appearance in response to the complaint must be made prior to a specified date
For a complete listing of the Judicial Council California Rules of Court, go to the California Courts website.
For the forms listed above and a complete list of Judicial Council forms, go to the California Courts website.
For the Los Angeles Superior Court local form listed above, go to the Civil Forms.
How Is The Defendant Notified Of The Case?

A defendant is notified of a case by the serving of the summons. There are three types of service for civil hearings: Personal Delivery, Substitute Service, and Publication. Any person who is at least 18 years of age and not a party to the action can perform Service. For a fee, the Sheriff’s Department and private registered process serving businesses will serve the summons, complaint and other court documents. For the action to proceed, a Proof of Service of the Summons must be filed with the Court.
For more information about the Sheriff’s Department Court Services Division, got to the Sheriff’s Department website.
What Can Happen If The Defendant Does Not File A Response?

If the defendant fails to respond within the time required after service of the complaint, the plaintiff can request the court to enter a default and issue a default judgment. The clerk can review and enter defaults and default judgments in simple cases, more complex cases require a Court default and default judgment.
What Are Common Responses To A Complaint?

The possible responses when a complaint is filed are:
Response Type Description
Demurrer A motion where the defendant asserts that a response is unnecessary due to a legal defect in the complaint
Motion to Strike This motion is similar to a demurrer but is used to request the Court to strike (void) an answer due to a defect within it
Motion to Quash A request for the Court to quash service of the summons and complaint. The motion is usually made because the litigant is not under the jurisdiction of the Court.
Answer A response from the defendant setting forth the grounds of the defense to the allegations contained within the complaint or the response from the plaintiff setting forth the grounds of the defense to the allegations contained within the cross-complaint.
General Denial A response from the defendant denying all allegations contained within the complaint or the response from the plaintiff denying all allegations within the cross-complaint

If a defendant files any motion or demurrer, the hearing date for that motion will be set prior to the trial process. Motions have a minimum 16 court days notice period to allow for the opposing side to prepare for the hearing.
If the Defendant files an Answer or a General Denial, the case must be set for trial.
Arbitration/Mediation is required for all cases except the following:
  • Trials with a time estimate of less than one day
  • Jury trials
  • Class action lawsuits
  • Actions that include a demand for equitable relief
  • Actions entered into mediation by the parties
What Can Happen If The Defendant Does Not Show Up For Trial?

The Court may grant a judgment for the plaintiff and/or impose sanctions upon the defendant.
What Happens If The Plaintiff Does Not Show Up For Trial Or Does Not Want To Pursue The Case?

The Court may make an order dismissing the case and/or imposing sanctions.
How Can The Judgment Creditor Collect On The Judgment Including Additional Costs Incurred After Judgment?

The following methods may be used by a judgment creditor to collect on a judgment:
Form Name Form Number Publisher Judgment Collection Method
Application and Order for Appearance and Examination AT-138,
EJ-125
Judicial Council of California A judgment creditor may request the court to assist in the enforcement of the judgment. The judgment debtor is required to appear in court to answer questions concerning his/her assets, to aid in the enforcement of the money judgment or to answer questions regarding property or debts.

To schedule a judgment debtor appearance, complete the header and bottom sections of the Application and Order for Appearance and Examination form and file in the Clerk’s Office with the filing fee. The clerk will complete the top portion of the Application and Order for Appearance, assign a hearing date and return the form to plaintiff to serve on the defendant.

If the judgment debtor does not show up for an ORAP hearing, an Arrest Warrant may be issued.
Writ of Execution (Money Judgment) EJ-130 Judicial Council of California A court order authorizing the sheriff or other officer of the law to carry out the Court’s decision to collect a money judgment.
Abstract of Judgment EJ-001 Judicial Council of California This is a summary of the Court’s decision or award. It is usually recorded with the County Recorder and acts as a lien on property owned by the judgment debtor. The Abstract consists of two sections. The judgment creditor completes the upper section. The Court completes the lower section. The Court provides the abstract but does not file papers with the County Recorder.
Department of Registrar-Recorder/ County Clerk
12400 Imperial Highway
Norwalk, CA 90650

Memorandum of Costs After Judgment MC-012 Judicial Council of California This is used to add costs incurred during the collection process such as fees for writs, abstracts, or Sheriff’s services may be added to an existing.
For the forms listed above and a complete list of Judicial Council form, go to California Courts forms website.
For more information about the Los Angeles County Registar-Recoorder/County Clerk, go to the County Recorder’s website.
What Needs To Be Done When The Judgment Debtor Makes Payment?

An Acknowledgement of Satisfaction of Judgment (EJ-100) form should be filed with the Court Clerk’s office after any type of payment is made. There are types of payments:
  • Partial Satisfaction of Judgment

    It is important for the Court files to be current when accounting for the payment of judgments since post judgment orders, such as writs of enforcement, are entered for outstanding balances. Upon payment of any portion of a judgment, a Partial Satisfaction of Judgment must be filed with the Court.

  • Full Satisfaction

    It is required by law that the creditor files a satisfaction form with the Court upon full payment of a judgment. If this form is not filed, liens cannot be removed from a debtor's property and credit-reporting agencies will continue to report outstanding judgment.
What Can Be Done If I Do Not Agree With The Judgment?

If you do not agree with the judgment, you may file the following:
Motion or Notice Type Description
Motion to Vacate Motion made by parties who have had default judgments entered against them. If granted the default judgment will be vacated and the matter will be reset for a trial.
Motion for a New Trial Motion made under certain circumstances. This process begins by filing a Notice of Intention to Move for New Trial with the clerk and serving the same on the adverse party within 15 days from the date of mailing of the notice of entry of judgment. The Notice of Intention to Move for New Trial must state the grounds upon which the motion will be made. Within 10 days of filing the Notice of Intention, the Motion for New Trial must be filed with the Court. The Court will then set a hearing date for your motion. This hearing date must be within 60 days from the date of entry of judgment.
Notice of Appeal An appeal is not a re-trial. New testimony and exhibits are not allowed. An appeal should not be made simply because a party thinks that they should have been believed or their opponent disbelieved. It is beyond the scope of the appellate court to re-decide a case by re-weighing the existing evidence.

Filing a Notice of Appeal does not stop the enforcement of a judgment. A plaintiff who has obtained a judgment may attempt to collect money or remove a tenant even though an appeal is filed.

The rules governing the appeals process are contained in the California Rules of Court beginning with rule 8.1. These rules should be read and followed exactly.
How Do I Appeal a Parking Citation?

Parking citations are processed by the issuing agency. If you believe that a parking citation was issued in error, you must contact the issuing agency to arrange for an administrative hearing to dispute or contest the citation. The issuing agency's contact information is located on the citation. The rules for this process are included in the California Vehicle Code sections 40200 through 40230.
The Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) hears appeals of decisions made at administrative hearings. If you have already had your administrative hearing and disagree with the decision made, you may complete and file Notice of Appeal - Parking (LACIV005) along with a copy of the Notice of Statement of Decision from the agency that issued the citation. You will need to pay filing fee for your Parking Appeal.
Instructions for Completing Notice of Appeal - Parking (CIV006) details how to fill out the form and complete the Parking Appeal process. Upon filing the Notice of Appeal - Parking (LACIV005), the Court will set a hearing date when you or your attorney will have the opportunity to explain what happened.
For the Los Angeles Superior Court local forms listed above, go to the Civil Forms.
For Parking Citation Appeals fee information, go to the Los Angeles Superior Court Fee Schedule.
How Do I Obtain a Court Ordered Clerk's Signature?

When the court orders the Clerk of the Court to execute documents on behalf of a party, the signing of those documents is performed in the Central District.
Please direct all documents for the Clerk’s signature to:

Family Law Administrators
111 North Hill Street, Room 426
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
For more information about court ordered clerk’s signatures, go to Procedures for Obtaining Clerk's Signature on Documents per Court Order.
Where Can I Get Help With An Eviction Case?

You can get help with an eviction case at the Eviction Assistance Center in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
For more information about help with an eviction case, go to the Eviction Assistance Center.
 
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