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Trial Court Unification

The Judges of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, announced the unification of the Trial Courts of Alameda County, effective July 31, 1998. Proposition 220, approved by the voters on June 2, 1998, amended the Constitution of the State of California by authorizing the Municipal and Superior Courts to unify as a single Superior Court if a majority of the Municipal Court Judges and a majority of the Superior Court judges within a county voted to do so.
Under the terms of Proposition 220, the vote to unify transferred Municipal Court functions to the Superior Court, eliminated the six former Municipal Court Districts in Alameda County, and consolidated case jurisdiction, judges and staff of the Municipal Courts with the Alameda County Superior Court. The unified Alameda County Superior Court is now comprised of 71 Superior Court Judges, 14 Court Commissioners and over 800 regular court employees, operating in 11 court facilities located in the cities of Alameda, Berkeley, Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton, and San Leandro.

The newly constituted Superior Court has jurisdiction in all trial court matters, including: criminal felonies and misdemeanors; general civil; small claims; juvenile dependency and delinquency; family law; probate; mental health; traffic; and appeals of limited civil (formerly municipal court civil cases, under $25,000) and criminal misdemeanor cases. Under unification, all judges within Alameda County may hear any of these case types. Proposition 220 creates an Appellate Division of the Superior Court, which replaces the previously existing Appellate Department, but retains the same jurisdictional authority.

The unification of the courts in Alameda County represents an extension of a three year effort to implement California Rule of Court (CRC) 991, which required a countywide plan for Judicial Coordination and Administrative Consolidation. Between 1995 and May of 1998, the Trial Courts in Alameda County worked to achieve the goals and objectives of CRC 991 by developing and implementing a countywide plan to coordinate court activities to the fullest extent permitted by law, including: (1) judicial governance through a single presiding judge, six supervising judges and the Alameda County Coordination Oversight Committee; (2) coordinating the assignment of cases to municipal and superior court judges; (3) the ongoing development of courtwide automation systems; (4) the establishment of unified local court rules; and (5) full administrative consolidation under a single executive officer with countywide administrative responsibilities. Unification further enhances the Superior Court's delivery of services to the public by maximizing its use of judicial resources, facilities and court staff, which provides greater flexibility in meeting the public's need for court services.

With trial court unification, the Court has embarked on an ongoing process of evaluating and analyzing how the court should be organized, and how and where the court services should exist in order to provide both the most efficiency while providing maximum access to the courts. As the court provides services in 11 different facilities in communities throughout Alameda County, this reorganization process continues to be a deliberate one with careful consideration given to countywide coordination of all court services in order to meet the goals and objectives of Proposition 220, Trial Court Unification.
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