January 2010 • Vol. 30 No. 1 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

How are Changes to Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules Adopted?

To keep you better informed about developments at the Los Angeles Superior Court, LACBA maintains an archive of proposed and adopted changes to the superior court’s local rules. In addition, when rules have recently been proposed or spotlighted, they are noted in the News section on LACBA’s home page.

LACBA provides this service so that you can more easily participate in the rule-making process. In California Rules of Court, Rule 10.613, you can find the details about how changes to the Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules are adopted. These are the Administration of Court-mandated guidelines, which all California county superior courts must follow. The process consists of four steps:

  • The Los Angeles Superior Court’s Rules Committee receives proposed changes to the court’s local rules periodically from various sources—mostly from judges, other legal professionals inside and outside the court, as well as court management. Changes also can be proposed in response to AOC-mandated rule requirements and changes occurring in case law.
  • After approval by the Rules Committee, the proposed changes are presented to the court’s Executive Committee. They can be approved by the committee with or without further changes. If approved, the amended or new rules must next go out for the AOC-mandated 45-day comment period. The amended or new rules are distributed to bar associations, executive officers of other county superior courts, district attorneys, public defenders, and others within a radius of 100 miles of the Los Angeles Superior Court, and to the publishers of material as a notice to attorneys. The Los Angeles Superior Court will also place the amended or new rules on its Web site for all sitting judges of the court, legal professionals, and the general public to review. All are invited to reply to the court within the 45-day comment period in response to the proposed changes or new rules.
  • After the 45-day comment period, the comments, if any are received, are reviewed by the Rules Committee at its next scheduled meeting. If comments are deemed substantive and useful, the Rules Committee may choose 1) to include the changes recommended in the comment, 2) to elect to table the proposed rule changes for further committee review, or, making no changes, 3) to proceed with making the rules effective in a timely manner.
  • The amended or new rules must next go out for signature. A simple majority of sitting judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court must approve the amended or new rules. Once enough signatures are obtained, the rules are filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court and submitted to the AOC in San Francisco 45 days prior to the date when they are expected to become effective. The AOC permits adoption of proposed changes to local court rules only twice per year on specified dates: January 1 and July 1. For the amended or new rules to be timely filed with the AOC, they must be received in San Francisco by mid-November or mid-May.

That is the process in a nutshell. There is one exception. To expedite the adoption of a rule change after the 45-day comment period, only the presiding judge from the county superior court can request an amended or new rule sooner than the permitted effective dates. The presiding judge submits a letter of request to the California Supreme Court Chief Justice explaining the necessity for an earlier effective date. If the chief justice approves the alternate effective date, the amended or new rule is adopted and made effective on that alternate date.

Why are we interested? As an attorney, you can benefit when you understand and foresee the changes in local court rules even before the rules become effective. To know how to model your case procedure according to the new court rules that will become effective by the time your case goes to court, go to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Web site and click on Court Rules inside the dark blue horizontal band at the bottom of the main page. (See screen shot below.)

The Court Rules link will take you to a pop-up screen. (See screen shot below.)

The proposed rule revisions listed in the screen link to proposed changes of the court’s local rules. These documents serve as guidelines for changes you can expect for the coming date of approval from the AOC, typically either on January 1 or July 1 of every year.

What are your thoughts? What would you like to see on LACBA.org? Send feedback to webmaster@lacba.org or call Mark Biskeborn at 213-896-6401.

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