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Sonoma County Justice Court records, 1904-1976
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Court History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Access Terms
  • Important Information for Users of the Collection
  • Arrangement of Materials:

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Sonoma County Justice Court records,
    Date (inclusive): 1904-1976
    Identification: SCG.00058
    Creator: California. Justice Court (Sonoma County)
    Physical Description: 6 volumes
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Sonoma County Library Archives
    Sonoma County Library
    6135 State Farm Drive
    Rohnert Park, CA 94928
    Abstract: This collection contains crminal and civil justice dockets of the Sonoma County Justice Court, including records of other justice courts under the County Court's jurisdiction

    Court History

    Biography/Organization History

    Prior to June 1998, California's trial courts consisted of Superior and Municipal courts, each with its own jurisdiction and with its number of judges fixed by the Legislature; prior to 1934, the Sonoma County Justice Court was one of fifteen such inferior courts in the County. The Justice Court (also known as the County Justice's Court; more formally designated as the State of California's Justice Court for Sonoma County), had jurisdiction over several smaller courts in the County, including Sonoma , Vallejo, Petaluma and Mendocino townships.
    The County court, like other justice courts, was an inferior local tribunal for the adjudication of minor causes and the preservation of the peace. By the Act of March 16, 1850, which divided up the state into judicial districts, "the term of office of a justice of the peace was fixed at one year. Two justices were allowed to each township, also two constables, the officers who serve the processes of the court. The jurisdiction of a justice extended to the limits of the township for which he was elected. He had cognizance of actions on contract, for damages, and to recover specific property, when the amount or value did not exceed $200. In 1851, his powers were considerably increased. He had jurisdiction of actions to recover money, for damages to personal property, for fines, penalties and forfeitures, actions on bonds, enforcement of lien on personal property, actions to recover personal property and judgment by confession, where the amount in all these cases did not exceed $8,500, and on a bond taken by him if the amount did exceed that sum, cases of forcible entry and detainer, and the trial of the right of mining claims. The criminal jurisdiction embraced vagrancy, disorder, petty larceny, assault and battery, breaches of the peace, and all misdemeanors punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and not more than one year's imprisonment. In 1863, forcible entry and detainer cases were transferred to the county court, and the civil jurisdiction was reduced to amounts not exceeding $300. In 1870, the jurisdiction of cases of misdemeanor was extended to fines of $1,000 and imprisonment for one year: but in 1874 it was reduced to fines of $500 and six months' imprisonment. In 1863, the term of office of justices and constables was increased to two years. The new constitution preserved the justice courts as before." (source: Wells, Harry Laurenz, 1854-1940. History of Butte County. San Francisco : H. L. Wells, 1882.)
    The County Justice Court was active until 1976. A number of reorganizations and consolidations of the County's court system took place over the next two decades until the various inferior courts were absorbed into the Superior Court following the voter-authorized reorganization in 1998, California Proposition 220.

    Scope and Contents

    Official records of the County Justice Court

    Arrangement of the collection

    Organized into three series:
    1. Civil justice docket, 1904-1976
    2. Criminal justice docket, 1922-1965
    3. Speed record, 1935
    Arranged chronologically within each series.

    Access Terms

    This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Topical Terms

    Civil procedure--California--Sonoma County
    Criminal justice, Administration of--California--Sonoma County

    Genre and Format Terms

    Civil court records
    Criminal court records
    Registers (lists)
    Judicial records
    County government records
    Archival materials

    Important Information for Users of the Collection

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Materials stored offsite, but collection is open to research. In many cases, further details on individual volumes can be found by calling staff at the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library. To view these materials, please call staff at 707 308-3212 to request they be brought from the Archives to the Library

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the Sonoma County Library. The Sonoma County Library has made this collection available and believes that the collection is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Collection may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Preferred credit line is: Courtesy, the Sonoma County Library. Please see additional reproduction and reuse information at https://sonomalibrary.org/locations/sonoma-county-history-and-genealogy-library/order-photo

    Preferred Citation:

    Sonoma County Justice Court records, 1904-1976. SCG.00058, Sonoma County Archives, Sonoma County Library, Rohnert Park, California.

    Arrangement of Materials: