|Have you ever struggled to identify what rules and procedures apply in a
particular court? Ever been frustrated by varying local court requirements for procedures
or practices that you think ought to be uniform across the state? Ever found yourself
thinking, "There ought to be a rule?"
You probably already know that the
Judicial Council is responsible for adopting statewide rules of court administration,
practice and procedure, as well as forms for use in court proceedings. But you may not
realize that you can play a role in this work by:
Making proposals for changes in council rules and forms;
Commenting on published proposals;
Serving on council advisory committees.
Those of you practicing in our courts know what is working and what is not, and how the
rules and forms could be improved. We welcome your ideas.
Any member of the public can propose a new or amended rule or form. The council
recently adopted rule 6.20, which explains the council's process for considering proposals
to amend or adopt rules and forms. Each proposal is sent to the appropriate advisory
committee, which evaluates it. If the committee agrees that a new or amended rule or form
is needed, the proposal or a modified version of it is circulated for public comment by
the council's rules and projects committee.
After the advisory committee reviews and analyzes the comments, it may present the
proposal to the council for decision. From beginning to end, the process of amending or
adopting a rule or form takes about nine months.
We also welcome your comments on proposed new or amended rules or forms that are being
circulated for public comment. Twice a year, usually in the winter and summer, the
council's rules and projects committee sends copies of proposals to the courts and other
interested organizations for their comment. Any interested organization can obtain copies
of these proposals or be included on our mailing list by contacting Stephanie Leonard at
the Administrative Office of the Courts, 455 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco 94102-3660;
fax 415/865-4317. In addition, the proposals are posted on the California courts web site
(www.courtinfo.ca.gov) under "Invitations for Comment." All of the comments that
are received are carefully considered by the appropriate advisory committee.
Not only can you submit or comment on suggested rule or form changes, but you can also
serve on the Judicial Council advisory committees that initiate or review proposed changes
in rules and forms and make recommendations to the council. The committees most often
involved in rule and form changes include:
appellate advisory committee
civil and small claims advisory committee
criminal law advisory committee
family and juvenile law advisory committee; and
probate and mental health task force.
These advisory committees are composed of judges, court administrators, attorneys and
others with experience and expertise in the relevant subject matter.
Nominations for these committee are sought from mid-April through the end of June and
the chief justice makes appointments for three-year terms beginning Nov. 1 of each year.
Additional information and nomination forms can be obtained on the council's web site
or by contacting the Administrative Office of the Courts, Secretariat and Conference
So the next time you are tempted to grumble about those #!@! statewide or local rules
of court, please remember you can make a difference and take advantage of these
opportunities to participate in the rule-making process.
Michael Bergeisen is general counsel of the
Judicial Council of California.