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Police courts always have jurisdiction over all misdemeanors arising within city limits, except those that must be tried by the superior court; and over all petty civil suits growing out of city charters and ordinances.
Police courts have no jurisdiction outside of cities, but township courts have jurisdiction inside of cities as follows:
a. Always over petty civil suits involving less than $300), growing out of the state law. They have this jurisdiction concurrently with the police courts; except in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and a few other cities whose police courts have no jurisdiction over such cases."
b. Over such misdemeanors growing out of the state law as are triable in inferior courts, except in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland, whose police courts have exclusive jurisdiction over such cases. The jurisdiction except in the three cities mentioned is concurrent with that of police courts.
1 The charters of Long Beach, Pasadena, Watsonville, Santa Barbara, Eureka, and Sacramento give the police courts in these cities no jurisdiction over petty civil suits growing out of the state law. Such cases arising in these cities are therefore tried in the township courts. See Graham vs. Fresno, 151 Cal. 465; also Kahn vs. Sutro, 114 Cal. 316. In San Francisco the police court has no civil, and the justices' court, no criminal jurisdiction. In Los Angeles and Oakland the police courts are presided over by city justices of the peace. The police courts in these two cities have no civil jurisdiction over cases growing out of the state law, but the justices who preside over them may, as justices of the peace (not as police judges) exercise jurisdiction in such cases. These justices may thus act in two capacities. See People vs. Cobb, 133 Cal. 74.
Other supreme court decisions that assist in understanding the relations between police and justices' courts are:
Ex Parte Sato, 88 Cal. 624; Roberts vs. Police Court, 148 Cal. 131; Ex Parte Dolan, 128 Cal. 460; Green vs. Superior Court, 78 Cal. 556; also In Re Johnson Decisions of the District Courts of Appeal, Vol. 6, p. 734. In the case of Ex Parte Dolan the supreme court decided that a city charter cannot confer upon the police court exclusive jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases. This may be done, however, by state law, as in the case of Los Angeles and Oakland. The law creating the justices' court in San Francisco confers upon it only civil jurisdiction (see Statutes of 1872, page 84), while the charter confers criminal jurisdiction on the police couri.
All justices of the peace, recorders, and police judges, except the justices of the peace in San Francisco, have the powers, and are required to perform the duties, of magistrates.
205. The Superior Courts. — There is a superior court in each county, presided over by at least one judge. If additional judges are needed in any county, the legislature provides for them by special act. Each judge is elected by his county, at large, for six years. If a county has more than one judge, they are not all, or both, elected at the same time. Vacancies are filled by the governor. Salaries of superior judges are determined for the respective counties by the legislature, and are paid half by the county and half by the state.
The supervisors of every county must provide a courtroom for each superior judge of the county, so that as many sessions of the court may be held at the same time as there are judges. As the judges are state officers, a judge from any county may hold court in any other county" at the request of a judge of the superior court thereof, and upon the request of the governor, it shall be his duty to do so." Provision is also made for referring cases to judges pro
1 See sections 6, 7, 8, article VI of the constitution.
2 Los Angeles county has eighteen superior judges; San Francisco, sixteen; Alameda county, six; San Diego County, four; Santa Clara, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Kern counties, three each ; Sonoma, Fresno, San Bernardino, Tulare, Humboldt, Shasta, Contra Costa, and Orange counties, two each; and the remaining counties of the state, one each.
3 The sheriff, or a deputy appointed by him, called a bailiff, must be present at every session of the court to preserve order, and to have charge of the jury during a jury trial. The sheriff must also, when directed to do so, serve writs and summonses issued by the court. The county clerk, or a deputy appointed by him, must act as clerk of each session of the court. The court appoints a court reporter for each judge to take reports in shorthand of proceedings before the court as directed by the judge.
tempore. A county is said to have only one superior court no matter how many judges it may have, and the decision of any judge is regarded as a decision of the court. San Francisco county and Los Angeles county have each a presiding judge who apportions the work of the court among the various judges.2 In other counties having more than one judge, this is done by agreement among themselves.
The jurisdiction of the superior court is both original and appellate. It is our great court of original jurisdiction. All equity cases; all cases at law involving as much as $300 in money or property equal to that amount; all cases at law involving the title or possession of real property, irrespective of its value, or the legality of any tax, or municipal fine, irrespective of the amount; all probate cases, divorce cases, and certain other civil cases mentioned in the constitution; "and all such special cases and proceedings as are not otherwise provided for,'
" 4 must originate in the superior court.5
“ Said courts and their judges shall have power to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.” These are regarded as public writs; that is, the matters with which they deal, “ though they may be owned and controlled by private persons, are of such public interest that the people have a right to demand the proper use and management of them. . . . case they proceed in the name of the people. In other words, they are civil suits by the people to protect matters of public interest.” 1
1 Any person, not a judge, selected to try a case, with as much power to decide it as a regularly elected superior judge, would be a judge pro tempore. He would be very different from a referee, as the latter is selected to investigate some fact concerning which the court wants information, and to report to the court. Judges pro tempore are almost unknown in actual practice.
2 In San Francisco, the presiding judge is, according to the constitution, chosen by the remaining judges. In Los Angeles county, the judges, by agreement among themselves, serve as presiding judge in rotation.
3 A court has original jurisdiction over all cases that it may try first; and appellate jurisdiction over cases that may be appealed to it after being tried in a lower court. A court of original jurisdiction is often referred to as a court of first instance.
4 Section 5, article VI of the constitution.
6 The two kinds of civil cases that may originate in either the superior or an inferior court are mentioned in section 11, article VI of the constitution.
to any inferior
A writ of mandamus, or mandate, is an order tribunal, corporation, board, or person, to compel the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station.” 2 “It is the only process to compel the payment of money by a public corporation." 3
A writ of certiorari, or a writ of review, is an order to a lower court, or to any board or officer exercising judicial functions, directing that the records in some particular case be certified to the court issuing the writ, in order that it may determine whether the lower court, board, or officer has exceeded its or his authority in the proceedings in question. The court issuing the writ, after examining the record, and hearing the arguments of the interested parties, must either affirm, annul, or modify the proceedings.
A writ of prohibition is an order directing some lower court, board, officer, or corporation to stop proceedings in some particular matter. The court issuing the writ does so only when it is convinced that the lower court, board, officer, or corporation is exercising authority not granted by law. The writ differs from an injunction in that its aim is to prevent an agency of the government from exceeding its legal authority; while an injunction is to protect private rights. A writ of prohibition against a corporation is to prevent it from exceeding its authorized powers; while a writ of injunction against it is to prevent it from infringing upon the private rights of individuals or of other corporations.
Quo warranto is a proceeding “against any person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises any public office, civil
1 Andrews's American Law, page 1093. 2 Code of Civil Procedure, $ 1085. 8 Andrews's American Law, page 1094.
or military, or any franchise within this state." Formerly the proceeding was started by a writ directing the person or persons in question to appear before the court and explain by what authority such and such powers were being exercised; but now the first step is the filing of an information in court by the attorney-general. “It is a great remedy by which corporations are kept from usurping power, and individuals restrained from assuming corporate or official powers.'
A writ of habeas corpus is an order directing the sheriff or any other person, having another in custody, to bring the prisoner before the court in order that the court may determine whether or not he is legally detained. The proceeding is not a criminal trial; it is simply to test the legality of the imprisonment. It is most commonly resorted to by persons who have been charged with felony and committed by a magistrate, and are held awaiting trial in a superior court. When the prisoner appears before the court, witnesses may be examined, and the case is gone into sufficiently to enable the judge to determine whether the detention is lawful. The action of the court may be to order the prisoner's release, to admit him to bail, or to order him detained until his case can be regularly tried.
The criminal jurisdiction of the superior court includes all felony cases and misdemeanors not otherwise provided for. This includes all the so-called "high" misdemeanors, except those committed in Los Angeles and Oakland.
The superior court acts as the agent of the United States government in naturalizing aliens. In performing this duty, it is controlled entirely by federal law.
The appellate jurisdiction of the superior court includes all cases, civil and criminal, that may be tried in township and police courts.
1 Code of Civil Procedure, $ 803.
Andrews's American Law, page 1094. Proceedings for the annulment of the Virginia charter in 1624 were begun by the issuing of a writ of quo warranto against the company by the court of King's Bench on the complaint of the attorney-general for the crown.