Fresno County Superior Court – M Street Courthouse
Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse
History and Background of the Courthouse
The Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse has served as an important center of law and justice in Fresno since its opening in 1966. As the main courthouse for Fresno County, it handles a high volume of criminal, civil, family law, and traffic cases each year.
Layout and Features of the Courthouse
As Fresno County’s high-volume main courthouse, the M Street facility is designed to efficiently handle the thousands of cases and court visitors it receives. Key features include multiple courtrooms, clerk’s offices, and security measures.
Courtrooms and Hearing Rooms
The M Street Courthouse contains over 70 courtrooms and hearing rooms to accommodate its caseload. There are multiple courtrooms for criminal, civil, family, and traffic proceedings, as well as small hearing rooms for conferences and settlement meetings. Each courtroom contains counsel tables, jury boxes, judge’s benches, witness stands, and gallery seating. Courtrooms vary in size and capacity depending on the type of case.
Clerk’s Office and Records
The courthouse has an extensive clerk’s office where legal documents can be filed and records can be accessed. The clerk assists attorneys, self-represented litigants, and other court visitors in filing new cases and documents. Court records, including dockets, motions, previous filings, and exhibits can also be reviewed in the clerk’s office. Related county offices such as the Recorder and Elections are located on-site.
Security and Accessibility
With so many high-profile cases, security is a priority at the courthouse. Visitors must pass through metal detectors when entering and law enforcement officers are present throughout the building. Separate corridors and entrances are used to bring in-custody defendants to courtrooms securely. ADA accommodations such as wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, and elevators make the courthouse accessible.
Types of Cases Heard at Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse
The Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse is responsible for handling the four main types of state court cases – criminal, civil, family, and traffic. The courthouse adjudicates thousands of cases across these legal categories annually.
Criminal cases make up a significant portion of the courthouse’s caseload. Felony matters like murder, robbery, assault, and drug offenses and misdemeanor charges like DUIs, theft, and vandalism are heard here. Criminal cases proceed through arraignments, pretrial hearings, motions, and jury trials before reaching verdicts.
The M Street Courthouse handles a broad range of civil cases including personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits, contract disputes, professional liability, dangerous condition claims against public entities, and more. Civil cases often involve discovery, depositions, settlement conferences, and jury trials.
Family Law Cases
Family and domestic cases such as divorces, child custody matters, spousal and child support issues, and restraining orders are managed at the courthouse. The Family Law Facilitator’s Office provides guidance on family law proceedings for self-represented litigants. Child support payments are also collected on-site.
Traffic infractions such as speeding tickets, DUI misdemeanors, reckless driving charges, license suspensions, and vehicle code violations are adjudicated at the courthouse. The traffic department allows defendants to appear for arraignments, present evidence, and contest citations.
Prominent Trials and Proceedings
With Fresno County’s central location in California and diverse population, the M Street Courthouse has been home to many high-profile cases that garnered significant public interest and media coverage.
High-Profile Criminal Trials
Several notable murder trials have occurred at the courthouse, including those of serial killer Marcus Wesson, murderer Mark Allen Shrader, and accused police killer Sergio Chavez. Other prominent criminal cases included the Mongolian Boys Society gang trial and illegal gambling rings.
Significant Civil Lawsuits
Major civil lawsuits adjudicated at the courthouse include a case against the city of Fresno over a defective highway median, a malpractice case against a prominent neurosurgeon, and a labor dispute involving area agriculture companies.
Landmark Family Law Cases
The courthouse has handled family law cases that set precedents related to same-sex marriage and adoption rights, surrogate parentage, and assisted reproductive technology issues. Cases have shaped family law in Fresno and statewide.
Impact and Significance of the Courthouse
For over 50 years, the M Street Courthouse has profoundly influenced Fresno County through its role in achieving justice, its civic architecture, and its advancement of the rule of law.
Role in the Fresno Community
Residents interact with the courthouse during jury duty, attending hearings, and accessing records. The courthouse and its cases directly impact people’s lives. Its decisions shape Fresno’s society, employment policies, government, schools, and businesses.
Historical Value and Architecture
The courthouse holds architectural significance as an exemplary civic structure designed in the New Formalism style. Historically, its high-profile cases represent important eras and events in Fresno’s past. The building will continue to hold heritage value for decades to come.
Advancing Justice and Rule of Law
Most importantly, the courthouse advances justice, democracy, and the rule of law. Its rulings uphold civil rights, settle disputes peacefully, and promote orderly, lawful society. Equal access to transparent court proceedings reinforces core American values.
Fresno County Superior Court – M Street Courthouse Online Court Resources
The Fresno County Superior Court – M Street Courthouse provides a variety of online resources for accessing court records, conducting legal research, and obtaining legal assistance. This article provides an overview of key online court resources available through the Fresno County Superior Court website and other state and local government agencies.
Online Court Resources in Fresno County
Searching Court Records
The Fresno County Superior Court website allows online searches of court cases, calendars, tentative rulings, and other records. The main online court records available include:
Fresno County Superior Court Cases
Search pending and historical civil, criminal, family, and probate cases in Fresno County. Lookup case number, party names, attorneys, case type, and other details.
Fresno County Superior Court Calendar
View calendars for the current week, including the B.F. Sisk daily hearing docket. Check for case hearings by date or department.
Fresno County Superior Court Tentative Rulings
Access tentative rulings posted by the Civil Law and Motion Judge. Rulings can be searched by date.
Court Dockets and Calendars of Fresno County Superior Court – M Street Courthouse
In addition to the main court calendar, there are specialized dockets and calendars such as:
Juvenile Court Calendar
View pending juvenile case hearings and trials on the daily calendar.
Traffic Court Calendar
Look up traffic citation hearing dates online. Defendants can also pay fines and enroll in traffic school.
Small Claims Court Calendar
Small claims hearings are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The daily calendar lists case names and hearing times.
Court Opinions and Orders
Published court opinions and orders can be accessed through:
California Attorney General Opinions
Search legal opinions issued by the Attorney General from 1985 to present. Covers wide range of state law issues.
The Administrative Office of the Courts hosts opinions from Appellate Courts. Opinions can be searched by date, case name, appellate district, etc.
Fresno County Superior Court Forms
Fillable and downloadable PDF court forms are available, including:
Fresno County Local Forms
Forms specific to Fresno County Superior Court, such as fee waiver applications, subpoenas, and civil cover sheets.
California Judicial Council Forms
Statewide forms approved for use in all Superior Courts, searchable by form category and number.
TurboCourt Interactive Forms
TurboCourt generates court forms through an online interview process. Covers family law, guardianship, small claims, and other case types.
Online Fine Payments
Defendants can pay qualifying fines and fees online via:
Fresno Superior Court Traffic Fines
Pay traffic citations, traffic school fees, and related fines online.
City of Fresno Parking Tickets
Parking fines owed to the City of Fresno can be paid online. A service fee applies.
Legal Research Resources
The Fresno Court website offers extensive resources for legal research and self-help information. Key online research tools include:
Self-Help and General Information
Fresno County Law Library
View law library location, hours, collections, and request assistance from a law librarian.
Self-Help Guides by Case Type
Step-by-step overview of legal process and forms for various civil and criminal case types.
Small Claims Information
Details on filing and responding to small claims cases, preparing for trial, collecting judgments, and more.
Traffic Case Information
Covers fighting traffic tickets, DMV points, obtaining records, and traffic school options.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Overview of ADR programs for mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation, and settlement conferences.
Rules of Fresno County Superior Court
Fresno County Local Rules
Local rules governing civil, criminal, juvenile, family, and probate case procedures in Fresno Superior Court.
California Rules of Court
Statewide rules promulgated by the Judicial Council for practice in all Superior Courts.
Statutes and Regulations
Search the full text of the California Codes by title, section, and keywords. Updated with new laws.
Lookup regulations from the California Code of Regulations by title and section.
California Bills and Laws
Review newly enacted laws not yet codified in the codes. Can search pending bills by number, keywords, author, etc.
Online Libraries and Legal Research
Fresno County Public Law Library
Search library catalog for legal books and periodicals. Request assistance from a law librarian.
California Law Libraries
Directory of public law libraries throughout California, with details on collections and services.
LawHelp and Legal Aid Websites
Listings of legal aid organizations, self-help centers, lawyer referral services, and pro bono assistance.
Legal Assistance Resources
People seeking affordable legal help can utilize the following resources:
Legal Aid and Referrals
Fresno County Public Defender
The Public Defender represents indigent criminal defendants. Eligibility is based on income.
Central California Legal Services
Provides free civil legal services to low-income residents in several central valley counties.
California Rural Legal Assistance
Assists agricultural workers and rural low-income residents with civil legal issues.
Lawyer Referral Services
Local bar associations connect clients to lawyers in relevant practice areas. Fees vary but initial consultations are low-cost or free.
Lawyer Search and Discipline
State Bar Attorney Search
Lookup State Bar members to confirm status, admission date, discipline history, and other details.
State Bar Complaint Procedures
Instructions for filing complaints against attorneys for misconduct and resolving fee disputes outside of court.
Court Interpreter Search
Lookup certified and registered court interpreters for over 100 languages statewide.
Limited Scope Representation
Attorneys can provide limited services on discrete legal tasks, such as document preparation, without taking on full representation. This allows self-represented parties to get affordable legal help on parts of their case.
Detailed Directory of Fresno County Courts
Navigating the legal maze can be perplexing. However, knowledge is power! Here’s your guide to the Fresno County courts:
B.F. Sisk Courthouse
Address & Contact: 1130 O Street, Fresno, CA 93721 Phone: 559-457-2000
This courthouse is a central hub, named after a prominent figure in Fresno’s history. It’s almost like the heart of Fresno’s judicial system. Picturing it yet?
Criminal Courts Departments 95 & 96
Address & Contact: 1265 M Street, Fresno, CA 93721 Phone: 559-457-2000
Think of this as the epicenter of criminal cases. These departments are dedicated to ensuring that justice is served, ensuring a fair trial for all.
Downtown Fresno Superior Court
Address & Contact: 1100 Van Ness Avenue, Fresno, CA 93724 Phone: 559-457-2000
Located in the bustling center of the city, this court is to Fresno what Broadway is to New York. An essential spot, pulsating with activity.
Juvenile Delinquency Facility
Address & Contact: Juvenile Delinquency Facility 3333 East American Avenue, Suite A, Fresno, CA 93725 Phone: 559-457-4810
Picture a place where young minds, unfortunately having made missteps, are given a chance to right their wrongs. This facility aims to do just that.
M Street Courthouse
Address & Contact: 2317 Tuolumne Street, Fresno, CA 93721 Phone: 559-457-1700
Another crucial cog in the Fresno judicial machinery, the M Street Courthouse is a testament to the region’s commitment to upholding justice.
For over a half century, the Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse has served as an indispensable center of justice. Its monumental civic architecture, vast caseload, and far-reaching decisions have left an indelible mark on Fresno County. This courthouse will continue influencing the region through its advancement of the law and role at the heart of the community.
How many courtrooms are in the building?
There are over 70 courtrooms and hearing rooms in the 10-story courthouse building to accommodate the heavy caseload.
What kinds of security are present?
Security measures include metal detectors at entrances, separate corridors and elevators to transport in-custody defendants, and a law enforcement presence throughout the courthouse.
How can I access court records or file documents?
Records and filings are handled through the clerk’s office. You can visit in person to search records or file new documents and cases with the assistance of the courthouse clerk.
Can I represent myself in court for a criminal infraction?
Yes, you have the right to represent yourself in court, but it’s advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure you fully understand the legal implications of your case.
How can I pay my traffic fine if I’m found guilty?
You can typically pay your traffic fines online, by mail, or in person at the courthouse. Check the official Fresno County Superior Court website for detailed instructions.
What should I wear to court?
It’s best to dress in business-casual attire when appearing in court. Avoid wearing overly casual or revealing clothing.
Can I reschedule a court date if I can’t make it?
In some cases, you may be able to request a rescheduled court date. Contact the court clerk or check their website for information on the rescheduling process.
How can I access more information about the M Street Courthouse and its services?
For additional information about the Fresno County Superior Court M Street Courthouse, visit their official website or contact their administrative office.
Can I access my case files online?
Yes, Fresno Superior Court provides online case search to lookup docket entries, documents, party information, future hearing dates, and other details. Remote access may be limited for certain confidential cases.
Where can I find forms to file a divorce in Fresno County?
The court website has downloadable fillable forms such as the Petition and Summons. TurboCourt and other judicial branch sites also offer interactive interviews to complete forms.
Is there an online calendar for Juvenile Court cases?
Yes, the Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency calendars are available online and list hearing dates, times, case names, and judicial officer.
Can I take traffic school online to dismiss a ticket?
Yes, Fresno Court allows eligible traffic citations to be dismissed upon completion of an approved online traffic school. Defendants can pay fines and traffic school fees online.
How can I get free legal assistance with a civil matter?
Central California Legal Services provides free civil legal help to qualifying low-income residents. Their website lists practice areas and how to apply for services.