Stanislaus County Superior Court – Modesto Central
The Stanislaus County Superior Court operates a number of courthouses throughout the county, including the main Modesto Central courthouse located in downtown Modesto. This courthouse handles the bulk of the county’s civil, criminal, family, probate, and traffic cases. Understanding the operations, services, conduct requirements and logistics of attending court at Modesto Central can help ensure an informed and smooth process.
Location And Contact Info Stanislaus County Superior Court – Modesto Central
Address: 800 11th Street Modesto, CA 95354
Mailing Address: PO Box 1098 Modesto, CA 95353
Phone: (209) 530-3100
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: 8:15 am – 4:00 pm
Overview of Stanislaus County Superior Court system
The Superior Court system in Stanislaus County is part of the California state court system. It has jurisdiction over all criminal cases amounting to misdemeanors or felonies, civil lawsuits above $25,000, family law such as divorce and child custody, probate matters such as wills and estates, and traffic infractions. There are courthouse branches located in Modesto, Turlock, Ceres and Patterson, but Modesto Central handles the majority of cases. Presiding over the court are judges elected by Stanislaus County residents or appointed by the governor.
Modesto Central courthouse history and details
The Modesto Central courthouse building is located at 1100 I Street in downtown Modesto. It was constructed in the 1960s and opened in 1969. The building has over 24 courtrooms spread across four floors. On a daily basis, hundreds of people pass through its doors to attend hearings, meet with lawyers, or conduct business with court administration. The courthouse underwent renovations in the 1990s and 2000s to improve accessibility and update facilities. Various county agencies also have offices in the courthouse building, including the district attorney’s office and probation department.
Courthouse Operations and Services
The Modesto Central courthouse provides a range of services to assist people engaged in court cases and processes. Understanding these operations can simplify navigating the courthouse.
Court dockets and case types
Modesto Central courthouse handles a high volume and variety of cases each week. Court dockets are posted daily outside each courtroom showing scheduled cases, generally starting at 8:30 AM on weekdays. The court hears matters on civil lawsuits, criminal preliminary hearings and trials, family law, probate issues, small claims, and traffic tickets. Individual court calendars help direct people to the correct department.
The courthouse has a self-help center on the first floor to assist people representing themselves without an attorney. Services include guidance on forms preparation, procedures, and free classes for processes like divorce. Appointments can be made by calling the center. Helpful handouts are also available explaining how to respond to lawsuits, file motions, and more.
Jurors for trials at Modesto Central courthouse are summoned from registered voter rolls in Stanislaus County. The courthouse has a jury assembly room and chapel. Potential jurors may be called for different cases over a period of a few days or weeks until excused or selected for a trial. Meals and validation for parking costs are provided. Hardships related to work, school, or dependent care can be discussed with the jury commissioner.
Legal documents for many cases heard at Modesto Central courthouse can be obtained through the records and exhibits department. Fees apply for photocopies and certified copies. The court has switched many records to electronic form, but some older case files remain in print archives. Court reporters also have transcripts available from proceedings.
Going to Court at Modesto Central
Attending court, whether as a plaintiff, defendant, witness or observer, goes most smoothly with some preparation regarding location, conduct, and payments.
Location and parking information
The Modesto Central courthouse is located just south of downtown Modesto. Paid parking is available in a structure attached to the courthouse, entered from 11th and I Street. Metered street parking is also an option. The courthouse is accessible via Stanislaus Regional Transit bus lines. Upon entry, court security is stationed at a checkpoint. Food and drink other than water is prohibited.
Courtroom conduct and security
Inside each courtroom, professional conduct is mandatory. Things like chewing gum, reading newspapers, wearing hats, and using cameras or phones are not permitted. Speaking out of turn or disrupting proceedings can result in contempt of court charges. The courtroom bailiff provides security and enforces policies. Weapons and contraband items must be surrendered to security before entering.
Fines, fees, bonds, and other financial transactions related to court cases are handled in the accounting office. The courthouse accepts payments by cash, check, credit/debit card, money order, or online. Traffic infraction fines can often be paid online without attending court. Defendants found by the court to owe victim restitution must make payments to the accounting office.
Working with a Lawyer
Navigating the legal system is complex, so consulting with qualified attorneys regarding cases in Modesto courthouse can be advisable.
Finding legal representation
The Modesto/Stanislaus County Bar Association offers lawyer referral services to connect with attorneys in fields like business, criminal, and real estate law. Checking directories like Yellow Pages, websites, or State Bar listings can also aid in finding lawyers. If charged with a crime, the court may appoint a public defender. Vetting a prospective lawyer thoroughly is recommended before hiring.
Qualifying for legal aid
People falling below certain income levels may qualify for free or reduced-cost legal aid through organizations like Central California Legal Services or the Family Justice Center. These groups assist with issues like domestic violence, housing, and immigration. Applications involve submitting financial documentation to verify eligibility for their services.
Stanislaus County Superior Court’s Modesto Central courthouse handles the bulk of local cases, ranging from minor traffic infractions to major civil lawsuits and violent criminal matters. Navigating security protocols, availability of self-help resources, specific department case types, and options for legal representation aids in effectively accessing justice through this judicial hub serving the diverse Modesto community. With preparation and respectful conduct, citizens can feel empowered when attending proceedings at the courthouse.
- Modesto Central courthouse is the main hub for Stanislaus County Superior Court system
- Self-help resources are available to assist without an attorney
- Following security and conduct rules helps court run smoothly
- Finding affordable legal representation, if needed, can better one’s case
- Advance knowledge of the courthouse layout, operations and logistics eases the process
Q: What are the courthouse’s hours?
A: Standard hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, except on court holidays. Some proceedings may run beyond 5 PM if still in session.
Q: Can I bring my cell phone/camera?
A: No. Phones must be turned off inside courtrooms and taking photographs or recordings is prohibited without special permission. Lockers are available to store devices and bags.
Q: Is a coat and tie dress code enforced?
A: While professional dress is ideal, casual dress in good repair is permitted – things like jeans and t-shirts are allowed.
Q: What if I’m running late for my traffic ticket hearing?
A: Call the courthouse clerical staff to alert them to avoid being held in contempt of court for failure to appear if you will arrive shortly after your scheduled time.
Q: Where can Ivalidate my parking ticket during jury duty?
A: Bring your summons and parking ticket to the jury assembly room. The clerk will validate it so you do not have to pay for courthouse parking.