Site Index

The LA County Court Orders

"To my friends everything, to my enemies the law."
Attributed to Marshal Oscar R. Benavides Larrea, Peruvian President, 1876 - 1945, and
Getulio Vargas, Brazilian President, 1882 - 1954

Judge Lee Smalley Edmon
Los Angeles County Superior Court Presiding Judge (as of 2012) Lee Smalley Edmon

Updated 7-18-12

For many years there has been a General Order, issued by the presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Courts, to regulate the behavior of visitors to the forty-eight courthouses in the County.

On Dec. 1, 2005, while I was distributing flyers in front of the Santa Monica courthouse (where Culver City tickets are heard), I was served with a copy of the General Order issued Nov. 15.  It added a prohibition of "education or counseling" within the courthouse, and moved the distribution of literature out to 100 feet from the front doors, from the former 10 feet.

Background - Why the New Order is of Interest to Me

  Until I was served with the new General Order, I was going out to the LA County courthouses every week.  I went there not just to observe the trials, but also to provide information to the defendants found there, to help them deal with their tickets.

The courthouse I was going to the most often was the Inglewood courthouse.  It handles the red light tickets for the City of Inglewood and the City of Hawthorne - over 2000 tickets per month.  (Approx. $800,000 in fines, monthly.)  I attended the weekly trials for the Hawthorne red light camera tickets, every Tuesday afternoon.  Typically there was 20 - 25 defendants scheduled for trial, and most of them showed up.  The trials are scheduled for 1:30, so I would show up at 12:30 and stand 10 feet or more outside the courthouse doors and distribute literature to the people going by.  I gave everyone who would accept it a small slip saying,

"Red Light Camera Ticket? 
Free Help!
No money requested or accepted.
 If you are here today about a camera ticket,
ask me for more printed information."

When people read the slip and then asked me for more information, I gave them literature tailored to whatever 'stage' they were at on their ticket.  I had a sheet for people who were just coming to the clerk's window for the first time, another sheet for people who were coming in for an arraignment,  and a (typically) four-page package for people who were arriving for that afternoon's trial session.   The 'trial package' included a Peremptory Challenge form.

Even though I would arrive plenty early on trial days, and there is only one public entrance to the courthouse, I found that I was able to get the 'trial package' to only a fraction of the defendants scheduled for trial. To get information to the others, at 1:15 I would put my literature back in my car and then go upstairs to the corridor outside the courtroom, and talk to the defendants who were sitting there waiting for the doors to open. 

In the corridor, I told the defendants whatever I might know about the judge's habits regarding the granting of traffic school (a big concern for most defendants).  I told them to question the quality of the 'face photo' on their ticket, and I told them that if the judge is really bad, they had the right to a Peremptory Challenge ("PC").  I told them that if they didn't have a PC form, they could do it orally.  (If you are a lawyer reading this, you will be concerned whether such a PC would be timely.  So, I will explain that during all of 2005 the courtroom that handles the Hawthorne trials was staffed by an ever-changing assortment of retired judges, working for only six weeks at a time.)  

Some of the retired judges were "really bad," so some brave defendants made PC's.   Most judges do not like PC's, and some are visibly angered.  There is a lot more to this story, but suffice it to say that those judges' complaints about frequent PC's could have helped cause Presiding Judge MacLaughlin to issue the new General Order, below.  

Judge MacLaughlin
Los Angeles County Superior Court Presiding Judge (as of 2005) William A. MacLaughlin

This is an old General Order, issue of August 2002.

(The mis-aligned type in paragraphs 3 - 5 represents a tear in the paper, caused when court personnel tore the Order down from their wall to make a copy of it to serve on me, back when it was in effect.)

This is immediately former General Order, issue of January 2005 (little or no change from the 2002 issue).

This is the General Order, issue of November 2005.

Page 1 of 2:

Page 2 of 2:

General Order, Issue of 2011, with Case Law