San Francisco Superior Court–Amendments to Local Rules Effective July 1, 2009

The San Francisco Superior Court makes the following amendments to its local rules effective July 1, 2009.  For statutes and rules, including local rules, applicable to drafting, filing and serving civil litigation documents in the San Francisco Superior Court, please visit SmartRules San Francisco Superior Court coverage

 Changes to San Francisco Superior Court Rules Effective July 1, 2009:

Rule 4 – Alternative Dispute Resolution

NO CHANGES IN SECTIONS 4.0 and 4.12.7

4.2 Voluntary Civil Mediation.
A. Civil Mediation Act. NO CHANGES
B. Types of Mediation Available And Eligible Cases. NO CHANGES
C. Election to Mediate. NO CHANGES
D. Mediation in Lieu of Judicial Arbitration. NO CHANGES
E. No Tolling of Time Limits. NO CHANGES
F. Selection of Mediation Provider. NO CHANGES
G. Payment of Mediation Provider. NO CHANGES
H. Mediation Outcome Questionnaire. NO CHANGES
I. Mediation Advisory Committee. NO CHANGES
J. Mediation Program Judge. NO CHANGES
K. Mediation Provider List. Civil Mediation Panel.

1. The Court maintains a list of mediation providers which is available to parties.
2. Mediation providers may be added to the list by the Court upon the recommendation of the Mediation Advisory Committee.
3. In order to be eligible for inclusion on the Court’s list, an individual applicant must:
a. Complete an application provided by the Court listing the applicant’s education, training, experience and references.
b. Provide evidence of satisfaction of one of the following three alternatives:
(1) Have completed at least forty (40) hours of education or training in mediation and have participated as a mediator or co-mediator in at least five (5) mediations;
(2) Have completed at least sixteen (16) hours of education and training in mediation and have participated as a mediator or co-mediator in at least fifteen (15) mediations; or
(3) Provide other satisfactory evidence of mediation skills and experience;
c. Provide evidence of insurance coverage;
b. Agree to abide by the Standards of Conduct for Mediators;
c. Be willing and able to conduct mediation in San Francisco;
f. Agree to cooperate with the administration of the program, in particular, completion of forms and questionnaires related to the evaluation of the program and;
g. Agree to accept by Court assignment at least one case a year for mediation on an uncompensated basis.
4. In order to be eligible for inclusion on the Court’s list as an organization providing mediation services, the organization must:
a. Complete an application provided by the Court describing the organization, the mediation or other alternative dispute resolution services it provides, and the training provided to mediators, or the type of training required of mediators;
b. Identify the mediators in the organization who are available to conduct mediation and who have the qualifications required for individual mediators;
c. Provide evidence of insurance coverage;
d. Agree that mediators will abide by the Standards of Conduct for Mediators;
e. Have a San Francisco business address and be willing and able to conduct mediation in San Francisco;
f. Agree to cooperate with the administration of the program, including the completion of forms and questionnaires related to the evaluation of the program; and
g. Agree to accept by Court assignment for each mediator participating in the program at least one case a year for mediation on an uncompensated basis.
5. Individual mediation providers or members of a provider organization are not required to be attorneys.
6. [NEW] Grounds for Resignation, Suspension and Removal from Civil Mediation Panel.
a. A panel member may request to be removed at any time upon ten (10) days’ advance notice submitted to the Court’s ADR Administrator.
b. A panel member may be summarily suspended by the Court for so long as there is failure to comply with the rules of the panel, including any reporting requirements.
c. Any panel member may be removed from the panel or suspended for:
(1) Failure to handle Court referred case with professional competence and diligence;
(2) Charging unconscionable fees or other charges;
(3) Failure to completely disclose all fees and charges at the outset of the case;
(4) Falsification of any material statement made to qualify for any panel or made in any required report;
(5) Violation of any rule of professional conduct applicable to the provider as determined by the applicable professional organization;
(6) Commission of a crime involving moral turpitude;
(7) Repeated failure to comply with these rules;
(8) Loss or suspension of a professional license may be grounds for removal;
(9) Violation of the Standards of Conduct for Mediators pursuant to CRC §3.850 et. seq.
7. [NEW] Complaint Procedures and Complaint Proceedings against Civil Mediation Panel Members
a. All inquiries and complaints lodged against a panel member must be submitted to the ADR Administrator who shall serve as the complaint coordinator pursuant to CRC §3.867.
b. Upon receipt of a complaint, the ADR Administrator shall send the complainant written acknowledgement that the Court has received the complaint.
c. The ADR Administrator shall conduct a preliminary review of all complaints to determine whether it can be informally resolved, closed, or warrants investigation.
d. If the complaint is not resolved or closed during preliminary review:
(1) The mediator shall be given written notice of the complaint and an opportunity to respond.
(2) The complaint shall be investigated and a written recommendation concerning court action on the complaint shall be made by a complaint committee. The complaint committee must include at least one member who has experience as a mediator and who has knowledge of the Standards of Conduct for Mediators.
(3) The final decision on the complaint shall be made by the Presiding Judge or his/her designee within thirty (30) days after the complaint committee’s recommendation is submitted to the Presiding Judge.
(4) The Court shall send written notice of the final action taken by the court on the complaint to the complainant and to the mediator. The notice shall be sent no later than ten (10) days after the Presiding Judge or his/her designee makes a final decision on the complaint.
(5) After the decision on a complaint, the Presiding Judge or the designee selected pursuant to Rule 7d.(3) above may authorize public disclosure of the name of the mediator against whom action has been taken, the action taken, and the general basis on which the action was taken.
e. All complaint procedures and complaint proceedings shall be kept confidential. No information or records regarding the receipt, investigation, or resolution of a complaint may be open to the public or disclosed outside the course of the complaint proceeding except as provided in Rule 7d.(5) above or as otherwise required by law.

4.3 Early Settlement Conference Program (“ESP”). NO CHANGES

4.4 Voluntary Arbitration. NO CHANGES

Rule 4 amended effective July 1, 2009; adopted July 1, 1998; amended effective January 1, 2001; amended effective January 1, 2003; amended effective January 1, 2004; amended effective January 1, 2005; amended effective July 1, 2006; amended effective July 1, 2007; amended effective July 1, 2008.

Rule 8 – Civil Law and Motion / Writs and Receivers

8.0 Civil Law and Motion Departments. NO CHANGES

8.1 Law and Motion Departments: Matters and Exceptions. NO CHANGES

8.2 Law and Motion Calendar.
A. Hearing.
1. Time of Hearing. All limited and unlimited jurisdiction matters are heard in Departments 301 or 302 at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. The hours may be changed from time to time by the Judge presiding in the respective Law and Motion Department, and notice of these hearings will be published in the official legal newspapers and posted in the Civic Center Courthouse.
. 2. Selection of Date.
a. Parties must schedule and notice hearings within the time limits provided by law, e.g., CCP § 1005. Shorter time limits may apply to unlawful detainer actions. Parties should confer with all other parties before scheduling and noticing a hearing.
b. Since a file cannot be reviewed by two judges at the same time, parties must not notice motions in the same case in different departments for the same date. [NEW SENTENCE] Nor may a motion be noticed in a Law and Motion Department on or after the date set for trial.
c. Failure to comply with any part of this subsection may result in the matter being placed off calendar.
3. Appearance by Telephone (CRC §3.670). See LRSF 3.4 (F).

NO CHANGES TO THE REST OF SECTION 8.2

NO CHANGES SECTIONS 8.3 THROUGH 8.9

Rule 8 amended effective July 1, 2009; adopted July 1, 1998; amended effective January 1, 2000; amended effective January 1, 2001; amended effective July 1, 2006; amended effective July 1, 2008.

Rule 11 – Family Law

NO CHANGES IN SECTIONS 11.0 THROUGH 11.6

11.7 Law and Motion and Readiness Calendars. NO CHANGES
A. Pleadings. NO CHANGES
B. Child Custody and Visitation Matters: Readiness Calendar. NO CHANGES
C. Child Custody and Visitation Matters: Mandatory Orientation and Mediation.
NO CHANGES
D. Court Hearings.
1. Hearing Dates. NO CHANGES
2. Non-English Speaking Parties. NO CHANGES
3. Hearing Procedures. NO CHANGES
4. Appearance by Telephone. NO CHANGES
5. Order of Cases. NO CHANGES
6. Non-Appearance of a Party. NO CHANGES
7. Stipulated Continuances. NO CHANGES
8. Stipulated Orders. NO CHANGES
9. Findings And Order After Hearing. Written findings and orders are required following all Law and Motion hearings. The following rules do not apply to matters in Department 416 or where the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is actively involved.
a. Preparation of Proposed Findings and Order After Hearing. At the conclusion of a Law and Motion hearing, the Court will order one of the parties to prepare a proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING and required attachments. This form must not be used for cases in which issues were resolved by stipulation.
b. Submission of Proposed Findings and Order After Hearing to Other Party. The party preparing the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING must submit the proposed order to the other party for approval within five calendar days of the Court hearing.
c. Failure of Party to Prepare Proposed Findings and Order After Hearing. If the party ordered by the Court to prepare the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING fails to do so within five calendar days, the other party may prepare the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING and send it directly to the Court without the approval from the party ordered to prepare it.
d. Failure of Other Party to Approve or Reject Proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. The other party must promptly approve or reject the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. If the other party does not respond to the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING within five calendar days of service, the party preparing the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING may submit it directly to the Court with a letter explaining that the other party did not respond. This letter must state: the date the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING was sent to the other party; the other party’s reasons for not approving the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING, if known; the date and results of the parties’ attempt to meet and confer; and, a request that the Court sign the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. When service of the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING is by mail, the time to respond must be extended five calendar days pursuant to CCP § 1013(a).
e. Objections to Proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. If the other party objects to the form or content of the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING, the parties must meet and confer by telephone or in person to attempt to resolve the disputed language. If the parties fail to resolve their disagreement and the other party rejects the proposed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING, the other party must submit alternate proposed language to the Court along with a copy of the official transcript of the Court hearing.
f. Award of Attorney’s Fees and Costs. If either party fails to comply with the procedures set forth above, the Court may award attorney’s fees, costs of preparing the Court reporter’s transcript, and other costs upon an ex parte application.
g. Service of Signed FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. Following the signing of the Court order, the courtroom clerk will file the FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING. The party who prepared the FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING must mail an endorsed filed copy to the other party and to any appointed Unified Family Court Services mediator.

NO CHANGES IN SECTIONS 11.8 THROUGH 11.15

11.16 Unified Family Court Services (“UFCS”). NO CHANGES
A. Confidential Mediation Services. NO CHANGES
B. Non-Confidential Mediation Services. NO CHANGES
C. Voluntary Mediation. NO CHANGES
D. Complaints and Request for New Mediator. NO CHANGES
E. Ex-Parte Communication. NO CHANGES
F. Child Custody Evaluations. NO CHANGES
1. Format for Order Appointing a Custody Evaluator. NO CHANGES
2. Responsibilities Accompanying Preparation of a Custody Evaluation Order.
NO CHANGES
3. Role of Family Court Services in Custody Evaluator Selection. NO CHANGES
4. Assignment of Coordinating Mediator from Family Court Services. NO CHANGES
5. List of Local Custody Evaluators. NO CHANGES
6. Court Review Dates. NO CHANGES
7. Information From Children. . NO CHANGES
8. Confidentiality of custody evaluations. NO CHANGES
9. Dissemination of custody reports. Custody evaluators will send the original report to the coordinating mediator. The coordinating mediator will send copies of the report to attorneys and will schedule a time for self-represented parties to review the report at the court. The coordinating mediator will send out a copy of the report to any self-represented party within ten (10) days of any hearing or trial.Dissemination of custody evaluations. NO CHANGES
10. Limitations on Sanctions for Dissemination of Custody Evaluations and Sanctions. NO CHANGES
11. Duty to Meet and Confer after receipt of Custody Report. NO CHANGES
12. Other Post Evaluation Procedures. NO CHANGES
13. Challenge of an appointed custody evaluator. NO CHANGES
14. Complaints about an evaluator. The Court has no authority to investigate complaints against private child custody evaluators. If a party alleges that an unprofessional or inappropriate act has been committed by a custody evaluator during the course of the evaluation, he or she is encouraged to discuss the matter informally with the evaluator. If the matter cannot be resolved informally the party should file a complaint with the appropriate state licensing board and send a copy of the complaint to the supervising mediator of Family Court Services.

a. For purposes of this process, “action” means the family law proceeding wherein the evaluator was appointed by the Court.
b. A party to the action, including a guardian ad litem, and any counsel appointed to represent a minor may file a complaint about the performance of an evaluator.
c. A party who wishes to complain about the performance of an evaluator must do so in writing. All parties, the evaluator and the Supervising Mediator of Family Court Services must receive a copy of the written complaint.
d. The evaluator may submit a written response to the complaint. The response must be served on all parties and the Supervising Mediator of Family Court Services.
e. If the Supervising Mediator of Family Court Services cannot resolve the issue, the complaint and any written response will be given to the Supervising Judge of the Unified Family Court for a decision. The decision of the Supervising Judge of the Unified Family Court, which may include removing the evaluator from the panel of child custody evaluators used by the court, will be final.

11.17 Alternative Dispute Resolution for Family Law Matters. NO CHANGES

Rule 11 amended effective July 1, 2009; adopted July 1, 1998; amended effective July 1, 1999; amended effective January 1, 2001; amended effective January 1, 2003; amended effective January 1, 2004; amended effective January 1, 2005; amended effective July 1, 2006; amended effective January 1, 2007; amended effective July 1, 2007; amended effective January 1, 2008; amended effective July 1, 2008; amended effective January 1, 2009.

Rule 14 – Probate

NO CHANGES IN SECTIONS 14.0 THROUGH 14.67

14.68 Broker’s Commissions (Probate Code §§10161-10166).
A. Improved Property. The Court will ordinarily allow a broker’s commission not to exceed six five percent (6%) (5%) of the sale price. It is understood that commissions are negotiable and the parties may agree to a lesser percentage.
B. Unimproved Property. The Court will ordinarily allow a broker’s commission not to exceed ten percent (10%) of the sale price. In each instance, the Court will determine what is unimproved property.
C. Order Must Show Commission Allocation. The order confirming sale must show the total commissions allowed and any allocation agreed on between the brokers. (For examples of allocation of commissions, see appendix B.)
D. Commission Rates of Property Sites Will Apply. Where the property is not located in San Francisco County, the Court will allow commissions based on the San Francisco Probate Department schedules unless it is shown that a larger commission would be allowed based on the schedule in effect in the Probate Department of the county in which the property is located.
E. Commissions in Excess of Schedules. A commission exceeding the normal schedule will be allowed only if the Court determines that there are special circumstances and that it is reasonable. The written agreement of the affected beneficiaries to the allowance of such commission should be obtained and presented at the hearing.
F. Broker Bidding for Own Account Not Entitled to a Commission. A broker bidding for his own account is not entitled to receive or share in a commission. Estate of Toy (1977) 72 Cal.App.3d 392.

NO CHANGES IN SECTIONS 14.69 THROUGH 14.103

Rule 14 amended effective July 1, 2009; adopted July 1, 1998; amended effective January 1, 2000; amended effective January 1, 2001; amended effective January 1, 2003; amended effective January 1, 2004; amended effective January 1, 2005; amended effective July 1, 2006; amended effective January 1, 2007; amended effective July 1, 2007; amended effective January 1, 2008; amended effective July 1, 2008; amended effective January 1, 2009.

 Rule 18 – Small Claims 

18.0 [NEW] Case Disposition.
a. Plaintiff’s failure to appear at the scheduled trial may result in the case being dismissed.
b. If the plaintiff has not served the defendant, plaintiff must request resetting three (3) calendar days before the scheduled trial.
c. If the defendant(s) has not been served by the date of trial, and the plaintiff does not reset the matter, the case will be dismissed without prejudice when the case is called.
d. If the case is dismissed on the date of trial for lack of service and resetting, and the plaintiff wishes to further litigate the claim, plaintiff must file a new claim and pay a new filing fee.
e. At the time of filing a small claims case, a notice shall be given to the plaintiff by the clerk, advising plaintiff of the need to serve and provide proof of service prior to the time of trial.

18.0 18.1 Continuances. A request for continuance in a Small Claims case must be filed ten (10) or more calendar days before the hearing or trial, unless for good cause the Court orders otherwise.

18.1 18.2 Commissioners. Small Claims cases are heard by a commissioner assigned by the presiding judge, as authorized by Government Code §72190. A commissioner shall hear small claims cases without the need for stipulation or consent by a party to the small claims action.

Rule 18 amended effective July 1, 2009; adopted July 1, 1998; amended effective January 1, 2004.

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