News Release

Chief Justice directs action on traffic, civil cases, self-represented litigants, and technology

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye directs immediate council action on four recommendations from the Futures Commission.
May 18, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO—Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye today directed immediate Judicial Council action on four recommendations from the Futures Commission that are within the purview of the judicial branch, including Civil adjudication of minor traffic infractions to simplify the process for Californians, the courts, and law enforcement.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said, “I believe that the ultimate implementation of these recommendations is not only forward thinking and responsive to the real needs of Californians, but will also fundamentally improve their interactions and experiences with our justice system, whether it be a traffic ticket, a civil claim, coming to court without an attorney, or wanting to do their court business online the courts will truly be more accessible.”

The chief justice announced her decisions during the Judicial Council of California’s May Business Meeting and in a letter to the council’s Internal Committee Chairs. The Futures Commission recommendations for immediate action are:

Civil adjudication of minor traffic infractions—would create a civil model for adjudication of minor vehicle infractions that would free up court and law enforcement resources and simplify procedures for defendants, as well as create online processing for all phases of traffic infractions.

Revision of civil case tiers and streamlined civil procedures—would increase the maximum jurisdictional dollar amounts for limited civil cases to $50,000, and create a new intermediate civil case track with a maximum jurisdictional dollar amount of $250,000, as well as streamlining methods for litigating and managing all types of civil cases.

Assistance for self-represented litigants—would create an education program to aid the growing number of self-represented litigants in small claims and civil cases, improve access to local court-based, and provide specialized state-level resources.

Expansion of technology in the courts—would implement a pilot project to allow remote appearances by parties, counsel, and witnesses for most noncriminal court proceedings, a pilot project using voice-to-text language interpretation services at court filing and service counters and in self-help centers, and a pilot project using intelligent chat technology to provide information and self-help services.

Each recommendation has been assigned to a Judicial Council advisory committee who must report back at the end of the third quarter of 2017 with the status of their evaluations and proposals for implementation. The balance of the Futures Commission recommendations will be assigned by the Judicial Council Executive and Planning Committee for consideration.