It’s an interesting question because I probably count about seven courthouses, although some of the courthouses are outlying the Valley but cover some of the ground in the Valley. For example, Malibu used to be one of the courthouses that covered some of the ground in the Valley, but then they closed that courthouse down. What they’ve done – the powers that be in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County – is they have divided the cases that relate to what used to be Malibu’s jurisdiction between the Van Nuys Court and the LAX Court.
So, it’s interesting. You could get a criminal case on the outskirts of the San Fernando Valley right near Lost Hills Sheriff Station, for example, Agora, West Valley Circle, and end up having to go to the Airport Court, the LAX Court if they’ve divided your particular area up with the Airport Court. The other half of those cases goes to another one of the courts in the Valley which is the Van Nuys Court. Van Nuys is handling, in my opinion, most of the San Fernando Valley – the west-end of the San Fernando Valley, the middle of the San Fernando Valley, all the cities within the San Fernando Valley. So, if you are arrested for a crime you’re typically going to go to the Van Nuys court if it happened in the San Fernando Valley.
There are some exceptions. San Fernando pretty much covers the north end of the Valley, so if you get anything on the north end of the San Fernando Valley, you’re typically going to go to the San Fernando courthouse. This is where another courthouse kind of pops in to play and that’s the Valencia courthouse. It’s in Valencia which is still inside of LA County, but it’s not in the San Fernando Valley. But, because San Fernando is in the Valley and what ends up happening is felony cases that are arrested in Valencia are being shipped into the San Fernando court. I don’t know if it’s the neighborhood around there or what the deal is, but they don’t like bringing in the Sheriff Buses and custodies into the Valencia court. So, even though cases are taking place in Valencia, they’re being dealt with in the San Fernando courthouse who as you might guess, the combination of the north end of the Valley business and the business from the Valencia court system, makes San Fernando a pretty busy court.
Also, what I would consider in the San Fernando Valley is Burbank. Burbank has been there a long time. I worked for a Superior Court Judge there back in the early 1990’s, so I know that system really well. They’re their own little incorporated city, but again they’re still part of Los Angeles County and they’re still part of the San Fernando Valley. Also in that neck of the woods, there’s a courthouse in Glendale. Glendale is usually handling small traffic-related offenses. You’re not typically going to see them dealing with felonies. They’re going to send those on to the other court in the Valley, which is the Pasadena courthouse.
Pasadena courthouse which is on the far end of the San Fernando Valley – the east-end of the Valley – is usually handling most of the serious cases that are occurring in the Burbank/Glendale and Pasadena areas. They’re one of the big power guys out there. That courthouse is a decent size courthouse, although it’s a pretty old building. But, they’re very comparable as far as the seriousness of the cases that they handle to Van Nuys and San Fernando who are the other two big San Fernando Valley courts.
That’s pretty much it for the Valley courthouses. Any other courthouse related to the San Fernando Valley has pretty much been closed down for budget reasons. The big ones that are handling most of the business – most of the cases – are San Fernando, Van Nuys and even Pasadena. It’s interesting because Burbank and Glendale kind of work well with Pasadena as far as Burbank will actually do some of the preliminary hearings on the felony cases in Burbank, and then after the preliminary hearing if there’s any case left, they’ll send it to the Pasadena courthouse.
I had a big case years ago that they actually did the felony preliminary hearing which I very rarely ever see any more in Glendale. Then after the prelim, the case was shipped – and it was a murder case – it was shipped into Pasadena. The defense filed a 995 motion to dismiss all the murder charges against each of the five defendants and the Pasadena judge pretty much overruled the Glendale judge and dismissed the whole case.
So, you really need to know the system. You need to know how the Valley works – what courts are tough – what courts are little easier to deal with – and then it even gets a little more complicated because you have to know which crimes. For example, San Fernando is very tough on drug offenses and weapon offenses. Whereas, Van Nuys is going to be more tough, in my opinion, on sex offenses. They’re very vicious in that area and they have a whole sex department where they’re looking to send people to prison and make them register for the rest of their life as a sex offender.
So, depending on where you are, what type of case you have – you have to know the ins-and-outs of that court system, the players in that court system and the best source for that is your criminal defense attorney who has a lot of experience in the particular courthouse where your case is pending.
Categorised in: San Fernando Court