f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 14, 2005

small claims courts get even better in California

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:48 pm

California already has one of the very best small claims court systems in the

nation.  Despite the veto of reform efforts by then-Governor Pete Wilson in 1997, 

the State got the second-highest grade on HALT’s 2004 Small Claims Report Card.   

A new law signed Governor Schwarzenegger, on October 6, 2005, will give the

State’s residents even better access to the civil justice system. 

tiny check Along with the legal reform group HALT, your Editor has long argued

(e.g., here and elsewhere) that reforming small claims courts — with

meaningful dollar limits and user-friendly improvements (like Plain

English forms, better hours, and both in-person and online advice) is

the single most effective way to give our justice system back to the

people (wresting it from lawyers who are jealous of their gatekeeper

perquisites and have stymied such reform).


“calMap2”   Thanks in large part to efforts by HALT, and hard-working California

allies like State Sen. Joe Simitian and Assembly Member Joseph Canciamilla

“natural persons” will be able to seek up to $7500 in damages in small claims

courts, beginning Jan. 1, 2006, and they will find improved “advisory services”

and better-trained “temporary judges.”  You can find a summary by legislative

counsel, along with the text of the Act, here, and an extensive explanation here.


tiny check  Click here to find out how your State did in HALT’s 2004

Small Claims Report Card, as well as state by state small

claims rules.


tiny check A Suggestion for Law Student Projects:  Do your share to scales rich poor

improve access to justice by everyday Americans — start a

project to improve the small claims laws in your state; help

design easy-to-use and to understand materials for these

People’sCourts — online and hardcopy; and volunteer to

serve as advisors at small claims courts.  Contact HALT

for ideas and assistance.



overcast morning–

ripe blackberries

out of reach





eviction notice —
a moth ricochets
in the lampshade







chill wind –
autumn leaves covering
autumn leaves




“overcast morning” – New Resonance 3;

“eviction notice” —  The Heron’s Nest (March 2004) 

“chill wind” – World Haiku Assn website;  Haiku Canada Newsletter XV:2



“califiaCover”  Speaking of California, I recently finished an intriguing adventure

novel called Califia’s Daughters, by Leigh Richards (a pseudonym for best-

selling and much-honored mystery writier Laurie R. King).  Set in the near

future, the story involves a world where “women warriors guard their peaceful,

self-sustaining California enclave, hunting, planting, harvesting, and keeping

watch over the men and boys essential to survival after most males perished

along with electric power and fossil-fuel-driven engines.” 


If you can suspend reality sufficiently to imagine a world in which men are

highly valued (and not allowed to do anything rowdy or dangerous, as only

10% survive past the age of two), you’ll enjoy this book, which was inspired

by the legend of Califia, the warrior queen for whom the State is named. There

are also marauding bands from north of old San Francisco, huge and intensely

loyal dogs, abandoned babies, mothers afraid of broken hearts whenever they 

give birth to a male child, citizens attempting to escape oppressive dictators,

and — of course — some great fight scenes with the women warriors.


leaves falling  by dagosan                                               

leaf-peepers ooh and ah —

why didn’t I

bring my gloves?



                     [Oct. 14, 2005]                         


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