Skip to main content
Skip to main content.

ATTENTION

Scam Alert: The Superior Court of Santa Cruz has been notified that an individual posing as a deputy/court security is calling court customers stating that they owe money for failing to appear. If you receive a call of this nature, please contact the court directly at 831-420-2200 to receive accurate information.

Community Engagement

Image
Lighthouse

Our judges, commissioner, and court staff are dedicated to fostering open dialogues with the community on topics such as the judiciary's role, the responsibilities of judges, and the legal profession. Our objective is to promote greater understanding and accessibility to justice for everyone. Throughout Santa Cruz County, the Court offers an array of services and programs designed to cater to the varied requirements of individuals navigating the legal system. Ranging from initiatives such as Quilts for Adoptees to involving high school students in mock trial programs, the Superior Court diligently fosters trust and confidence within the communities it serves. The initiatives outlined below represent a selection of countywide efforts aimed at strengthening the relationship between the court and the community.

The mission of the Santa Cruz Superior Court is to preserve and protect the rights and ideals of society through the interpretation and enforcement of law, provide equal access to justice through quality service to the community by judicial officers and court staff and treat all participants in the judicial system with dignity and respect.

Cookie Court

Image
Cookie Court

The Santa Cruz Superior Court actively engages in supporting local schools by hosting educational programs aimed at introducing youth to trial law. Through partnerships with the Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, we are dedicated to enriching the education and experiences of our community's young learners. One such program, the Elementary Law Program (known as "Cookie Court"), provides a unique opportunity for local 5th graders to participate in a trial at the courthouse with the guidance of volunteer trial attorneys and teachers. In this interactive experience, students take on various roles within a criminal trial scenario, representing "Danny Defendant" and embodying key figures such as the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, clerk, and bailiff. Through Cookie Court, our youth gain firsthand exposure to the workings of the justice system, effectively bringing their 5th-grade civics curriculum to life.

Mock Trial Competition

Image
Santa Cruz High

The Santa Cruz Superior Court is proud to host our local high schools Mock Trial competition. The Mock Trial Competition provides high school students with a firsthand experience of the justice system. Through the examination of a hypothetical case, legal research, and trial role-play, students not only develop critical thinking skills but also gain a comprehensive understanding of our judicial process. This initiative, conducted in collaboration with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, is designed to emphasize the importance of analytical and critical thinking skills in students' educational development. The first annual Paul Marigonda mock trial award went to the Pajaro Valley High School team, for their enthusiasm, effort, and performance. 

Adoption Quilt Project

Image
adoption quilt

Although November is national adoption month, The Santa Cruz Superior Court proudly commemorates Adoptions by honoring adoptees and their families with specially crafted quilts all year long. This heartwarming tradition began when the Honorable Judge Guy enlisted the help of her mother, Laurel, to create quilts for the occasion. As demand grew, Laurel sought assistance from Karen Cunningham Gonzalez of the Pajaro Valley Quilt Association (PVQA), leading to the involvement of the Sew Little Timers group in the project.

With the court overseeing approximately 250 adoptions annually, the support of PVQA members has been invaluable. This collaborative effort, in partnership with Social Services and Family Service Courts of Santa Cruz County, reflects a shared commitment to improving the lives of children and families within our community.

Youth Art Exhibit

Image
youth art

Annually, the Watsonville Courthouse undergoes a vibrant transformation into a dynamic gallery, spotlighting the creative mastery of Pajaro Valley students through the Youth Art Exhibit, a cherished event coordinated by the Pajaro Valley Arts. These captivating pieces infuse the courthouse with a lively and inspirational ambiance for all who visit. By featuring student artworks, the Watsonville Courthouse not only nurtures the local arts community but also enriches the encounters of visitors with the judicial system.

This celebration applauds the artistic endeavors of our young talents, showcasing a remarkable array of 400 artworks from 16 local schools. Held in May each year, the exhibit offers an annual opening reception to welcome families and the public to view students’ creations, beautifully framed and proudly showcased in a public setting! These artworks adorn the courtroom hallways, the library and 4th floor of the Civic Plaza Building for one year.

Real DUI Court in Schools Program

Image
DUI

The Santa Cruz Superior Court is dedicated to imparting the crucial message of DUI prevention to young individuals by organizing real sentencing hearings within school assemblies. This initiative, known as the Real DUI Court in Schools program, offers high school students an engaging and interactive platform. Through live DUI sentencing hearings conducted within high schools, students gain firsthand insight into the repercussions of DUI offenses on drivers, victims of crashes, and the broader community.

Collaborating with partners such as The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the Public Defender's Office, and the District Attorney's Office, the Santa Cruz County Superior Courts work diligently to extend the reach of the Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to high schools across the county. These assemblies provide students with the opportunity to witness authentic adult DUI sentencing hearings, participate in informative sessions with speakers, interact with judicial staff through Q&A sessions, and acquire knowledge about the dangers of underage drinking.

Judicial officers currently participating in the Real DUI Court in Schools program in California view it as an effective model for DUI prevention efforts.

Summer Externship

Image
extern

Our Legal Externship Program offers a unique opportunity for law students to gain practical experience, develop professional skills, and explore the legal profession in a supportive and collaborative environment. We are committed to providing externs with a valuable and rewarding experience that will prepare them for success in their legal careers.

The Legal Externship Program is open to law students who have completed at least one year of law school coursework. Applicants should demonstrate a strong academic record, excellent research and writing skills, and a genuine interest in pursuing a career in the legal profession. Application period occurs in November and ends in January for the following summer.

Court Tours

Image
courthouse

The first Santa Cruz courthouse was an esteemed Romanesque Revival building, much revered for its brick architecture, and faithfully served the county until 1967, when court operations relocated to a new site. Over the years, the courthouse has moved and expanded throughout Santa Cruz County.

The current courthouses are located at 701 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, 1 Second St. in Watsonville, and our Juvenile courthouse in Felton. The Santa Cruz and Watsonville courthouses are open to public observation, though seating is limited and granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Daily courtroom schedules are posted for public perusal, categorized into "Morning" and "Afternoon" calendars. Sessions typically run from 8:30 AM to noon in the mornings and from 1:30 PM to 5 PM in the afternoons.

The Santa Cruz Superior Court will host its first guided tour on August 2nd at 2 PM, providing an opportunity for the public to explore its facilities. To join this tour, please sign up through this link: Court Tour RSVP.

Jury Appreciation

Image
jury

The Santa Cruz Superior Court proudly commemorates Juror Appreciation Week, a nationwide observance acknowledging the countless Americans who heed the summons to serve as jurors in our nation's legal proceedings. Occurring in May, Juror Appreciation Week serves as a time to contemplate the crucial role jurors fulfill in upholding our justice system and safeguarding our democracy. Annually, numerous residents of Santa Cruz County are called upon for jury duty, undertaking a fundamental civic responsibility that guarantees the equitable administration of justice in our courts. Jurors, ordinary citizens, are entrusted with making significant decisions that can profoundly impact individuals and communities alike. Their involvement is indispensable to the operation of our justice system, and we extend our gratitude for their service. Throughout Juror Appreciation Week, the Santa Cruz County Court encourages everyone to pause and express gratitude to a juror for their commitment and contribution to our democratic process. Whether through a heartfelt note, a social media tribute, or a simple acknowledgment in person, we can all demonstrate our appreciation for these often-unheralded champions of justice. The Superior Court, County of Santa Cruz, takes pride in endorsing Juror Appreciation Week and acknowledging the invaluable contributions of jurors nationwide. We urge everyone to join us in expressing gratitude to these essential members of our communities.

Visit our website for more information on Jury Service or serving on the Civil Grand Jury