Beloved, Hated Wealthy Community Orange County Courthouse Closes Due to Lack of Money.

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If you have a bench warrant or an old speeding ticket with a failure to appear that you caught one morning trying to get to work in your Lotus after surfing Three Arch Bay, we have some bad news.

The Laguna Hills Courthouse is closing. You now have to go to Newport or the beautiful Fullerton Courthouse to take care of your case(s). Here is the official Court Press Release re: Closure of Laguna Hills Facility.

SocCal Beach

SocCal Beach

While you are there in Newport, staring at the beach break, the rest of us will be having a wake for the beloved and hated Laguna Courthouse.

Why? Sadly, the Orange County Superior Court has determined that due to repeated state budget cuts from Sacratomato, the Laguna Courthouse can no longer operate.

Laguna? “Where is Laguna?”, the general public might ask. “Isn’t Laguna Beach the home of Sigmund the Seamonster? And Housewives of OC? Yes, that Laguna. The courthouse of the rich and famous Laguna is closing due to lack of money.


The officially named “Orange County Superior Court Harbor Justice Center – Laguna Hills” was a beloved thorn in the side of many Attorneys for many years. Although not to be missed, its closure is ironic.

Why not to be missed? Because it is nearly certain that hundreds of, if not thousands, unsuspecting young hard working Attorneys and everyday people have been screwed by the fact that this courthouse has almost the exact same name as the “Orange County Superior Court Harbor Justice Center – Newport Beach Courthouse.”

Of course they are not the same thing, and it is very easy to go to the wrong one, thinking you are in the right “Harbor Justice Center”.

For years, both “Harbor Justice Center” courthouses handled the same type of cases. Traffic, Civil Limited, Small Claims, Misdemeanors occasionally. It was always too easy to get the two confused, and miss a court date even though you had good faith plans to be there.

Now it will be easier to tell which Harbor Justice Center you should be in, because there is only going to be one. The Laguna Courthouse is closing, and all the cases that were in Laguna Harbor Justice Center are moving to the Newport Courthouse on Jamboree Way.

If you think you have or had a pending case in the Harbor Justice Center, Laguna Hills, you should check with the Newport Courthouse court clerks office to get an update on the status of your case from a real human. Otherwise, the Orange County Superior Court has excellent online access to case details.

Orange County is also creating a separate “Collections Court” for traffic ticket cases with a failure to appear and civil assessment attached. These “Collections” cases as the court calls them, are all going to be heard in the Fullerton Courthouse starting July 1, 2013. Because of this, if you have an old traffic ticket from the Laguna Courthouse, and you are not sure what its status is, you may have to check with both the Fullerton (North Justice Center) and Newport Courthouses. Confirm the location of your case before you head out to the courthouse, so you dont end up at the wrong one like I have many times before.

Yes, even I was the victim of a savvy legal secretary who once thought it would be funny to send me to a deposition at the “Harbor Justice Center”, without telling me which “Harbor Justice Center”, or even that there were in fact 2 separate “Harbor Justice Centers”.

Drive around in circles for an hour or two. Ha, ha. Very funny. I billed for it anyway, so the joke is on you Wilma.

The court clerks at Laguna always had a naughty smile for me as they would tell me that I was in the wrong courthouse. Again.

Why does it matter? “They must be close to each other” you would think. If you went to the wrong one, couldn’t you just drive to the other “Harbor Justice Center”?

Ha! At 8:49 am on a Monday morning that simple 9.6 mile driver could take 2 hours, and require you to drive on one of California’s only private toll roads. Strange, but true.

Laguna Beach Riches. Courtesy of Photo D Ramey Logan and Wikipedia

Why Ironic? Because the courthouse closure hits one of the richest communities in California, right on the coast. The housewives of Laguna Beach are so rich they have pools carved out of stone cliff at the water’s edge.

Why dont they have the money for this courthouse? Why not close the craphole Westminster Courthouse? Or that shifty one on the Pier that you dont tell anyone about until the last minute.

—-As a side note here I must point out that it is true there is a hidden courthouse on the Piers of Orange County, California. Although you might expect to find it full of hippies eating fish tacos, last check revealed a lady judge who required everyone to say the pledge of allegiance prior to the start of court. —-

Why beloved? Any time you had to work at the Laguna Courthouse, you could go surfing when you were done.

Save that parking slip baby! Bring the beach cruiser! If you show up at teh right courthouse the first time, that court appearance might only take you 20 minutes. Free parking. Boss will never know. He told you to bill 4 hours for that appearance anyway.

Might as well make it 4 hours.

Questions, Memories? Leave a reply.

More info:

FAQ on Traffic Ticket Collections Cases (failure to appear / civil assessment cases) from Orange County Court.

About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
This entry was posted in California Legal Help, Going to Court, Misdemeanor, Missed Court Dates, Orange County, Tickets in Collections and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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