Civil cases involve violation of private rights rather than violation

of Criminal law.  A civil matter involves a lawsuit in which one party

sues another to recover money or property, to enforce a contract

or an obligation, to collect damages for injury or to protect

some Civil right.

Filing Types:

Civil Services:


Alternate Dispute Resolution

The mediation services discussed below are separate from family law mediation services administered through the court. If you are looking for information on family law mediation, click here.

There are many ways to settle disputes while still reserving your right to go trial. ADR stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution. It refers to a process that is an "alternative" to having a trial to resolve your dispute. The Superior Court of Tuolumne County offers Mediation.  

Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 3.221, in most Civil cases, the Plaintiff must serve a copy of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) information package on each defendant together with the Complaint, Summons, Civil Case Cover Sheet and the Local Delay Reduction Form , if applicable.   The ADR Information package includes the ADR Information Sheet (Form Number CV\E-100) which can be found on the Court Info Site: http://www.courts.ca.gov/ under Forms & Rules.

To see the Tuolumne Superior Court Approved Civil Mediation Panel, click here.

For more information or to locate ADR programs, contact the court at (209) 533-5555.

Civil Harassment

Under California law (Code of Civil Procedure § 527.8), a person who has suffered harassment may seek a temporary restraining order and an injunction prohibiting harassment.


For more information see our Civil Harassment page or go to:


Limited and Unlimited Civil Cases

Civil cases involve a lawsuit in which one party sues another to:

  • Recover money or property.

  • To enforce a contract.

  • To collect damages for injury.

  • To protect some civil right.

Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Cases

What is a limited civil case?

Limited Civil cases are those involving $25,000 or less, except small claims cases.

What is an unlimited civil case?

Unlimited Civil cases are all other cases except family law or probate cases.

What is a delay reduction (DR) case?

Delay Reduction cases are civil cases in which the court imposes timelines in order to make sure these cases are resolved quickly, usually within one year.

What is the fee for filing a civil case?

The current fees for filing an initial complaint, petition or application can be found here.

If you are low-income, you may be able to qualify for a fee waiver and not have to pay a filing fee. Fee waiver forms and information can be found here.

Are any of the forms for filing or responding to a civil case available online?

The Judicial Council has developed several forms which can be used in civil cases. These forms can be found at: www.courts.ca.gov/forms.

How can I respond to a civil complaint?

A defendant can file an answer to a complaint, or if the complaint fails to comply with applicable procedural laws, the defendant can file a motion challenging the legality of the complaint, such as a demurrer or a motion to strike.

What is a demurrer?

A demurrer is a motion brought by a defendant to challenge a defective complaint. Usually a demurrer is brought when the defendant does not believe the plaintiff has stated sufficient facts to support the legal theory, or cause of action, upon which the plaintiff’s claim is based. Sometimes a demurrer may be brought because the statute of limitations has run. A demurrer can be brought as to the entire complaint, or as to one or more causes of action.

What is a motion to strike?

A motion to strike is usually brought to request the court delete an improper allegation or statement from a complaint. Sometimes a motion to strike is directed to one word or phrase, sometimes it is directed to an entire cause of action. A motion to strike can also be filed with a demurrer, but the court charges a separate motion fee for each motion.

What is discovery?

There are different methods of gathering information in a case to prepare the case for trial. These methods, which include depositions, interrogatories, demands to produce documents, requests for admission, and site inspections, are collectively referred to as "discovery."

Can a case be settled out of court?

Yes, if the parties are willing. You can use alternative dispute resolution, generally called ADR. ADR refers to a number of ways of resolving conflicts without a lawsuit or, if you have filed a lawsuit, without a trial. These alternative ways are used for many types of disputes, including divorces, business and real estate disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, disputes with contractors, financial disputes, employer-employee disputes, inheritance disputes, and conflicts between neighbors.

Information on Tuolumne County Superior Court’s Civil Mediation Program, including a list of mediators, can be found here.

Where can I get further information on the rules and procedures relating to civil cases? Rules of court, statutes, case law and other materials that may be useful to understanding the procedures in civil cases are available at the courts self-help center/law library located on the ground floor of the Historic Courthouse at 41 West Yaney Ave. The phone number for the center is (209) 533-6565. Please note that the clerks can only direct you to helpful books and other materials. They cannot answer legal questions or assist you in preparing your case.

Court Appearance by Telephone (CourtCall)

CourtCall is an organized program allowing attorneys or self-represented persons to appear by telephone in certain non-evidentiary, pre-trial proceedings. By paying a fixed fee in advance, an attorney or unrepresented party may secure a place on the court's telephonic hearing calendar and make an appearance without leaving their home, office, or other convenient location. A fee or a current fee waiver for this service is required by CourtCall. CourtCall is voluntary and supplements, but does not replace, the regular calendar for those matters requiring a personal appearance. All CourtCall appearances should be arranged no later than five (5) court days prior to the hearing.

To learn more about Courtcall, go to the Courtcall home page: Court Call

Fax Filing

The Tuolumne County Superior Court does not accept fax filings. The court does accept fax filings at the counter or by mail presented by a legal services agency.

Name Change

In order to get a court order changing your name or a child’s name, you must file a petition in the Superior Court in the county where you live. You can then use the court order to change the birth certificate, passport, social security card, driver’s license, and other documents.

After you file your petition to change the name, you will get a court hearing. Before your hearing, you will have to post a legal notice in a newspaper of general circulation for four consecutive (in a row) weeks, one day per week.

If you are trying to change the name of your child, you will also have to personally serve the other parent at least 30 days prior to the hearing so that he or she has the opportunity  to come to court if he or she doesn’t agree. If both parents agree, they both can sign the petition to change their child’s name.

Tentative Rulings (California Rules of Court 3.1308)

Please note that Tentative Rulings are only available for certain civil law and motion matters in unlimited civil cases This does not include civil harassment petitions, any family law matters, or case management conferences.

The tentative rulings are available online by clicking the link below, or by telephone at (209) 533-6633 no later than 3:00pm the Court Day before the hearing.  If you wish to appear for oral argument, pursuant to CRC 3.1308, you must so notify the court and opposing counsel by 4:00 p.m., the court day before the hearing. The court telephone number for such notification is (209) 533-5974.

Absent a request for oral argument, the tentative ruling will be adopted as final at the time set for hearing.

Tentative Rulings

Calendaring a Civil Hearing

To calendar a Civil Hearing contact the Civil Division.  The Civil Division is located on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse, 41 West Yaney Avenue, Sonora, CA.

Phone:  (209) 533-5555


Workplace Violence

Under California law (Code of Civil Procedure § 527.8), an employer whose employee has suffered violence or threat of violence at the workplace may seek a temporary restraining order and an injunction prohibiting harassment.

The petitioner must be an employer with standing to bring this action. An employer is defined under section 350(a) of the California Labor Code as, "every person engaged in any business or enterprise in this state that has one or more persons in service under any appointment, contract of hire, or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, irrespective of whether the person is the owner of the business or is operating on a concessionaire or other basis."

Harassment may include, but is not limited to, unlawful violence, or a credible threat of violence construed to have been carried out or has been carried out at the workplace.

The protective order can be enforced by law enforcement agencies after the defendant has been served.

For more information go to:


The Civil Division is located on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse.


Historic Courthouse

41 W. Yaney Avenue, Second Floor

Phone: (209) 533-5555

© 2009 Superior Court of California, County of Tuolumne