I got a ticket, a “citation” for having an expired car registration in Oakland. That’s handled in the “Superior Court of California, County of Alameda”. Actually my registration wasn’t expired but I didn’t have the new registration in the car at the time. But that’s not the point. The point is, I wasted 1 1/2 hours of my day this morning going to Oakland Superior Court and I’m here to tell you how to make your experience easier.
At the bottom of my citation, it said that I was supposed to go to court on 1-22-08 at 9am. This is wrong. Here’s how it really works: It takes 4-
8 forever(?) weeks from the time the citation is issued until it’s in the computer. Then I’ll be sent a “courtesy notice” by snail mail telling me what I’m supposed to do. Note that my violation was on 11-22-07. Today is 1-24-08… 8 weeks later and my citation still isn’t in the system. I should also note that the phone number the officer wrote isn’t the correct number… but when you call, it tells you what the new number is.
The nice gentleman at the information booth told me to check the status of my citation every 2 weeks at http://www.acgov.org/courts. (note: the site actually forwards to this site). Or I can call the Wiley W Manuel Courthouse – Traffic Division at 510-627-4701. But I’ve called that number and sat on the line waiting for someone to answer the phone for 20 minutes in vain. Use the website instead.
The citation said that I was supposed to show up at 9am. This is wrong. The nice gentleman at the info desk told me that registration for the morning court session opens at 8am. Shortly it will open at 7:30am. But at 7:30am, there is already a long line outside so you’ll do best to show up at the courthouse at 7am or even 6:30am. That way, you’ll be able to register for one of the 120 spots in the 10am morning court session. If you don’t get into the first session, you’ll be registering for the second session which starts at 2pm (IE your entire day wasted). And if there were too many people in front of you, you’ll be told to come back tomorrow, rinse and repeat. Also note that there is no afternoon court session on Thursdays. The nice gentleman at the info desk told me that many people were turned away today (Thursday) because of that.
The address of the Wiley W. Manual Courthouse is 661 Washington, Oakland, CA between 6th and 7th st. When I approached the building, I initially almost walked into the detention center (IE: Jail) in the same structure on 7th St because it looked all governmenty. Don’t make that mistake.