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Who's Who in the Court

Who Can Be in the Audience in a Courtroom?

Most court proceedings are open to the public. That means anyone; friends and relatives of the plaintiff or defendant, members of the press, other lawyers, members of the public and even school students may attend them.

Members of the audience have certain obligations however:

They must be quiet and not talk when court is in session;

They must turn off their cell phones.

They are not allowed to chew gum or have food or drinks in the courtroom; they should be courteous and respectful of others in the courtroom.

An officer from the sheriff's department who maintains courtroom order and jury custody. Sometimes also known as a deputy.

What Does a Bailiff Do?

A courtroom bailiff is a sworn peace officer and in the courts in Glenn County is a member of the Glenn County Sheriff's Department. The bailiff's duties are to:

  • Provide security for the courtroom, the judge, the staff and those in attendance;
  • Escort defendants who are in custody and prevent escapes;
  • Assist in the administration of court functions as directed by the judge and the clerk

How Does Someone Become a Bailiff?

A bailiff in the courts in Glenn County is a sworn peace officer with the Glenn County Sheriff's Department. To become a bailiff, a person must first submit an application to the Sheriff's Department Personnel section.

To become a Sheriff's Deputy, one must:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Be a United States citizen;
  • Meet the physical requirements for the position;
  • Pass written and physical agility tests;
  • Be subjected to a background investigation;
  • Successfully complete the required course in the California State Sheriff’s Academy.

The Superior Court of California, County of Glenn is pleased to announce that Ms. Jeri Hamlin has been appointed by the Judges of the counties of Colusa, Glenn, Plumas and Tehama to serve as the Commissioner for these courts.

What Does a Commissioner Do?

Commissioners are appointed by the judges of the Superior Court and exercise all the powers and authorities prescribed by law.* They assist the Court in the prevention of backlog by hearing specific calendars. In the Superior Court of California, County of Glenn, the Commissioner hears all Department of Child Support Services cases and other matters as assigned.

* See Government Code §§72190.1, 72190.2 and California Civil Procedure §259.

What Does a Court Clerk Do?

A court clerk, assists the judge. The clerk’s specific duties are to:

  • Maintain the official record of the court;
  • Be responsible for the clerical courtroom activities;
  • Determine whether cases are ready for hearing or trial;
  • Keep the court calendar and give legal notices;
  • Prepare court minutes, judgments and verdict forms;
  • Assist with impaneling juries and administering oaths;
  • Collect, record and report all fines, bail and other money received in court;
  • Take affidavits and acknowledgments and enters all court proceedings in the Automated Case Management System;
  • Arrange for interpreters, jury panels, files, papers and exhibits;
  • Prepare and issue subpoenas, citations, bench warrants, attachments and, other legal documents that facilitate or execute the actions of the court.

How Does Someone Become a Court Clerk?

To become a court clerk, a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a United States citizen
  • Have a California Driver's License
  • Completion of high school

What Does a Court Executive Do?

The Court Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for Human Resource Management; preparing court budgets; administering accounting, purchasing, payroll, and financial control functions; and guiding the budget through state and local government review processes; Case flow Management, evaluating pending caseloads; developing and implementing systems (both automated and procedural) that support effective calendar management; Technology Management, evaluating opportunities for technologies that expand the capacity of the court system; Information Management, developing the capacity to deliver information to decision makers at critical events; Jury Management, managing the jury system in the most efficient and cost-effective way; Space Management, managing physical space to assure access to all citizens, provide adequate room for work and circulation, and instill public confidence; Intergovernmental Liaison-acting as a liaison to other governmental agencies and departments to promote collaboration, integration of systems, and facilitation of change while maintaining the integrity of the court as a separate but equal branch of government; Community Relations and Public Information, acting as a clearinghouse for the release of information to the media, and the public; collecting and publishing data on pending and completed judicial business and internal functions of the court system; Research and Advisory Services-identifying organizational problems and recommending procedural and administrative changes; Secretariat Services-acting as staff for judicial committees or organizations.

The Relationship of the Court Executive Officer (CEO) to the Bench

Judges and the CEO work in a complex environment. Within that environment, one of the most significant relationships is that between the judges and the CEO. Judges ultimately are responsible for effective administration of the court. Frequently, constitutions and statutes make this duty clear; other times, the duty is implied. In either case, effective administration takes place when the judiciary and the CEO manage the court together. Effective systems of administration provide for the participation of all judges in the development of policy and planning for the court. Through the collaborative efforts of the CEO and the presiding judge, court policy is implemented, monitored, and facilitated.

The CEO serves the dual function of increasing the amount of time a judge has for adjudication and bringing professional management knowledge and capability to the judiciary. In courts where judges lack administrative support they must divide their time between judicial and administrative functions. With mounting caseloads and increased pressure for more case dispositions, judges have little time to direct the day-to-day operations of the court system, plan for the implementation of new technologies, or integrate new procedures that can improve system performance. A court administrator can help the court develop and recommend policies and coordinated work processes that enhance system performance, while maintaining the independence of individual judges. CEOs can also help develop goals for the courts, prepare and execute budgets, recognize changes in caseload or demographics that will affect court operations and funding, manage court personnel and programs for their professional development, improve jury systems and services to the public, implement automated information systems, plan for space requirements, administrate systems for assessing and collecting fees, and establish procedures for handling information requests.

How Does Someone Become A Court Executive Officer

Personal and Professional Skill

A Court Executive Officer (CEO) is selected by a process that includes a majority vote of all the judges in a multi-judge court. In very large urban courts, a selection committee chaired by the presiding judge and representative of the entire bench can select the CEO. The position of Court Executive Officer is the most important non-judicial position in the court; therefore, each judge participates in the hiring process.

The CEO’s needs to posses an ability to analyze problems, formulate recommendations, build consensus, empower people, and foster change are among the attributes of a successful administrator. A successful CEO working in a complex court environment exhibits the following:

  • Learning Skills: Learning to learn is basic to all other skills; court administrators are required to respond quickly, adapt to changes in technologies and workload, and enable the development of appropriate responses to organizational changes.
  • Communication: Speaking, Writing, and Listening Skills: Most of our daily routine is taken up with communication in one form or another. As work processes and procedures are negotiated, monitored, and changed, the ability to communicate clearly is fundamental to success.
  • Adaptability: Problem Solving and Creativity Skills: In any rapidly changing environment, successful CEOs create opportunity and exploit new technologies or create new organizational relationships to overcome barriers to court system goals.
  • Motivation and Goal-setting Skills: The ability to link court system goals and performance measures with work processes and employee reward and staff development programs.
  • Interpersonal Skills: The ability to relate to individuals, both within and outside the court system, through appropriate styles that communicate trust, understanding, and loyalty to court system values.
  • Negotiation Skills: The ability to overcome conflict through problem solving and collaboration strategies that focuses on organizational goals and values as arbiters of conflict and choice.
  • Teamwork Skills: The ability and confidence to empower court system employees and inter-organizational staff to take responsibility for court system goals and performance standards.
  • Leadership Skills: The ability to clearly communicate organizational values that influence others to take individual responsibility for achieving court system values and goals and to instill the confidence to change and adapt as changes in work load, funding, or technology reshape existing work processes or relationships.

Ideally, the CEO will combine the technical skills of a manager with knowledge of public and business administration and an understanding of the duties and the problems peculiar to the courts.

Specifically, the CEO should have completed considerable study of public and business administration or have on-the-job experience in these fields. To this end, many courts require that a court administrator hold a degree in business, public, or judicial administration or be a graduate of the Court Executive Development Program of the Institute for Court Management. In addition, the court administrator should be familiar with courts and government as well as with business organization and operations.

Professional Standards

The Court Executive Officer should have these qualifications:

  • Administrative ability demonstrated by substantial experience in progressively more responsible management positions in government or the private sector;
  • Experience in current business and management techniques, including use and implementation of automated data processing;
  • A demonstrated ability to plan and conduct studies to improve court administration and to prepare recommendations and implement them when approved;
  • Good judgment, understanding, and tact ability to maintain working relationships with other courts and with local, state, and federal government officials, members of the bar, and the public;
  • The ability to conduct conferences and meetings and communicate clearly in writing and speech to employees, the judges of the courts, representatives of government agencies, industry, and the public;
  • Formal training in court administration and managerial experience, in addition to familiarity with court procedures;
  • Creativity, leadership, planning ability, organizational skills, initiative, decisiveness, and dedication to making productive changes in operating methods;
  • High ethical standards;
  • A fundamental understanding of and loyalty to the court's purpose and goals as a separate branch of government;
  • Knowledge of and ability to adapt to the unique court environment;
  • Ability to follow as well as to lead in the implementation of policies created by the judiciary;
  • Respect for the requirements of confidentiality and loyalty when entrusted with the confidence of the judges;
  • Educational qualifications related directly to the functions that the CEO's position requires.

Preferred Qualifications

A graduate degree in judicial administration, public administration, business administration, or law with management training or experience in a court for three or more years with proven competency in administration and management.

Minimum Qualifications

A bachelor's degree in one of the fields named above or three years of experience in a responsible elected or appointed position, with training in court administration.

What Does a Court Reporter Do?

A court reporter, officially known as a certified shorthand reporter, must record everything that is said during official court proceedings. The proceeding might be a trial or a hearing. Rather than using a pencil and paper or a regular word processor that has a full keyboard, the court reporter uses a stenographic machine that has just 22 keys. Using those 22 keys, a court reporter can make symbols on a narrow strip of paper in the stenographic machine to record what is said in court. The stenographic machine has a computer to help convert the symbols into English.

A court reporter must also read out loud in court portions of what he or she has transcribed on the stenographic machine when the judge instructs the court reporter to do so.

A court reporter must also prepare an official written transcript of the proceeding.

How Does Someone Become a Court Reporter?

To become a certified shorthand reporter for the State of California Superior Court, a person must:

  • Learn how to use a stenographic machine and to record what people are saying as they are saying it.
  • Have a high school diploma.
  • Meet a number of academic requirements, such as taking classes in English and medical and legal terminology.
  • Attend a specialized court reporting school.
  • Be able to write down and translate symbols into a typed English format at the rate of 200 words a minute.
  • Pass the state-required test to obtain a Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR) License issued by the Court Reporters Board of California.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I obtain a transcript?

  • A: Call the Court Clerk's Office with the following information: the Date of the Hearing, the name of the case and case number, and the name of the judge. You will be referred to the person who reported the hearing on that date.

Q: How much does a transcript cost?

  • A: The cost varies with the length of the transcript. The rate is set by statute. The court reporter will provide a cost estimate. Upon receipt of payment, the reporter will begin preparation of the transcript.

Q: If we have paid for reporter fees, why don't we get a free transcript?

  • A: That's only to have a reporter present, making a record of the proceedings.

Q: How much do you charge a page?

  • A: We charge by Folio (100 words) not by page.

The District Attorney represents the Commonwealth of California in all criminal cases within its district and is responsible for prosecuting defendants alleged to have committed crimes. The District Attorney, on behalf of the Commonwealth of California, has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime as charged. As a representative of the Commonwealth, the District Attorney will present the victim's interests and concerns to the court.

What Does a Court Interpreter Do?

A court interpreter is a person who is fluent in at least one language other than English for which there is a need in the courts.

  • Translates in the courtroom for non-English speaking parties and witnesses in
    • arraignments,
    • pleas,
    • pre-trial hearings, and
    • trials
  • Interpreters can be assigned to courtrooms in
    • criminal courts,
    • juvenile courts,
    • mental health courts,
    • family law courts,
    • jail interviews,
    • psychological evaluations, and
    • some civil cases
  • Interpreters are also sometimes responsible for translating documents from English into another language or from another language into English.

How Does Someone Become a Court Interpreter?

Generally, interpreters for the courts are not employees of the court the way court clerks and court reporters are. They are independent contractors who are paid only when they are hired for a specific assignment and are paid on a daily, or per diem, basis. Requirements to be a court certified interpreter include:

  • Passing a state certification examination that is in two parts. One part of the exam is oral, the other is written.
  • The candidate must be able to accurately interpret for individuals with a high level of education and an expansive vocabulary as well as for persons with very limited language skills--without changing the language register of the speaker.

More information on becoming an interpreter is available at:

The Superior Court of California, County of Glenn is a unified superior court, served by two judges: Judge Donald Cole Byrd and Judge Alicia Ekland (to be sworn in on 12/3/18). The court is also served by one AB1058 commissioner, one facilitator, and about 20 staff. 

What Does a Judge Do?

When criminal charges are filed by a prosecutor or a civil lawsuit is filed by a litigant, the case is assigned to a courtroom. It is the job of the judge in that courtroom to be in charge of everything that happens to the case.

In every case, the judge must be impartial. That means the judge must be able to be fair to everyone involved in the case. They are called the parties. If the judge thinks there is any reason for the parties to question whether the judge can be fair, the judge must tell the parties about this reason. If there is any reason that the judge might not be able to be impartial, such as the judge is a friend of one of the parties, the judge must withdraw from the case. That is called a recusal.

In a criminal case, the judge schedules an arraignment, at which time the charges that have been filed are explained to the defendant. The defendant may admit to the charges and plead guilty, or the defendant may ask for a trial. There might be a settlement of the case with a plea agreement, also called a plea bargain, in which the prosecutor recommends that the judge impose a sentence that is less than the maximum possible sentence in exchange for the defendant's plea of guilty to the charges; or the defendant might agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge. If case is not settled, it will be set for trial.

In a civil case, the judge will usually meet with the lawyers to see if the case can be resolved or settled without having a trial. In a civil case, the settlement usually involves the payment of money in exchange for voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. If the civil case cannot be settled between the parties, it will be set for trial.

A party may request that the judge make legal rulings about the case before the trial by filing a motion. To make any rulings on a case, the judge must understand the facts and know the laws that apply to the case.

A trial is the time when the parties present evidence to prove their case. In a criminal case, the prosecution must present the evidence to prove the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. In a civil case, the person who filed the case must present the evidence to prove the case.

If a trial is held, the judge is responsible for:

  • Setting the hours of the trial;
  • Keeping order in the courtroom;
  • Presiding over the selection of jurors;
  • Permitting the presentation of evidence through testimony of witnesses or the introduction of exhibits;
  • Deciding on what evidence can be considered by the jurors in making their decision;
  • Explaining the law that applies to the case to the jurors so they can deliberate, and
  • Sentencing the defendant if the defendant is found guilty in a criminal case.

How Does Someone Become a Judge?

There are two ways to become a judge in California. One is to be appointed by the Governor. The other is to run for election.

Qualifications include:

  • Being a lawyer and a member of the State Bar of California.
  • Superior Court judges must have at least 10 years of experience.
  • A lawyer who seeks an appointment from the Governor must fill out an application. The Governor's staff reviews the application. Most successful candidates also submit letters of support from friends, including other lawyers, judges, law school professors, and others who know about the candidate’s qualifications.
  • If the Governor’s office thinks the applicant has sufficient merit, the State Bar of California Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation is asked to review the candidate's application. The commission solicits additional information and recommendations from other lawyers and judges who know the applicant.
  • If the applicant receives a high rating, the Governor’s staff will submit the application to the Governor, who then decides whether to grant the appointment.
  • A lawyer may also seek a judicial appointment by running for election. They may run against a current judge, or they may run for an open office.
  • Candidates for judicial election are usually evaluated by a committee of the local bar association. The bar association will rate the candidate and inform the voters before the election.
  • The term of office for a trial judge in California is six years.

What Does a Lawyer Do?

Lawyers operate in a wide variety of capacities such as providing legal counsel to governments, corporations and to individuals in a wide variety of situations. In a courtroom, however, the lawyer’s role is narrowed to a more specific purpose.

Generally, there are two sides in a courtroom proceeding. One side, called the plaintiff, who is seeking a remedy for an injury or to a violation of rights. The plaintiff is also called the complainant. A plaintiff can be government, a corporation, a group of people or a single individual.

The other side is the defendant, who is accused of causing an injury or of violating the plaintiff’s rights. The defendant is also called the respondent.

A plaintiff’s lawyer, who is also called an attorney, works for the plaintiff and explains to a judge what happened between the plaintiff and the defendant and why it happened. The attorney for the plaintiff wants the judge to find that what happened was not legal and that something should be done to fix it.

A defendant’s attorney, who works for the defendant, also explains to the judge what happened between the plaintiff and the defendant and why it happened. The attorney for the defendant wants the judge to find that what happened was legal. The defendant can be government, a corporation, a group of people or a single individual.

How Does Someone Become a Lawyer?

The requirements for becoming a lawyer include:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and completing a law school program, and
  • Passing a statewide examination called the bar.

The Public Defender is a law office established and funded by the County of Glenn. The functions of the office are defined by the county charter and by California state law. The attorneys and other staff employed by the office render legal services to individuals who are accused of public offenses, and who cannot afford to retain the services of a private attorney. They also represent any person under the age of 18 who is facing juvenile delinquency proceedings, or regarding whom the state has instituted wardship proceedings because of habitual truancy or incorrigibility. The public defender represents individuals who are involuntarily detained in medical facilities in a variety of mental health proceedings because of purported mental disabilities, those as to whom conservatorship proceedings have been instituted because they are alleged to be gravely disabled, and patients whose competency to refuse medical treatment is challenged. Finally, the public defender's office represents individuals who are subject to contempt proceedings for violation of court orders, such as child support and child visitation or custody orders. (More detail regarding the functions can be found in the frequently asked questions.)

The attorney’s role in the public defender's office is identical to that of a privately retained attorney. Deputy Public Defenders are all members of the State Bar, and are governed by the same regulations and ethical obligations, which pertain to a privately retained attorney.

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