Here is something to remember if you are going to the courthouse to review files.
IT IS A FELONY TO REMOVE ANY DOCUMENTS FROM A FILE.
When you take out a case file for review in Sacramento County the clerks will generally tell that you cannot remove anything from the file. There will also be signs posted in viewing areas. Most often I see people taking apart a file at the copying machines while the sign looms directly in front of them. Don’t do it!
The court doesn’t want you to mess up the files and those of us who regularly go through files don’t want you to either. The reason is that was don’t want things to end up missing or to be put back in the wrong order. Generally, documents are entered into the files in chronological order. In some cases, certain types of documents are placed on one side in particular (Law & Motion documents for example. If the documents are out-of-order when you put them back in, it can really mess up an accurate review of the contents and make life more difficult for anyone who gets the file next.
In addition, files may have sealed documents. You cannot open the sealed envelopes, even if you are a party to the case. (I have held them up to the light in the hope that I might glimpse something really useful, but that has yet to work.)
If you are having trouble figuring out how to make copies, ask a clerk or a bike messenger. Anyone standing behind you at the copiers who searches through files as part of their job will be glad to instruct you. The sooner you get your business sorted out, the sooner we can take care of what we are there to do.
In the event that a document is loose and falls out of a file, just let the clerk know when you return it. It happens and they appreciate the opportunity to fix it up.
From all of us who do this sort of thing for a living, thank you.