There are currently 3 Family Law Courtrooms at the Pomona courthouse. Judge Sarah Heidel sits in Department B, Commissioner Don Christian sits in Department C and Judge Wesley Hsu sits in Department D. In prior years, a litigants case was assigned to one of these departments by case number. When a new case is opened, the parties are assigned a case number. The new case number system in Pomona starts with the year the case was opened followed by “PSFL” (which stands for Pomona South Family Law”) or “PSPT” (which stands for Pomona South Paternity) followed by 5 numbers. For example, 19PSFL01234 would be the 1,234 dissolution case filed at the Pomona courthouse located in 2019. Assignment by case number is no longer done and cases are randomly assigned by the filing clerk based on the number of cases assigned to each court (with the general presumption that cases will be equally distributed over time). When you file, you will be assigned one of the judicial officer set forth above. IF, for whatever reason, you do not like the judicial officer that your case is assigned to, you have the following options:
Judge: If the case is assigned to a Judge (currently Department B or D), you have 10 (ten) days from the date of the assignment (if Petitioner) or 10 (ten) days from the notice of being served with the summons (if the Respondent) to object to the particular Judge. You must file a CCP 170.6 Peremptory Challenge with the clerk’s office and your case will be assigned to another Judge or Commissioner. Keep in mind, that you may be assigned to a Judge or Commissioner in another Courtroom located in Los Angeles County. That is, you may end up in Whittier, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Lancaster etc. so proceed with caution. In addition, if you miss the 10 day window, your request will be denied. Each litigant is limited to one Peremptory challenge. That is, if you are assigned to a new Judge who appears to be even worse then the 1st Judge, you may not file a Peremptory Challenge against the Judge. If you file both a Request for Orders and a Peremptory Challenge at the same time, it is possible that your case will be delayed as the new re-assigned family law department may not have the same availability as the Judge the case was initially assigned to.
Commissioner: If the case is assigned to a Commissioner (currently Department C), you may either file a Non-Stipulation to Commissioner with the Court Clerk at any time. You may also appear on the day of your first hearing (usually a Request for Orders or a Trial Setting Conference) and refuse to sign the Stipulation to Commissioner form. Keep in mind that your case will be assigned to another Family Law Department. If the case is assigned to another Commissioner, you may simply repeat the non-stipulation process. However, if your case is assigned to a Judge, you may be stuck unless you file a Peremptory Challenge. As with the admonition above, if you wait until the day of the hearing to not stipulate to the Commissioner, you may end up in another department in the same courthouse or somewhere else in Los Angeles County and your hearing will likely be delayed.
For all judicial officers, it is best to object to the assignment as early as possible in the case.
If you need assistance in the selection of a judicial officer at the Pomona courthouse or any other Courthouse, contact the Law Offices of Paul Eads today.