King City Courthouse is located at 250 Franciscan Way. (File Photo)

KING CITY — Monterey County Superior Court has announced the reopening of the King City Courthouse after nearly eight years, with traffic court arraignments beginning July 13.

The courthouse at 250 Franciscan Way will once again provide court services to the community of South Monterey County. The court has already begun offering Self-Help Center (SHC) services to the public on both an appointment and walk-in basis, with the office operating on the second Tuesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

King City Courthouse formerly heard criminal cases before it was closed in September 2013 due to resource constraints during the Great Recession.

“We are excited to be reopening the King City Courthouse and providing these important services to the South County community in a location that is convenient and accessible,” said Julie Culver, presiding judge. “Returning to the King City Courthouse has been a project that has had the input and support of all of the judges. We are grateful for the collaboration between Monterey County and the Judicial Council that allowed rehabilitation of this facility and this reopening to occur. The Superior Court looks forward to increasing services in the future.”

Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez said the reopening is a first step toward providing “critically important” services to South Monterey County. He noted there has been indication by judges that services may increase based on community utilization of the reopened facility.

“Having that access here in the community without having to make the adjustments in somebody’s life to get up to either Salinas or Monterey to take care of a ticket or file a restraining order, that’s fair,” Lopez said. “It’s not even a question of what is desired. It’s how things should be.”

The expansion of SHC services to King City will provide greater access for South Monterey County residents who are acting as self-represented litigants and need assistance with family law and other civil case document preparation. It also offers a more convenient location rather than traveling up to 100 miles round-trip to access in-person document preparation assistance.

“There’s parts of Monterey County that are even further south,” Lopez said. “Think about Parkfield, Bradley, Lockwood. Those round-trips are half a day spent on the road.”

He added that such long trips could cause burdens for individuals who have to find childcare and take time off from work in order to get their court business taken care of.

The geographical center of Monterey County is in Greenfield, where a new courthouse had been proposed, but that project was suspended last year due to state budget restraints. Reopening the King City Courthouse was the next best option, as the city is just 10 miles south of that center.

“Having it near the center of our geographic distance … now makes that a reality, even if it’s on a limited basis,” Lopez said.

SHC services in King City will mirror the services that continue to be provided at the Monterey and Salinas courthouses, where legal and support staff effectively guide self-represented litigants with document preparation and review.

Assistance is available with divorce, nullity, legal separation, limited civil cases, guardianships, name changes, emancipation, landlord/tenant, stepparent adoptions, limited conservatorships and domestic violence and civil harassment restraining orders. All locations provide assistance in both English and Spanish. Bilingual SHC services are also available remotely.

Lopez said the use of the courthouse services would make a strong case for future investment by the court system in South Monterey County, including the possibility of building a new courthouse in Greenfield.

After being closed for eight years, the King City Courthouse building suffered water damage that needed repair, which took a partnership between the court system and the county to get the courthouse back in operational shape.

“I’ve walked the building, and you can’t even tell the damage was there before,” Lopez said.

Starting July 13, the court will initiate a limited, pre-set traffic arraignment calendar and traffic counter services, also on the second Tuesday of the month.

Court customers who would like to take care of a traffic matter in response to a courtesy notice, and whose due date has not passed, may appear in King City on those dates. Those who wish to appear in court for arraignment may be eligible to have cases set on this calendar.

In addition, a traffic clerk will be on site to provide services.

Future service expansion plans include additional SHC and traffic service days each month, the ability to file restraining orders and eventually hearing Small Claims cases, and Family and Probate (Guardianship and Conservatorship) cases by remote video.

For information about the King City Courthouse services, call 831-647-5800 ext. 3005.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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