Issues unique to San Jose Hall of Justice Court

Hall of Justice in San Jose

Cases at the San Jose Hall of Justice

As DUI defense and criminal defense attorneys based in San Jose, we have an intimate understanding with DUI cases at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. This office appears at the Hall of Justice (also known as “the HOJ”) at least a few times per month. 

Get to court 60 minutes early. It is probably best to point out the painfully obvious: the Hall of Justice in San Jose has 13 different court rooms going at the same time, and ONE operational metal detector.  Not surprisingly, the result is a line without shade or shelter that goes all the way to Hedding Street. No doubt, this is due to the ongoing court budget cutbacks.  However, judges are generally not interested in when you get to the line – they are only interested in when you get to their department.

The elevator is not an option if you have a misdemeanor charge. The misdemeanor departments are on the North end of the courthouse arranged with four court rooms per floor on five floors with only ONE court room on the first floor.  While there are two elevators that service the misdemeanor wing of the courthouse, only one is available to the public.  The stairs are located to the right of the elevators.  Walking up four flights of stairs is great cardio for defense counsel.

Know your line number before you walk in. There is usually a list of cases on a bulletin board (commonly referred to as a “calendar”) next to the door of the court room.  Find your name on the list, and remember the number as you walk in the court room.

Check in with the bailiff when you get to your department. Be polite, but be brief.  Your interaction with the bailiff should go like this: “Good afternoon.  Line 8, checking in.”  Then find a seat, take off your hat and sunglasses, turn your phone off, and relax.

Forms, forms, forms.  The Hall of Justice is no stranger to paperwork.  Your attorney will come in handy when it’s time to fill out forms like change of plea forms, DUI plea forms, Wet reckless forms, etc.  The clerk also hands out “minute orders” that reflect what happened in court that day.  It takes a trained eye to ensure that these forms are accurate.  If the order needs revision, your attorney will have your case recalled and the minute order fixed.  

The Hall of Justice calendars can be long, so it’s best to plan on being there for at least four hours.  Pretrial conferences are often heard at the bench with the judge individually. Generally, there are no conferences in judge’s chambers.  When time permits, there may be some discussion with the DA at the prosecutor’s table.  Santa Clara judges are generally “middle of the road” – not as harsh as judges in San Benito County or Contra Costa County, and not as lenient as San Francisco County.