A Look Back
In 1867, Fresno County's first one-story courthouse was built in the town of Millerton at a cost of $24,000. When the area was later devastated by a flood, the seat of county government was moved to its present location in 1874. The second Fresno County courthouse was completed in August 1875 at a cost of $56,000 and was three stories tall. The building's two courtrooms were located on the second floor with ceilings that reached 22 feet. Samuel Ash Holmes was then appointed the first Fresno Superior Court judge in 1879.
In 1893, a new copper dome was erected on the courthouse and two wings were added. On the evening of July 29, 1895, streams of molten copper flowed from the huge dome as a fire gutted the central portion of the building. Within the year, the damages were repaired and a more modest dome replaced the copper one destroyed by the fire. The second courthouse was eventually torn down and the present day courthouse completed in 1966.
In June 1998, the California electorate approved constitutional amendments permitting superior and municipal courts to fully unify. The judges in Fresno County agreed to unify all courts into the Superior Court of Fresno County effective July 1, 1998, abolishing the municipal courts.
The Court Today
The Fresno Superior Court currently has 43 judges, six commissioners, and approximately 430 employees. In addition to the main courthouse that houses the criminal and juvenile dependency courts, other facilities include the B.F. Sisk Courthouse for civil, probate, family law, family support, and self-help matters; the traffic division at the M Street Courthouse; two criminal courts located in the main jail annex; and the juvenile delinquency courthouse on American Avenue just west of Highway 99.