Welcome to the Superior Court of El Dorado County.

To preserve and enhance the rule of law in El Dorado County by providing all persons a fair, efficient, and accessible forum for resolving disputes, protecting public safety, and righting wrongs.

In Memory of Judge Terrence Finney

The memorial for Judge Finney will be held on Friday, January 4th, 2019 from 2-5 p.m. in Dept. 3. Of the South Lake Tahoe courthouse. If you are able to attend and would like to speak at the memorial service, please contact Derinda Lambie at dlambie@eldoradocourt.org or 530-573-3064.

Judge Finney
Photo by Mountain News.

South Lake Tahoe’s first superior court judge, Honorable Terrence M. Finney, passed away on November 7, 2018 at the age of 84.

After graduating from Willamette College of Law in 1962, he and his bride Lenore moved to her native El Dorado County in 1963 where her parents still lived. Judge Finney was hired as an investigator at the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, then worked as a deputy district attorney from 1964 to 1970, when he was elected District Attorney of El Dorado County. While in the district attorney's office he successfully prosecuted a no-body-ever-located case (a mother and a child in Coloma), and several other murder cases, including death penalty cases, which serve as legal precedent under California law.

In 1977, Governor Jerry Brown, during his first term in office, appointed Judge Finney to the new South Lake Tahoe branch of the Superior Court in El Dorado County. He served for 20 years before retiring from his full time position on the bench in 1997, continuing to sit on assignment as a visiting judge and also as a private mediator and arbitrator for many years.

Judge Finney was so well regarded that the Judicial Council sought him out for some complex criminal case assignments throughout the years. However, the biggest case of his career, and, one of his favorites, was the renowned Mono Lake case, to which he was assigned by the chief justice of the California Supreme Court. In the 1980s, several environmental and outdoor groups including the Audubon Society, and the California Department of Fish and Game, filed suit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, who had diverted four of the five streams feeding Mono Lake to send it to their customers. This diversion by the LADWP was detrimental to the lake, its ecosystem, and resulted in the destruction of fish, bird, and other wildlife habitat.

The case went on for several years, and in a landmark decision, Finney ruled against the LADWP and mandated the diversions stop and the lake be returned to a healthy state. He spent a decade overseeing the process, ensuring the compliance and the ecological restoration. The losing party appealed, but Judge Finney’s ruling stood. Mono Lake’s status as a natural treasure has been preserved due to his courageous decision.

Judge Finney was so respected and well liked, that many of the attorneys who practiced before him remained in contact with him throughout the years, attending his retirement, and visiting with him this year when they learned he was so ill. He was so revered that on August 22, 2018 the Judicial Council of California recognized his many years of dedicated service to the citizens of El Dorado County and throughout Northern California where he sat on assignment in retirement.

There will be a public memorial service at the South Lake Tahoe courthouse in the near future.

Info By Division

Appeals Division

The Appeals Division is responsible for the filing of all appeals in civil, family law, adoption, probate, conservatorship, guardianship, juvenile dependency, juvenile delinquency, felony, misdemeanor, traffic and eviction cases.

Civil Division

The Civil Division of the court handles cases where one party sues another to recover money or property, enforce a contract, collect damages, or protect civil rights. Petitions to change names and various writs are also handled by the Civil Division.

Criminal Division

The Criminal Division has jurisdiction over felonies, misdemeanors, infractions.

Family Law Division

The Family Law Division hears matters involving family-related issues and domestic relations.

Jury Division

Information for both civil and criminal cases where the parties have elected to have a jury of their peers decide the case.

Juvenile Division

Juvenile Delinquency cases involve any persons under the age of 18 (minors) who are accused of violations of any law of the state or minors who are habitually truant.

Probate Division

Probate and conservatorship matters address a person’s finances upon death or the care of an adult person that is unable to care for themselves or their finances.

Small Claims Division

Small claims cases are lawsuits that do not exceed $10,000 and are resolved quickly and inexpensively with relatively simple and informal rules. Some local municipal ordinances, infractions, and minor misdemeanors.

Collaborative Courts

El Dorado County offers Collaborative courts which provide tools, treatments, and monitoring. The courts address drug-related offenses, alcohol abuse, juvenile drug/alcohol abuse, and mental illnesses.

Traffic Division

The Traffic Division has jurisdiction over Vehicle Code violations.


Placerville Main Street Branch
Dept. 1, Dept. 2, Dept. 5, Dept. 6
495 Main Street
Placerville, CA 95667

Placerville Building C Branch
Dept. 7
2850 Fairlane Court, Bldg C
Placerville, CA 95667

Placerville Fair Lane Branch
Dept. 8
295 Fair Lane
Placerville, CA 95667

Cameron Park Branch
Dept. 9, Dept. 10
3321 Cameron Park Drive
Cameron Park, CA 95682

South Lake Tahoe
Dept. 3, Dept. 4, Dept. 11, Dept. 12
1354 Johnson Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

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