California Supreme Court and San Diego County Appellate Court Briefs Collection, 1891-1951
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Brief Description:

The collection consists of California Supreme Court and San Diego Appellate Court documents from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The documents include filings of court transcripts, the opening briefs of appellants and respondents, as well as reply briefs.  The court cases housed in the collection deal with a broad range of topics including bankruptcy, corporations, criminal law, divorce, drunk driving, labor, probate law, railroads, automobile accidents, mining and water.  There are also important cases dealing with the cities of Escondido, Coronado, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Pacific Beach, Spring Valley and National City.

Some important San Diegans that appear in the court documents are Ed Fletcher, Katherine Tingley, John D. Spreckels, H.H. Timken, Julius Wangenheim, Cave J. Couts, Fred Sutherland, Henry Schumann-Heink, Samuel T. Black and F.T. Scripps.

There are some cases of historical significance which illustrate the growth and development of San Diego in the early twentieth century.  For example, there are three cases related to the appropriation of Pueblo lands toward the creation of Balboa Park (Case numbers 7742, 9275, 10246).  In addition to these, a number of cases related to railroad companies (including the San Diego Electric Railway Company) and water and utility companies illustrate the transportation needs and infrastructure demands as the city and county of San Diego continued to grow.  Of these, two extensive court cases in the collection, The City of San Diego vs. The Cuyamaca Water Company (18417) and Rancho Santa Margarita vs.Margaret R. Vail, N.R. Vail, Mary Vail Wilkinson, Mahlon Vail, Wm. Banning Vail…as Trustees of Said Vail Company (26063) are particularly good examples which demonstrate the struggle for land and water rights in Southern California.

The collection also contains cases which demonstrate social conditions and struggles of the era, including the admission of Native Americans into the Pauma School District (Case number 4396), and the effects of the Alien Land Act on Japanese (23164).  Other cases provide evidence of Chinese agricultural labor in the Escondido area (15267) and the issues associated with squatters on Native American lands (17735).

A number of San Diego area corporations and businesses are also represented in the collection. These cases can be helpful to any researcher examining the economic growth of the region through bankruptcy, consolidations and mergers, embezzlement, taxes, and labor relations.  A variety of different banks and insurance companies are represented, as well as the Van Camp Sea Food Company, Yellow Cab Company, Spreckels Commercial Company, Standard Oil Company, and the Coronado Beach Company.

While most of the cases represented in the collection are civil suits, there are some criminal cases as well.  These include drunk driving (Case number 21230), arson (18860), and medical malpractice (26320).  There are also three cases dealing explicitly with sex crimes, including child molestation (23444), statutory rape (23445), and the prosecution of homosexual men in the military (25174).

There are two sets of card indices located at the end of the collection in Boxes 44 & 45.  These cards list cases both topically and by plaintiff name.  Some of these cards are cross-referenced, so if you wanted to look up a case regarding a water corporation, it may be found under the headings for "water" and "corporations."

Held at:
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA 92182 8050
Phone: 619-594-6791
Email: askscua [at]
Volume: 56.25 Linear Feet
Acquired: late 1970s
Arrangement: The collection is arranged in ascending numerical case number order.  These numbers were retained from the internal filing system of the San Diego County Law Library.
Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.
Subject Index
California. Court of Appeal. Appellate District, 4th. Division 1--Archives
California. Supreme Court--Archives
Justice, Administration of--California--Imperial County--Sources
Justice, Administration of--California--San Diego County--Sources
Justice, Administration of--California--Sources
Legal briefs--California
Legal briefs--California--Imperial County
Legal briefs--California--San Diego County
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Acquisition Notes: San Diego County Law Library
PreferredCitation: Identification of item, folder title, box number,California Supreme Court and San Diego County Appellate Court Briefs Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.