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Hours and Locations

Law Library
Hall of Justice, Third Floor (Room 300)
600 Union Avenue
Fairfield, CA 94533


Holiday Schedule

Solano County Law Library
The Law Library is open to the public, and provides access to books and electronic resources that help people research their legal questions. The collection includes basic and specialized legal materials that address California and federal case law, civil law, criminal law, family law, and other legal areas. During operating hours, staff can assist customers with their research. Customers may even print or photocopy materials for a cost. Law Library staff does not give legal advice.

If the Law Library is closed, the public can still find self-help resources on the internet. If you are representing yourself, explore our listing of legal self-help links and legal self-help videos. Also, the Solano County Library branches possess Nolo Press books that have information on legal procedures and forms. Please call 1-866-57ASKUS to find out what the library closest to you has.

Ask the Law Librarian @ Solano County

Special Collections

The Law Library has many resources to offer its customers. Everyone may visit Solano County Law Library. Although checkout is restricted to attorneys and judges, subject to copyright laws, the public may photocopy limited information from our books. The collection encompasses all aspects of California (civil, family, criminal, etc.) and federal (U.S.C.A., etc.) law. Statutory law books and practice titles are available. There are materials especially for the public, such as the Nolo Press series.

You can always call the Law Library at (707) 421-6520 for more details. Or you can explore the catalog for other Nolo and law-related titles available at the Law Library and Solano County Library.

Online services

Solano County Law Library subscribes to several databases, making the attainment of legal information cost-effective for legal professionals and the public. All the databases below are free to use when visiting the Law Library.

  • CEB OnLAW—provides electronic access to Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) titles; chapters from over 140 books (Available only at Solano County Law Library)
  • Legal Information Reference Center (NOLO Press)—Access 100+ Nolo Press titles online. Subject matter includes family law, real estate law, and other legal topics. You can download and email chapters and forms at no cost. (Available at Solano County Law Library and Solano County Library)
  • LexisNexis —contains California and federal case/statutory laws; access to more than 200 form templates. (Available only at Solano County Law Library)
  • VerdictSearch—online version of a publication; spotlights specific cases and the monetary amounts that were requested. (Available only at Solano County Law Library)
  • Westlaw (Free Access)—contains California and federal case/statutory laws; chapters from over 50 legal books; articles from over 100 law reviews. (Available only at Solano County Law Library)

If you have not used the databases listed above, Law Library staff members can show you how. We can also direct you to legal self-help links  and foreclosure assistance or within the community.


  • The RecorderDaily Journal, law reviews from prestigious law schools, and California Lawyer.

Conference Room

The Law Library has a conference room available for public use. Please read our booking details before calling to make a reservation.

Finding Attorneys and Legal Professionals

According to California Business & Professions Code §6125, you may not practice law in California unless you are an active member of the California State Bar. Unfortunately, despite the statute, there are still individuals who fraudulently pose as attorneys or other legal professionals. Even if you have hired someone, it would not hurt to double-check their credentials. Visit the State Bar of California to ensure that you are indeed working with an attorney who is registered to practice law. Visit the Treasurer-Tax Collector-County Clerk’s office to determine if a legal document assistant, unlawful detainer assistant or paralegal is registered to provide services in Solano County. If you have been a victim of someone unlawfully practicing law, visit the State Bar of California and Solano County District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Crimes Unit for more information.

All devices are color printers/copiers with scanning function (can scan to USB flash drive and/or print from USB)

Each branch has one printer/copier that accepts credit cards (Visa, MC, AMEX, Disc), Apple Pay and Android Pay.


Black & white print/copy – 25 cents per page

Color print/copy – 50 cents per page

Scan to USB – free


  • 6 public computers with printers attached (all provide internet access); not reservable.
  • Wi-Fi is available (ask staff for details)
  • State-of-the-art photocopier
  • FAX machine
    • Send a Fax
      • $1 per page for “707” and “1-800” numbers, $2 per page for long distance
    • Receive a Fax
      • $1.60 per page
  • Dissomaster terminal—allows customers to calculate child or spousal support. Printouts are free at this terminal only.


Customers may use the Hall of Justice elevators to reach our library. The Branch has an adaptive keyboard and optical trackball available.  We possess magnifying tools, and some reading glasses. Please ask library staff for more information.

Branch History

Solano County Law Library has been in existence since 1891. As established by California Business and Professions Code §6340, a county law library must be located in the county seat. Since the 1970s, the Law Library has been located on the third floor of the Hall of Justice. We are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Get assistance with legal research by filling out our form or calling the law library at (707) 421-6520.

You can interact with the Solano County Law Library via social media!

Nolo Press Titles Available at the Law Library

101 Law Forms for Personal Use
8 Ways to Avoid Probate
Building a Parenting Agreement That Works
Business Loans From Family & Friends
California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions
California Landlord’s Law Book: Rights & Responsibilities
California Marriage Laws
California Power of Attorney Handbook
California Tenants’ Rights
California Workers’ Comp
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Complete Guide to Buying a Business
Conservatorship Book for California
Contractors’ & Homeowners’ Guide to Mechanics Liens
Contracts: The Essential Desk Reference
Copyright Handbook
Copyright Your Software
Credit Repair
Criminal Law Handbook
Deeds for California Real Estate
Divorce & Money
Divorce Without Court
Do Your Own Adoption
Employer’s Legal Handbook
Essential Guide to Family & Medical Leave
Essential Guide to Federal Employment Laws
Estate Planning for Blended Families
Every Dog’s Legal Guide
Every Nonprofit’s Guide to Publishing
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California
Executor’s Guide
Fight Your Ticket & Win in California
Foreclosure Survival Guide
Form a Partnership
Guardianship Book for California
Homestead Your House
How to Do Your Own Divorce in California
How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation in California
How to Form Your Own California Corporation
How to Manage a Contested Divorce in California
How to Probate an Estate in California
How to Raise or Lower Child Support in California
How to Seal Your Juvenile and Criminal Records in California
How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim
Independent Paralegal’s Handbook
Judge’s Guide to Divorce
Lawsuit Survival Guide
Leases & Rental Agreements
Legal Essentials for California Couples
Legal Forms for Starting and Running a Small Business
Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples
Legal Guide for Starting and Running a Small Business
Legal Guide to Web & Software Development
Legal Research
Living Together: A Guide for Unmarried Couples
Living Wills & Powers of Attorney for California
Long-Term Care
Mad At Your Lawyer
Make Any Divorce Better!
Make Your Own Living Trust
Mediate, Don’t Litigate
Music Law
Neighbor Law
New Bankruptcy
Nolo’s Depostion Handbook
Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law
Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce
Nolo’s Essential Retirement Tax Guide
Nolo’s Guide to California Law
Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability
Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Nolo’s Pocket Guide to Consumer’s Rights
Nolo’s Pocket Guide to Family & Divorce Law
Nolo’s Simple Will Book
Nondisclosure Agreements
Patent, Copyright & Trademark
Plan Your Estate
Prenuptial Agreements
Public Domain
Quick & Legal Will Book
Renter’s Rights: The Basics
Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods
Save Your Small Business
Sexual Harassment on the Job
Social Security, Medicare & Government Pensions
Solve Your Money Troubles
Special Needs Trusts
Stand Up to the IRS
Stopping Identity Theft
Trustee’s Legal Companion
U.S. Immigration Made Easy
Using Divorce Mediation
Win Your Lawsuit
Your Little Legal Companion
Your Rights in the Workplace

Online Legal Resources

Legal Sources on the Internet

Legal Self-Help Resources

Victims’ Rights (including COVID-19)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021
Crime Victim Assistance (Solano County)
Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services (California Department of Corrections)
COVID-19 Resources for Legal Services and Victims’ Rights (National Crime Victim Law Institute)
Coronavirus Response (COVID-19 Fraud) (U.S. Department of Justice)
Victims of Crime Resource Center (UOP, McGeorge School of Law)
Housing Discrimination (211-Solano County)


Bankruptcy Guide (U.S. Courts)
Information & Forms (Ch. 7, Ch. 11, et. al.)

Civil Law

Civil Disputes
Cases for $25,000 or Less (California Courts)
Cases for $25,000 or More (California Courts)
Civil Forms—Solano County Superior Court’s Local Forms
Answering a Civil Complaint for Breach of Contract (San Mateo County Law Library)
Answering a Civil Complaint for Personal Injury, Property Damage or Wrongful Death (San Mateo County Law Library)
“Equal Access Project” Guides
Peremptory Challenge / “Removing a Judge from Your Case” (SCPLL guides)
Requesting an Extension or Continuance (Civil; SCPLL guides)
Requesting a Continuance (Civil; San Mateo County Law Library)
Requesting an Extension or Continuance (Small Claims)
How to Fight a Credit Card Debt Collection Lawsuit
Filing a Writ of Administrative Mandamus (San Mateo County Law Library)
How to Subpoena Business Records (San Mateo County Law Library)

Civil Appeals ($25,000 or less; California Courts)
Civil Appeals ($25,000 or more; California Courts)
Collecting/Paying/Appealing Judgment (Small Claims)
Collecting a Civil Judgment ($25,000 or less; California Courts)
Collecting a Civil Judgment ($25,000 or more; California Courts)
Enforcing a Civil Judgment (SCPLL guides)
Vacate a Default Judgment (San Mateo County Law Library)

Name Change
Gender Change Only / Gender and Name Change

Personal Injury
“Equal Access Center” Guides
Demand Letter (California Courts)

Small Claims
Information & Forms
Self-Help Videos
Small Claims Forms—Solano County Superior Court’s Local Forms
“Using the Small Claims Court” (California Dept. of Consumer Affairs)

Conservatorship, Guardianship & Power of Attorney

Categories & Forms
“Handbook for Conservators”

Categories & Forms
Probate Forms (e.g., Declaration of Due Diligence)—Solano County Superior Court’s Local Forms
Self-Help Video

Power of Attorney
Information (Nolo Press site)

Court Cases

Federal Cases
PACER (must have account)
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. District Courts (California & Other Locations)

State Cases (Appellate/Supreme Court)
California Court of Appeals
California Supreme Court
Published/Unpublished Opinions

Local Cases (e.g., Solano)
Solano County Superior Court—Court Connect
Other California Superior Courts

Criminal Law/Traffic (Infractions)

Appeal Process
Certificate of Rehabilitation and Pardon
Criminal Forms/Juvenile Delinquency Forms—Solano County Superior Court’s Local Forms
Expungement Guide (“Clean Your Criminal Record”-Public Defender, Solano)
Expungement Guide (“Clean Your Criminal Record”-SCPLL) Review the guide carefully, as it features local forms for Sacramento. The samples & instructions might not fully correspond with CR-180 & CR-181.
Expungement Guide (San Mateo County Law Library)
How to Replace an Attorney in a Criminal Case (Marsden/Faretta Motion; San Mateo County Law Library)
Juvenile Delinquency
“Parolee Rights Manual
“Prison Law Office” Manuals
Request for Criminal Record (California Dept. of Justice)
Restitution / Victim’s Rights (Information & Forms)
State Habeas Corpus / Federal Habeas Corpus

Appeals Process
Ex-Parte Application to Dismiss Non-Felony Citations (VC §41500 Motion)
General Information on Traffic Law
Traffic Forms—Solano County Superior Court’s Local Forms
Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules (via Solano’s Traffic Division)

Evictions/Real Estate

Assessor/Recorder Forms—Solano County

Evictions (Unlawful Detainer)
Guide for Landlords
Guide for Tenants
Stay of Eviction (Tenants; Solano’s UD Clinic)
Video: “Resolving Your Eviction Case in the California Courts


Information & Forms

Family Law – Children & Adoption


Child Custody / Visitation
Grandparent Visitation
Grandparent Visitation—Petitions (FCLL)
Online Orientation for CCRC (Parent Orientation/Education—Solano)
Obtain Custody

Emancipation of Minor
Information & Forms

Juvenile Immigration Law
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Juvenile Dependency
Information & Forms
Video:  “Juvenile Dependency Court Orientation”

Peremptory Challenge
Peremptory Challenge / “Removing a Judge from Your Case” (SCPLL guides)

Family Law – Partnership & Divorce

Information & Forms

Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage), etc.
Information and Forms
Summary Dissolution

Domestic Partnership
California Secretary of State Information

Legal Separation
Information & Forms

Name Change
Divorce / Marriage

Peremptory Challenge
Peremptory Challenge / “Removing a Judge from Your Case” (SCPLL guides)

Spousal Support
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

Fee Waiver

Fee Waiver
Information & Forms
“Ask the Court to Waive or Lower Court Fees” (SCPLL guides)

Laws & Regulations

Federal Law and Court Rules
Code of Federal Regulations
Federal Rules (Civil Procedure, et. al.)
United States Codes
Requesting an Apostille

California Law, Jury Instructions, and Court Rules
California Codes
California Code of Regulations
California Jury Instructions (Civil, Criminal)
California Rules of Court

Immigration Law
Legal Services Resources for Immigrants: Solano County
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Provides Protections for Immigrant Women and Victims of Crime (American Immigration Council)
Family Preparedness Plan” (ILRC brochure)
Immigration Advocates Network
Immigration Resource Directory (California Courts website)
Immigration Services Fraud” (OAG brochure)
Web Resources (AILA webpage)

Local Law (County / Municipal Codes) and Court Rules
City of Benicia
City of Dixon
City of Fairfield
City of Rio Vista
City of Suisun
City of Vacaville
City of Vallejo
Solano County Code
Solano County Local Rules of Court

Restraining Orders

Restraining Orders
Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault (Solano County)
Resource Guide for Family Violence Victims (Solano County)
Civil Harassment
Requesting a Civil Harassment Restraining Order  (San Mateo County Law Library)
Domestic Violence (Information & Forms)
Domestic Violence (Self-Help Videos; Petitioner)
Domestic Violence (Self-Help Videos; Respondent)
Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse
Injunction (Restraining Order) Against DMV
Victim Assistance
Workplace Violence

Wills & Estates

Wills and Estates
Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property (Small Estate Affidavit)
Living Trust (State Bar of California)
Transferring Property without Probate (Form Content)
Will Form (State Bar of California)

Legal Assistance: Free or Low-Cost Services

Representing yourself? Visit the Law Library for information or click below for our Legal Assistance, Low Cost Services brochure.

Legal Assistance, Low Cost Services

Ask the Law Librarian @ Solano County


Corte Local

Formularios de la Corte

Glossario Legal en Español

Quejas Contra Abogados




Disputas Civiles



Cambio de nombre

Daños corporales

Reclamos menores


Tutela de adultos

Tutela de un menor

Poder legal






Desalojo (Retención ilícita de vivienda)

Ejecución hipotecaria




Custodia y visitación


La Ley de Inmigración de Menores

Dependencia de menores



Divorcio (Disolución del matrimonio), etc.

Parejas de Hecho (Disolución)

Separación legal

Cambio de nombre

Manutención del cónyuge o pareja de hecho


Exención de cuotas


Ley Federal y Reglamento de la Corte


Orden de restricción


Testamentos y casos testamentarios


Formularios del Consejo Judicial en Español


Divorcio o Separación

Cómo finalizar su divorcio o separación legal

Manutención del cónyuge o pareja de hecho

Delincuencia de menores

Orden de restricción

Violencia en el hogar

Acoso civil

Órdenes de restricción de violencia armada

Detención de focas y registros relacionados

Intérprete judicial

Other Law Libraries In The Area

Alameda County Law Library, Oakland, CA, (510) 208-4832,

Boalt Hall Library (U.C. Berkeley), Berkeley, CA, (510) 642-0900,

Colusa County Law Library, Colusa, CA, (530) 458-5149

Contra Costa County Public Law Library, Martinez, CA, (925) 646-2783,

El Dorado County Law Library, Placerville, CA, (530) 626-1932,

Golden Gate University Law Library, San Francisco, CA, (415) 442-6692,

Humphreys College: Laurence Drivon School of Law, Stockton, CA, (209) 478-0800 x143; Modesto location: (209) 543-9411,

John F. Kennedy University Law Library, Pleasant Hill, CA, (925) 969-3120; Pleasant Hill location: (510) 647-2065,

Mabie Law Library (U.C. Davis), Davis, CA, (530) 752-3327,

Marin County Law Library, San Rafael, CA, (415) 472-3733,

Napa County Law Library, Napa, CA, (707) 299-1201,

Pacific McGeorge School of Law Library, Sacramento, CA, (916) 739-7164,

Placer County Law Library, Auburn, CA, (530) 823-2573,

Sacramento County Public Law Library, Sacramento, CA, (916) 874-6012,

San Francisco Law Library, San Francisco, CA, (415) 554-1772,

San Joaquin County Law Library, Stockton, CA, (209) 468-3920

San Mateo County Law Library, (650) 363-4913,

Santa Clara County Law Library, San Jose, CA, (408) 299-3567,

Sonoma County Public Law Library, Santa Rosa, CA, (707) 565-2668,

U.C. Hastings Law Library, San Francisco, CA, (415) 565-4751,

University of Santa Clara School of Law Library, Santa Clara, CA, (408) 554-4767,

Witkin State Law Library of California, Sacramento, CA, (916) 654-0185,

Yolo County Law Library, Woodland, CA, (530) 666-8918,

Fall/Winter 2022, Topic of the Quarter

Lawsuits and Mental Health – Part II by Jonathan Watson

The advent of 2023 means the end of our series on mental health and wellness. To review, our first posting in the series dealt with workplace bullying and hostile work environments. The second focused on how lawsuits affected the mental health of litigants, their attorneys, and even organizations such as law libraries that aim to best serve pro per customers. This final posting will focus on the wellness aspects of dealing with a lawsuit.

How might wellness be defined? The UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services devised the following “Eight Dimensions of Wellness”: emotional, occupational, intellectual, environmental, financial, physical, social and spiritual. Although you might be put off by the title, if we adapt the model devised by UC Davis, you could say that the 2010 edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Lawsuits primarily encourages emotional and physical wellness. Some of the stress-relieving methods that the book proposes include mild exercise, adhering to a sleep schedule, seeking support groups or therapists, and closely communicating with counsel.   

What about wellness for counsel? In her article “How Law Firms Can Help Litigators Foster Mental Wellness”, Ortega (2022) mentions how law firms have adopted work environments that emphasize teamwork and systems in which litigators can communicate their mental health needs. Abella (2022) wrote how the pandemic affected the work life balance of attorneys and paraprofessionals (e.g., older/single attorneys struggling with loneliness, working parents juggling the care of children and elderly family members, etc.). Abella mentions the Lawyers Assistance Program that is available to California attorneys, which offers short-term counseling sessions.

While the above materials address maintaining one’s mental health and wellness during a lawsuit, what about after the case concludes? Returning to Strasburger’s “The Litigant-Patient: Mental Health Consequences of Civil Litigation” (1999), he mentioned that stress can persist even after a case’s conclusion. In his 2008 article “Lessons from Losing…Defeat”, Gwilliam specifically wrestles with what might be feared most: being the defeated party. He addresses how the concepts of justice and ambition can be harmful when neither prevails, and counsel is left unsatisfied. In which case, is losing supposed to teach a person about humility and perseverance as Gwilliam asserts?

Even though Gwilliam is speaking from the perspective of an attorney, his personal lessons might still be worth reading as a layperson. You might have some legal recourse if you lose depending upon the nature of your case, but will that be wise if your mental health and wellness is dwindling?  More so, rather than seeing it as a sign of weakness, could accepting litigious defeat be liberating? This, of course, is something to be decided by the litigant and having a support system (as described by the articles in this posting) could be useful to gain a better standpoint.

As a reminder, be sure to check out Solano County Library’s mental health kits. If you are unable to check out the kits, you can explore similar materials by using Solano County Library’s databases. Whether you are a pro per litigant or a legal expert, be sure to visit Solano County Law Library for your legal reference needs!  

This blog posting is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. Please consult with a legal expert for the best guidance.

Spring/Summer 2022, Topic of the Quarter

Lawsuits and Mental Health – Part I by Jonathan Watson

Our last blog posting addressed workplace bullying and hostile work environments. This entry will take a broader approach in tying mental health to law. It is said that a divorce is one of the most stressful life events for a person. What about other types of litigation that fall under, say, civil or criminal law?

Please be aware that this posting is not a substitute for mental health advice or support. Nor is this posting intended to discourage an individual from pursuing justice. Rather, it is intended to highlight how one’s health (especially mental) can be affected due to legal proceedings. As summarized by Strasburger in “The Litigant-Patient: Mental Health Consequences of Civil Litigation” (1999),

“…civil litigation is stressful for plaintiffs and for defendants. There is an inherent irony in the judicial system in that individuals who bring suit may endure injury from the very process through which they seek redress. The legal process itself is often a trauma. Although many hope-and some find-that it is ultimately restorative, no one brings a lawsuit for his or her health…”

It might be thought that the end of a case will prove cathartic. We always see the courtroom erupting in jubilation when the judge rules in favor of the protagonist in films and television. However, Strasburger goes on to state that the feelings of stress for both parties reverberate even after the case’s conclusion. More so, the nature of the case can especially have adverse effects—as a personal injury lawsuit was cited as further affecting the overall health of an ailing party. After all, will the judgment make the ongoing pain and mounting medical costs suddenly vanish?

In the 2017 article “Anticipating and Managing the Psychological Cost of Civil Litigation”, Keet, Heavin and Sparrow discuss the impact of litigation stress and how it can be amplified based on the perceived level of stakes. More so, the stress can prove detrimental for individuals with ongoing mental or emotional vulnerabilities. The authors describe how an individual suffering from PTSD after witnessing a violent event might be further triggered by repeated interviews about the incident. As the litigation stress mounts, the authors describe scenarios in which the litigant might exhaust their support system, or the attorney-client meetings start growing increasingly difficult.  

If represented by an attorney, it might seem like the litigant is experiencing the bulk of the stress—as they are relying on an expert to guide them through the legal process. Yet, as with other professions, attorneys are only human and cope with litigation stress in their own ways. According to a study conducted by Krill, Johnson, and Albert (2016), American attorneys experience their fair share of substance abuse and mental health concerns. Their sample revealed that the surveyed attorneys experienced high degrees of depression and anxiety, and significant rates of alcoholism.

In 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported on a 2020 study that included the participation of the California Lawyers Association and the D.C. Bar. The study entitled “Stress, Drink, Leave: An Examination of Gender-Specific Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems and Attrition Among Licensed Attorneys” included similar findings to the one conducted by Krill, Johnson, and Albert. The 2020 study reaffirmed that female attorneys experienced more mental stress (compounded by work-life balance challenges) than their male counterparts. As a result, the 2020 study showed that 1 in 4 female attorneys contemplated leaving the profession. The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession has produced valuable literature on female attorneys, such as conducting its own study on how women of color fare in the legal field.

While they are neither litigants nor attorneys, law library staff can also experience their fair share of stress as outlined in AALL’s 2018 resource “Legal Ease: Self-Care for Library Staff”. Although it is expected that customers will be distressed, it can be a trying task for employees if there is a demand for legal advice or assistance that goes beyond the scope of a law library’s reference services. As quoted, “The very nature of library work predisposes us to burnout. A normal library workday can be described as a continuous round of interruptions”. Some of the stressors mentioned include unmet needs for pro per litigants that cannot afford an attorney, limited resources and staff, and the increasing costs of legal materials. Other factors addressed in the resource include lack of established boundaries between employees, coworkers, and management. Moreover, although the resource does not mention it, there could be the argument that a toxic work environment and workplace bullying could further contribute to a library worker’s stress and burnout.

For information on mental health services in Solano County, you might start your research by viewing this brochure produced by Solano County Behavioral Health. As a reminder, be sure to check out Solano County Library’s mental health kits. You might also consider checking out the social justice book kits, as they address topics such as Native American rights, disability rights, and immigration. If you are unable to check out the kits, you can explore similar materials by using Solano County Library’s databases.

Whether you are a pro per litigant or a legal expert, be sure to visit Solano County Law Library for your legal reference needs!  This blog posting is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. Please consult with a legal expert for the best guidance.

Fall/Winter 2021, Topic of the Quarter

Workplace Bullying and Hostile Work Environments” by Jonathan Watson

With the new year looming, did you know that January 2022 will be Mental Wellness Month? Furthermore, did you know that our parent organization Solano County Library has Mental Health Initiative Kits that you can check out? It is hoped that, in the new year, Solano County Law Library’s blog postings might address various aspects of mental health and wellness from a legal viewpoint.

To kick off the effort, this posting will focus on workplace bullying and hostile work environments. As stated by Ma (2018), workplace bullying may be defined as:

“…‘situations where an employee repeatedly and over a prolonged time period is exposed to harassing behavior from one or more colleagues (including subordinates and leaders) and where the targeted person is unable to defend him-/herself against this systematic mistreatment.’ It is a ‘form of persistent abuse where the exposed employee is submissive to the perpetrator.’”

According to Redman, a bullied employee can experience depression, PTSD, and panic attacks, as well as physical effects such as chronic fatigue syndrome, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome. How is a hostile work environment defined? To paraphrase sections from California Civil Practice: Employment Litigation (West), there are elements needed to “establish a prima facie case” for a hostile work environment such as the plaintiff being a part of a protected group (e.g., sexual orientation, race, and disability) and the harassment was “sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the plaintiff’s employment…”

The same source describes a scenario in which an employee can create a hostile work environment by engaging in severe or pervasive harassment. Accordingly, if the employer does not want to be held liable under Title VII [42 USC §2000e-2(a)(1)], it would be prudent for them to remove the employee causing the hostile work environment from the workplace. If the employer fails to do so, they have not remedied the harassment. As quoted in the source, according to Cal. Code of Regulation §§7286.6(b) [renumbered as 2 CCR § 11009], “an employer is liable for hostile environment harassment not only by it directly but by supervisors, managers, or agents where committed within the scope of employment or the employment relationship”.  

The piece “The differences between workplace bullying and a “hostile work environment” (The National Law Review, 2020) elaborates on how the legal topics diverge. There are even references to cases such as Turley v. ISG Lackawanna Inc. et al. in which the plaintiff was awarded $25 million due to the racist treatment that he experienced that was not stopped by his employer.

To research more on these legal concepts, be sure to visit Solano County Law Library and explore our print and electronic resources. You can also view self-help resources such as Your Rights in the Workplace via Legal Information Reference Center at either Solano County Law Library (in-person) or Solano County Library (online access available with a Solano County Library card). The information provided in this posting is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult with a legal expert for the best guidance.

Resource of the Month: Is the Truth Out There?

Is the Truth Out There? by Jonathan Watson

A few years ago, while sitting outside with my mother, we noticed a fluorescent orb in the dusky sky. When we finally realized that the orange light was not an airplane because of the speed, it ceased moving and then quickly shot up and vanished. While this event did not turn us into Mulder and Scully, it did at least make us ponder cosmology’s mysteries.

But what if we wholeheartedly believed that it was an unidentified flying object (UFO)? With July’s promise of barbeques and Fourth of July fireworks, you may be surprised to learn that World UFO Day is celebrated on July 2nd. The day commemorates the supposed UFO crash that occurred in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. World UFO Day aims to raise awareness of the existence of UFOs and to encourage all governments to declassify any related files.

Even before Roswell, fictional works about UFOs had already captivated audiences. It is said that people actually panicked in 1938 while listening to Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” (based on H.G. Wells’ 1897 work). When I was a child in the late 1980s, I remember being awestruck whenever I watched the UFO abduction episodes of “Unsolved Mysteries”. Even today, UFOs feature in television shows like “Project Blue Book”.

Why the continuous interest in the topic? In Christine D. Corcos’ 2009 article “Visits to a Small Planet: Rights Talk in Some Science Fiction Film and Television Series from the 1950s to the 1990s” (39 Stetson L. Rev. 183), she theorized that “the alien-invasion narrative [served] as a proxy for whatever social, legal, economic, or other threat the culture may fear the most at the time”. Comparatively, in his 1996 article “Illegal Aliens: Extraterrestrials and White Fear” (48 Fla. L. Rev. 397), Kenneth B. Nunn noted that there were similarities “between the representation of aliens in popular culture and European involvement in the slave trade” and thus such narratives conjured panic.

With regard to law, the most prominent UFO court case is associated with the Cash-Landrum Incident that occurred in 1980. A Texas family claimed to have encountered a UFO and witnessed it being chased by military helicopters. Following the event, the family members developed health ailments and they eventually filed a lawsuit against the federal government for $20 million in the Southern District of Texas. The case was later dismissed by the U.S. District Court in 1986.

Upon exploring Solano County Law Library’s databases, I found that there were secondary sources that wrestled with the concept (rather than the existence) of UFOs. Barton Beebe’s 1999 article “Law’s Empire and the Final Frontier: Legalizing the Future in the Earlyorpus Juris Spatialis” (108 Yale L.J. 1737) is entirely steeped in conjecture, as he envisioned a future in which space travel is commonplace and citizenship and property rights are continuously in flux.

In his 2017 article “Arkansas, Meet Tarasoff: The Question of Expanded Liability to Third Persons for Mental Health Professionals” (69 Ark. L. Rev. 987), J. Thomas Sullivan described a hypothetical legal situation involving a psychiatrist. If the psychiatrist is aware that her patient, a pilot, has been exhibiting PTSD symptoms after supposedly witnessing a UFO, would she be held liable for his actions (especially if he crashed a plane due to having an episode)?

The concept of UFOs also figures into Frank S. Ravitch’s 2009 article “Playing the Proof Game: Intelligent Design and the Law” (113 Penn St. L. Rev. 841). He draws parallels to UFO advocates and debated that if their beliefs are comparable to intelligent design proponents in that there is a lack of scientific proof, does this mean that school curriculums should also teach that controversy? For the workplace, in the case LaViolette v. Daley (2000 EEOPUB LEXIS 4858), the EEOC held that patent examiner Paul LaViolette’s belief in extraterrestrials entitled him to the same workplace protections under Title VII as employees who held religious beliefs.

I can understand why the above articles are written on a theoretical basis. If you charted the history of ufology, you have to also consider a mass of hoaxes and conspiracy theories bigger than ufologist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos’ hair (with the COVID-19 situation, though, we are all channeling Tsoukalos as most of us are sporting larger-than-usual manes these days). So, there will be persistent challenges to believing in UFOs. Let us not forget that, in 2003, the crop circles discovered in Rockville turned out to be a hoax.

What is the harm, though, in at least being curious? To quote the character Ellie Arroway from the film “Contact”, “…The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us… seems like an awful waste of space.”

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