Corporate articles are fairly useless for any purpose. However, you can determine if the corporation is in good standing and other information, such as the agent for service of process, from the CA Secretary of State website.
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First of all, if you are a Shareholder of the Corporation, you can simply ASK for a copy from the corporate Secretary. If you are not a shareholder, then I concur with my colleague that the Articles of Incorporation aren't going to be all that helpful to you. You want to know if the Company (either LLC or Corporation) is now in Good Standing. Go to the website of the California Secretary of State and do an Entity Search under the company name. Good Luck!
The articles can be ordered from the Secretary of State's office and information on how do do so is on the web site.
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