Bench-Bar – A Lasting Partnership

We hope you enjoy this combined Bench-Bar issue of the CC Lawyer!

The word to describe the long-lasting relationship between the Contra Costa County Bar Association and the court is partnership. The CCCBA is always willing to, and asking how, they can assist the court. The CCCBA has been a tremendous companion for the court especially with communication, particularly in the past 18 months! The CCCBA has participated in critical changes to how the court does its business and helped make these successful. A fairly recent example of this was the successful change to the Mediation Tier program that was led by the Family Law judges and staff and supported with ideas and feedback from the Family Law section of the CCCBA.

The court appreciates the CCCBA’s support throughout the years and looks forward to working together on projects, the new case management system and any challenges the future might bring Contra Costa!

CCCBA board meeting minutes give us some examples of how the Bench and Bar have worked together from the beginning of our organizations. The oldest set of CCCBA BOD minutes, dated February 13, 1934, indicate that the meeting was held in the office of Judge A.B. McKenzie. At that meeting a committee was appointed to draw up a constitution and bylaws. At the April 23, 1936 meeting, Judge A.F. Bray raised concerns about the difficulty in appointing attorneys to defend indigent criminal matters in a manner that was fair to both defendants and members of the bar. A committee was appointed to formulate a plan for the appointment of counsel for indigent criminal defendants. In the 1940’s several recommendations were given to CC Superior Court judges about issues such as the number of days that judges should sit at Richmond Superior Court, master calendar operations and trial juror selection. On January 22, 1947, a resolution was passed by the BOD recommending CC Superior Court judges’ salary be raised to $14,000 per annum.

The Central Contra Costa Bar Association (which was consolidated with the West Contra Costa and Mt. Diablo Bar Associations to form the CCCBA in 1978), filed a lawsuit that established a Municipal Court in Concord. A similar suit was filed to establish the Walnut Creek Municipal Court. In the 1980’s the CCCBA formed the Bench-Bar Settlement program to address the large backlog in the civil trial calendar. Bar members volunteered countless hours with the court and the CCCBA even used its own funds to increase court staffing.

These days the CCCBA updates its members about changes at the court, asks for and provides feedback, holds townhall meetings, recruits Pro Tem judges and Discovery Facilitators and much more. Additionally, many CCCBA members have been appointed as Judges or hired as Commissioners. We look forward to continuing this partnership that benefits our members, the court and our community.