Civil Division Update (2017)

Civil Division Update (2017)

As most of you probably know, one of our Civil Division judges, Hon. George Spanos, retired earlier this year, and we were fortunate to have Hon. Charles “Steve” Treat join us. Before his appointment to the Bench, Judge Treat clerked on the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice William Brennan. He, thereafter, practiced exclusively appellate litigation with international firms in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. After joining our court, he has served in Family Law and Criminal assignments.

Hon. Jill Fannin, our Court Presiding Judge, recently announced judicial assignments for 2018. Judge Treat will remain in Civil, joining Hon. Steven Austin, Hon. Judith Craddick, Hon. Barry Goode, who handles complex litigation, and Hon. Ed Weil, who divides his time between Civil and Probate. Judge Weil will also be the Civil Supervising Judge commencing in January 2018.

Our primary goal as civil trial judges has been to improve services and shorten time delays. New limited and unlimited civil filings have remained stable for the past few years. We have made efforts to set law and motion hearings within 30 days of filing, and to set mediations and trials as early as the litigants desire and to actually have the trials go forward when they are set. With the invaluable assistance of members of the Bar who volunteer many hours serving as Discovery Facilitators, judges pro tem, mediators, arbitrators, neutral case evaluators and particularly “day of trial” settlement mentors, we are closer to achieving that goal. We are grateful to the Contra Costa County Bar Association and those attorneys who generously give their time and talents to our efforts. Your hard work, diligence and concern is a demonstration of your dedication to your clients, profession and the Court.

A few reminders: Demurrers are not heard without “meet and confer declarations” filed with the court (CCP 430.41). Please remember to tab exhibits to motions. Hole punch originals to be filed (Cal. Rules of Court 2.115). Law & Motion tentative rulings are available no later than 1:30 pm the day before the scheduled hearing, and opposing tentative ruling notification must be made to the department and parties by 4:00 pm. Expedited trials are mandatory in limited jurisdiction cases (CCP 630.01) – a good way to get these cases tried sooner and more quickly completed.

Looking forward, we hope for increased funding to: (1) allow implementation of e-filing on all civil cases; (2) purchase media carts with projector and ELMO, including viewing screens, for each general Civil Department; (3) fund additional staff in the Clerk’s Office to handle the many tasks they perform with significantly reduced hands to do the work; (4) appoint a full-time Discovery Commissioner; and (5) the appointment of another civil judge.