It’s good to be busy. Right? Pittsburg Court 2018
This past year, our judges and commissioner, all five of us and staff, conducted approximately 1,370 arraignments, presided over 2,000 cases set for preliminary hearings, processed and/or held hearings for over 22,600 traffic citations and, with only one trial department, conducted 45 misdemeanor jury trials. Our civil harassment calendar has continued to grow. We held no fewer than 500 hearings this last year (last count 540). Small claims and unlawful detainer matters kept Commissioner Lowell Richards very busy with a combined total of over 2,100 cases. He continues to amaze us with his ability to tirelessly manage these calendars.
In addition to this heavy workload, Pittsburg Court began to hear the in-custody warrants that had previously been heard in Martinez due to the proximity of the Court annex to the jail. Our workload grew; this has added 30 to 40 cases to our daily calendars on numerous occasions. I credit our court bailiffs for helping to make this transition run as smoothly as possible. Our criminal calendars typically exceed the limit of cases to be set each day, sometimes by more than double. However, due to the dedication and efficiency by our judges and staff, we are able to discuss and settle a majority of those cases within two to three months of a person’s arraignment.
These dedicated judges and commissioner that I am referring to are: Judy Johnson, Wade Rhyne, Lowell Richards and our newly-appointed judge, Leonard Marquez. I am amazed at how quickly Judge Marquez has learned to handle his various criminal calendars with virtually no criminal background. Both Judges Rhyne and Marquez are relatively new to the bench and they bring a new level of energy and excitement to our court. For me, with 20 years on the bench, I find this to be refreshing and wonderful to see.
Along with the in-custody warrants, our court has experienced more changes this last year. Due to budget and staff constraints, we sadly transferred our Family Law Division back to Martinez. We lost Judges John Cope and Brian Haynes and their staff as they were re-assigned to Martinez last July. Also Sergeant Parrish, who supervised our court security, was promoted to head up operations at the jail in Martinez. However, his replacement, Sergeant Jack Oakley, has made a seamless transition into the position and he is a wonderful addition to our court family.
Our dedicated staff is managed by Court Manager Suzi Dailey. I have so much respect for Suzi and our court staff. Every day they process hundreds of filings and cases, and assist the public and the attorneys who appear in our court. They do so with absolute professionalism and courtesy. David LeDee, our Court Probation Officer, is super-human. His caseload is insanely busy and yet he always has time to assist the judges and attorneys with clients who need additional help and services. Suzi, the clerical staff and David are truly the heart and soul of this highly functioning court, just like Judge Arnason.
Finally, there will be more changes coming after the New Year. Judge Johnson and I will be leaving Pittsburg. Judge Johnson has been transferred to Richmond and I will be returning to felony trials in Martinez. We are both sad to be leaving Pittsburg. Supervising Pittsburg has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my judicial career. I know Judge Johnson has thoroughly enjoyed her time in Pittsburg as well. The reason is simple, the wonderful people who work there.
Yes, it’s good to be busy, especially when you work at the Arnason Justice Center.
See you in court.