Juvenile Division 2019
Twenty Nineteen has been a year of change in the Walnut Creek Courthouse. It has been two years since the relocation and centralization of the Juvenile Courts in Walnut Creek, joining the preexisting Traffic Division. Currently, three judges preside over exclusively juvenile matters involving Children and Family Services and Probation, and the commissioner oversees the traffic calendars. The fourth juvenile judge hears matters at Juvenile Hall. Hon. Lois Haight, Hon. Leslie Landau, Hon. John Cope and I comprise the current Juvenile Bench officers, and Commissioner Jennifer Lee presides over the traffic cases.
In late July of this year, Judge Lois Haight announced that she would be retiring from the Bench after 26 years of presiding over juvenile cases. She was the Presiding Juvenile Judge for 21 years, and continued in a non-supervisory capacity for an additional five years. Judge Haight has dedicated almost three decades to the Juvenile Justice community. She has been a pioneer in amalgamating resources, advocating for the appropriate attention and respect due to serving the youthful population, and organizing and mobilizing Juvenile Justice partners to provide ongoing comprehensive support to abused and neglected minors and youth who are supervised by probation.
Judge Haight is an icon in the Juvenile Justice realm. She has been a mentor to judges and attorneys, a generous selfless contributor to the Independent Living Skills Program, a strong supporter of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, and a tireless proponent of providing for and ensuring the safety and protection of the community’s most vulnerable population. She is an unparalleled charismatic leader, an irreplaceable colleague and a phenomenal person. She leaves an indelible influence and legacy not only within Contra Costa County, but throughout the state of California and beyond. We will miss her immensely.
On September 16, 2019, Judge John Kennedy joined the Juvenile Bench. Judge Kennedy is very experienced and highly regarded. He has primarily presided over complex serious felony trials, and is well known for his incredible work ethic, extraordinary intellect and calm and courteous demeanor. On the same date, Judge John Cope will be transferring from his current assignment at Juvenile Hall to handle a felony trial assignment in Martinez. Judge Cope thoroughly enjoyed his experience, having handled numerous contested hearings, working with various Juvenile Justice partners on a competency protocol, and conducting the Teen Truancy hearings, among other responsibilities. Retired Judge George Spanos graciously agreed to sit on assignment at Juvenile Hall for the balance of the year until Judge Terri Mockler starts her assignment there in mid-January. Judge Mockler will have completed a five-year term in a Family Law assignment, and is similarly well known for her stellar work ethic and keen insight. Judge Mockler will be the first judge assigned to handle cases both at Juvenile Hall and the Walnut Creek Courthouse, enabling more expansive coverage of the heavy Juvenile Court calendars.
Judge Leslie Landau will continue in Walnut Creek in 2020. She has been an impressive addition to the lineup of Juvenile judges, handling heavy caseloads, complicated hearings related to mental competency, lengthy multi-co-responsible jurisdictional contests, and transfer hearings. Judge Landau is an excellent jurist, being thorough, thoughtful, and compassionate.
I look forward to serving another year in the Walnut Creek Courthouse. It has been a very busy year, marked by substantial and momentous changes in the Juvenile Bench. In closing, all of my colleagues and I thank Judge Lois Haight for her incredible commitment and contributions to Contra Costa County Juvenile Justice community.