Much Change in 2018 – More to Come in 2019

It is such an honor to write this article as the new Court Executive Officer of Contra Costa Superior Court. This court is a special place full of amazing judges, commissioners, and staff. I have been with the court for almost 13 years and I can truly say I enjoy it each and every day. In my six months as CEO, we have been faced with ongoing budgetary challenges but with some good news on increased funding from the governor’s budget this fiscal year. With these funds, we will work hard to address our staffing shortage both in the Clerk’s Offices and courtrooms. We are also working to comply with the Jameson v. Desta Supreme Court decision to increase the number of court reporters in family law courtrooms in accordance with the ruling.

I have many exciting news items to share with you:
  • Contra Costa Superior Court has entered into an agreement with a vendor, Thomson Reuters, for a new case management system. We begin our path down this complicated process with the traffic-case type. We have been fortunate to learn from other courts throughout the state on their “lessons learned” during implementation so we can avoid the same pitfalls. The implementation of case management system is a massive undertaking and will take the court somewhere around five years to fully complete a courtwide all-case type system successfully. As we work through implementing the system, we work to fund the system. We are working with the Judicial Council to submit a budget-change proposal to the state Department of Finance with seven other courts to help pay for the cost of the new system. We are hopeful these funds will be approved for fiscal year 2019-20 in order to move forward with the criminal upgrade.
  • We have had significant additions and changes within my executive team. Magda Lopez retired in October after 11 years with the court as the Director of Court Programs and Services. She had direct oversight of Family Law, Legal Research Attorneys, Court Interpreters and served as Public Information Officer (PIO). We have now split her duties amongst three members of the team: (1) Human Resources Director Shannon Stone oversees the Court Interpreters’ Unit. (2) James Paulsen was recently promoted to Director of Family Law and Probate and manages the Family Law and Probate Division. Jim has been working to transition into his new role and we are very fortunate for his professionalism and commitment to the court. (3) A newly-created position to the Executive Team is the Director of Compliance and Communications (C&C). This position has assumed the role of PIO and has oversight of the legal research attorneys. The C&C Director will help the court with the numerous legislative changes to the criminal justice system, overall compliance of these laws each year, and implementation of urgent legislation. We found the perfect candidate to fill this position with Matt Kitson who has served as our Lead Civil Research Attorney for the past four and a half years for the court. Prior to joining the court, Matt was an attorney whose practice focused on complex litigation and white collar criminal defense. Matt has been working with our Presiding Judge Jill Fannin and me to develop the position and we believe this role is critical for all the changes and complexities that our court has endured this past year and more that is sure to come.
  • Lastly, I am very excited to announce a wildly successful find for our court—Chief Information Officer David Chulick. David joined the court in May and has been “putting out fires” since his arrival. Our court has been plagued with several technology issues these past few months and David has been able to handle each one with little or no interruption to court customers. David comes to Contra Costa from Sonoma Superior Court with seven years experience as its IT Director.

Prior to joining our court, David worked for many city entities as well as for the state of California. David has successfully implemented two case management systems at Sonoma Superior Court. His knowledge and expertise will serve the court favorably as we venture down the case management path. David will continue to steer the IT Department as it embarks on the advances that are being developed statewide to help court users utilize technology through digital evidence, video arraignment and much more.

David has a challenging future ahead of him with little attention having been given to the IT Department due to budget constraints. The court must focus on its infrastructure to combat viruses and data breaches as well as update our outdated servers and backup systems. David will also focus on the infrastructure of the court security system working in conjunction with our facilities team. All this and implementing a new case management system! I have no doubt David will handle it like a pro!

I am very enthusiastic for the new members of my court executive team and believe 2019 will be incredibly exciting and full of good change!