Pittsburg Court 2017

Borrowing a phrase from my favorite Irish blessing, “May there always be work for your hands to do” doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Richard E. Arnason Justice Center. As usual, our filings have increased and we are adding yet another daily calendar to our already heavy workload. Starting in January, the in-custody Pittsburg warrants usually heard in Martinez will be coming back home to Pittsburg. These calendars will be heard each weekday morning.

As change seems to be constant with our court system, our Pittsburg Court is no exception. In August, we welcomed our newest judge to the bench, Judge Wade Rhyne, Dept. 37. Judge Rhyne has hit the ground running and is doing a fabulous job. He is a quick study and a hard worker and we are thankful that he will be with us next year. Judge Anita Santos will sadly be leaving us. She is headed to Martinez to preside over felony trials. I have no doubt she will handle those jury trials as efficiently and wonderfully as she has handled our Family Court calendar. Replacing her in Family Court will be Judge John Cope, who is no stranger to Pittsburg Court. We are elated to have him back as part of our team next year. As for the rest of the judicial assignments, we are fortunate that Judges Lew Davis, Judy Johnson and Brian Haynes will be staying put for now. Finally, Commissioner Lowell Richards will be staying to preside over the many high volume calendars he handles so well each day. I admire, respect and thoroughly enjoy working with each of these judges.

We have experienced some changes in our court administration and security as well. Suzi Dailey, our Court Operations Manager, has taken on the responsibilities for running the Clerk’s Office as Lisa Swafford has moved to take on new and challenging duties in Martinez. Sergeant Michael Parrish has assumed the duties of head of Pittsburg Court security replacing Sergeant Garibay who is now supervising patrol officers. Thanks to Ms. Swafford and Sergeant Garibay, the transition in these roles was smooth.

For our court probation officer we are status quo and thankful for that. Dave LeDee continues to supervise too many individuals to count. This next year, he will also be overseeing the many changes regarding referrals for drug and alcohol programs as well as developing a specialized calendar for repeat DUI offenders.

One of the busiest professionals in our court is our designated court interpreter, Ms. Elizabeth Dantes. Not only is she extremely proficient in translating the proceedings for our non-English speaking court users but also she is an absolute pleasure to work with. We are blessed to have her in Pittsburg.

I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the hard work of those individuals who literally listen to every word we say—our court reporters. Our calendars are often over 60 matters in one session and on occasion we have reached 90. Our reporters are fast and accurate. Did I mention they are fast? Thank goodness for them or else we would never be able to get through the day’s work.

Our clerks in the courtrooms and Clerk’s Office ROCK! They handle our voluminous caseload with ease and grace. They are consummate professionals when helping the attorneys who frequent our court, their clients, other court users, as well as all of our jurors. They also know a little something about throwing a barbecue. Our last barbecue to celebrate the end of summer (as good a reason as any to have a barbecue) was held on the hottest, record-breaking day of the year. Yes, it was hotter than hot, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Normally at this point of the article I would recite the numbers of filings for each of our different caseloads. Suffice it to say they are “HUUUGE” numbers, but those of you who frequent the Pittsburg Court already know that. We are very proud of the work that we do and hope it lives up to the reputation of the judge whose name is on our courthouse.

See you in court.