Pittsburg Court 2019
Last year at this time, I wrote this article and announced that I was being transferred out of the Pittsburg Court to preside over trials in Martinez. An unforeseen circumstance arose and my transfer was postponed. I am privileged enough to once again, announce the State of the Pittsburg Court, 2019.
This past year, the Richard E. Arnason Justice Center has seen more of everything. In 2019, we conducted 3,066 arraignments, 1,700 more than last year. We processed and presided over 30,000 traffic citations, 7,500 more than last year. Our small claims and unlawful detainers increased by more than 200 matters. (And) our jury trials increased by more than 33 percent. You might ask “How is this possible?”
It’s possible because we have the most dedicated staff in the business. Suzi Dailey is our Court Manager and she heads up a team of veteran clerks who just know how to get things done. Not only are they knowledgeable and efficient, but they are wonderfully courteous and helpful to the public and all litigants. It is a wonder to see how professionally they run this court!
It’s possible because our court security team and bailiffs handle the transportation and care of our inmates with the utmost professionalism and efficiency. Our rangers and perimeter screening staff usher court users by the hundreds through our front door every day and do so with respect and courtesy. Sergeant Jack Oakley is always on hand to make sure each day runs smoothly. In addition, he has trained them to handle any situation.
It’s possible because of our knowledgeable and hardworking one-man Court Probation Officer, David LeDee. Mr. LeDee has streamlined our processes in Pittsburg to better serve our probationers and the court. His judgment and solutions to problems are intuitive and creative, so much so, that he has gained the respect of the attorneys assigned to our court, who often seek out his advice.
Speaking of more, the Pittsburg Court saw more judges assigned to our court this past year. Judges Judy Johnson, Leonard Marquez and I have been lucky enough to stay throughout this past year. Sadly for Pittsburg, Judge Wade Rhyne transferred out and has been presiding over the busy arraignment court in Martinez. His time in Pittsburg was perfect training for that assignment. Most of the Pittsburg judges were new to the bench. Judges Linda Lye and John Devine hit the ground running in Pittsburg before they were transferred to Richmond. Both quickly learned and adapted to the large and fast paced calendars in Pittsburg, in addition to presiding over numerous jury trials. We are proud they were a part of our Pittsburg Court alumni. Our loss was certainly Richmond’s gain. Judge Wendy Coats is Pittsburg’s newest judge. She recently completed the Judicial College and impressed all the other new judges from across the state with her presiding over 20 plus jury trials already. With Judge Rhyne leaving, we were fortunate to have Judge Lewis Davis assigned to Pittsburg. Judge Davis is a veteran to Pittsburg Court and it’s wonderful to have him back.
We also have a new Commissioner, Diana Kruze. Commissioner Kruze has taken on the unbelievable caseloads that Commissioner Lowell Richards handled for years. Commissioner Kruze is quickly mastering the small claims, unlawful detainer and traffic matters before her and looks as if she has been doing them for years. Of course her training from Commissioner Richards was a good start.
Speaking of Commissioner Richards, he has finally taken that big step into retirement. No one deserves it more than he does. The Pittsburg Court, of course, threw him a big party. It was well attended by court staff and judges. It was a bit like “This is your life” as Commissioner Richards was reminded of his many accomplishments throughout his legal career.
For me, this is “déjà vu, all over.” I really am being transferred to Martinez effective September 16. Well, the time has finally come for me to take up residence in the Bray Courthouse. Throughout my judicial career, now going on 21 years, I have to say that supervising the Pittsburg Court has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have had as a judge. I will miss my Pittsburg Court family, however I know they will be in good hands as Judge Judy Johnson will be taking my place as Supervising Judge. I was extremely privileged to have appeared before and worked with Judge Richard Arnason for many, many years. I hope my time in Pittsburg made him proud.