Richmond Court Update (2017)

Cases are moving smoothly through the George D. Carroll Courthouse, where we are honored to serve in a building named for a man who was the first African American Mayor of Richmond, the first African American lawyer and the first African American judge in Contra Costa County.

Judge Benjamin T. Reyes, II, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and took the bench in July. We are extremely pleased to have Judge Reyes serving in Richmond. He has handled seven criminal jury trials in seven weeks, in addition to a steady stream of preliminary hearings with wisdom, patience, dignity and grace. Judge Reyes sits in Department 16, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Thomas Maddock.

Thanks to Judge Reyes’ appointment, we are now operating in Richmond with a full complement of four judges: Judge David Goldstein in Department 6, Judge Danielle Douglas in Department 18 and me in Department 32. In addition, we are fortunate to have Commissioner Terrye Davis presiding over traffic, small claims and unlawful detainer matters in Department 54 every day starting at 1:00 pm. Her patience with litigants, command of the law and attention to detail have won her kudos from our bench.

Your judges in Richmond have done 47 jury trials (four of them felony trials) and over 170 preliminary hearings this year as of September.

This year we were pleased to begin participation in the Public Defender’s Misdemeanor Early Representation Program (“MERP”). Funded by a grant from U.S. Department of Justice, the program aims to reduce failures to appear, provide early legal representation to defendants, and link individuals with social service resources. The Public Defender’s Office works in conjunction with the Richmond Police Department and the Richmond Court in administering this program.

In September we welcomed Shelly Hasson to Richmond as our Court Operations Manager. Ms. Hasson covers Criminal. Carla Sankey is the Lead in Traffic and Bonnie Stubbs is the Clerk V for Civil and Jury. Ms. Stubbs is also in charge of the ICMS for the entire Court. We bid a fond farewell to Karen Cardinale and wish her well in her position in the new Juvenile Court in Walnut Creek as their Senior Operations Manager.

We also look forward to implementing the new Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (“DMC-ODS”) in cases involving substance abuse issues (alcohol and/or drug related), with or without co-occurring mental health issues. Participants must be county residents and Medi-Cal eligible. The DMC-ODS is administered by Alcohol and Other Drugs Services branch of Contra Costa Health Services.

No longer may individuals enroll themselves into “30-day outpatient” or “90-day residential treatment” programs at county facilities. The new program does away with fixed lengths of stay. Instead, clients must be assessed by a Licensed Practitioner of the Healing Arts (“LPHA”) and be recommended only for “medically necessary” treatment. The protocol dictates that clients with a medical necessity be placed in the least restrictive environment. Clients are reassessed during their programs and they may be discharged or recommended for additional treatment at any time depending on their progress. The treatment recommendation may involve more or less intensive treatment or recommend that the client complete a longer or shorter period of treatment.

Individuals seeking help with substance abuse issues may call the access line at 1-800-846-1652 to set-up an appointment with an LPHA, and in addition, we anticipate having an LPHA in Richmond on Thursdays during the misdemeanor pretrial conferences. Defense counsel should note that the DMC-ODS has an agreement in place with the Sheriff’s Office for individuals in custody to call the access line.

I am transferring to the Family Law Division next year, and I wish to thank Presiding Judge Jill Fannin for the opportunity to serve as Supervising Judge in Richmond where I started my judicial career 19 years ago. I wish to express my deepest appreciation to my dear colleagues, Judge Danielle Douglas, Judge David Goldstein, Judge Ben Reyes and Commissioner Terrye Davis. Each is an outstanding jurist and I have enjoyed our collegiality and teamwork. It has been my honor to serve with them.