Richmond Court Updates: Taking Care of Business

Richmond Court Updates: Taking Care of Business

This past year, the Richmond Court has been active and busy with arraignments, preliminary hearings, misdemeanor jury trials and a host of traffic, small claims and unlawful detainer actions.

We began the year under the guidance of Supervising Judge Claire Maier who was later moved back up to Martinez to preside over the Mental Health Court. After several years in Richmond, Judge David Goldstein was then tapped to cover the busy criminal calendar in Martinez. For a very short time, we acquired newly-appointed Judge Wendy Coats who jumped right in with several jury trials before she was moved over to Pittsburg at the Arnason Justice Center. At the present time, we have a terrific team of bench officers who have taken to their respective roles with ease and dedication. Judge Benjamin Reyes II, a consummate professional, is currently hearing misdemeanor jury trials and preliminary hearings. Judge Linda Lye, who joined us in January 2019, has presided over 14 misdemeanor jury trials to date and is currently in the arraignment calendar. Judge John Devine who arrived in Richmond in July 2019 after having conducted 12 jury trials in Pittsburg, has currently completed two jury trials in addition to coming off a stint in the arraignment calendar. Both Judge Lye and Judge Devine have taken to their various assignments with skill and alacrity and are great assets to our team.
After our former Traffic, Small Claims, and Unlawful Detainer Commissioner Terrye Davis was appointed to the Solano County Superior Court in January of this year, Commissioner Jennifer Lee was hired to preside over the multitude of cases in that department. Commissioner Lee approaches each case with patience and careful consideration which serves all litigants before her well.

Finally, there will be more changes coming after the New Year. Judge Lye and I will be leaving Richmond. Judge Lye will join the Family Law Department and I will preside over the Probate Department; both assignments will be in Martinez. While we are both sad to be leaving Richmond, the torch will be passed to the experienced leadership of Judge Christopher Bowen who will become Supervising Judge in Richmond. Judge Lye’s spot will be filled when the Governor appoints a new judge for Contra Costa.
We continue to be fortunate to have attorneys Philip Andersen, Carolyn Cain, David McDonald, Tod Ratfield, Palvir Shoker, and Barbara Suskind to volunteer their time to sit pro tem in traffic, small claims and unlawful detainer matters when Commissioner Lee is not available. We also have many dedicated mediators: Julie Analani Gantenbein, Carol Kingsley, David Bernelle, Andrew Demo, Ted Bloyd, Phil Neiman, Harry Shulman, Bill Helvestine, and Bill Waterman volunteering their time in small claims, civil harassment, unlawful detainer cases and in mediator training. Everyone in Richmond Court deeply appreciates the generous service of our dedicated and skilled volunteer attorneys and mediators.

As for the administrative side, Ana Juarez was promoted from jury services clerk and part-time criminal clerk to the Finance Department in Martinez. While we’ll certainly miss Ana and her welcoming presence in the Jury Assembly Room, Mary Fitch has now moved into that spot and is bringing both efficiency and diplomacy to this important position.

Richmond Court is also pleased to welcome our new volunteer, Walter Williams, who assists visitors at his Help Desk in the center of the hallway on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. With his charm and pleasant demeanor, Walter helps citizens navigate the court system in Richmond, including utilizing the “Ad Gator,” the electronic calendar system in our lobby so that people can locate and arrive at court appearances in a timely fashion.
We are pleased to continue to have Shelly Hasson as our Court Manager; she manages our courthouse with efficiency and humor. Shelly has been overseeing our most recently-implemented case management system which launched in August 2019 when the system went live. The new program updates the previous antiquated system and is more efficient and economically sound. Additionally, new scanners, PCs and printers were provided to the Traffic Unit this year, thus improving efficiency dramatically.

Tanaka Cato, our Court Probation Officer, is yet another shining star in our lineup. Tanaka’s caseload is incredibly busy and yet she always makes time to assist the judges and attorneys with clients who need additional help and services. Shelly, Tanaka, the entire clerical staff, our interpreters, courtroom staff and our volunteer pro tems and mediators are truly dedicated to serving the public with courtesy, professionalism and efficiency.

As we move into the home stretch of 2019, we are deeply thankful for our many dedicated employees, many of whom have served for decades, for demonstrating patience, integrity and kindness to the individuals who appear in our courts and request their services. These invaluable employees truly make sure we are at our best when we serve the public in the Richmond Court.