Traffic Division 2018
It has been somewhat of a quiet year for Traffic at Contra Costa as far as legislative and/or California Rules of Court changes. The past two years there were sweeping changes with the concentration of Ability to Pay for defendants needing an assessment to pay the fines and fees. The Court has worked with the Judicial Council to ensure requirements are being met and the Commissioners work tirelessly to ensure they are following the rules.
This past year Commissioner Lowell Richards has continued to cover Traffic, Small Claims and Unlawful Detainers at our Pittsburg location in the morning and then head into Martinez for a more civil-focused calendar for the afternoon. Commissioner Terrye Davis holds Traffic Court in the morning at our Walnut Creek location and then travels to Richmond to oversee Traffic, Small Claims and Unlawful Detainers. Outside of the courtroom, the Commissioners have an enormous amount of chambers work for consideration of ability to pay, community service and trials in absentia.
In December 2017 and June of this year, Commissioner Richards held the widely popular Pro-Tem Training for Traffic, Small Claims, Unlawful Detainers and Judicial Ethics. These classes have become in such demand, he is offering them twice a year! Check our website for future dates. We would like to thank all our Pro Tems for their commitment to help the court cover our commissioners.
Commissioner Davis recently expanded her role as a bench officer into Juvenile Truancy Court. This calendar was created in 2016 and has grown to every Friday where now Judge Rebecca Hardie and Commissioner Davis rotate weeks. The Commissioner has worked with court staff to be sure she balances her already large workload to include these. She has been successful in incorporating the extra work and it has been helpful to Judge Hardie who has a large juvenile workload.
Kate Bieker, our new Court Executive Officer, has recently been appointed to the Statewide Traffic Committee through the Judicial Council. This committee makes recommendations to the council for improving the administration of justice in the area of traffic procedure, practice, case management and in other areas as set forth in the fish and game, boating, forestry, public utilities, parks and recreation, and business licensing bail schedules. As mentioned earlier, over the course of the past few years, a significant amount of change has occurred in traffic procedure. It is anticipated that the trend will continue and that this committee will respond to those changes as it has in the past. It will be beneficial for our CEO to represent operations and advise the Judicial Council on how proposed changes might impact those that actually have to implement any new legislation, rules and regulations.
The biggest news on the traffic front is a new case management system! We began this endeavor last year in signing a contract with Thompson Reuters (TR) for traffic processing and have begun the task of converting our 20-plus year current system into an updated new one. This process is anticipated to take a year due to the many areas that must be identified and converted such as fine distribution, finance accounting, and case history to name just a few. There will also be a massive undertaking in training for clerks, our IT staff, and bench officers. We have set a goal of early 2019 as a “go-live” and work with TR to achieve this goal…stay tuned!