SAN FRANCISCO—The Judicial Council announced three recipients of its 2016 Distinguished Service Award, the highest honors given by the state court system’s governing body. Now in its 23rd year, the award recognizes those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and made significant contributions to the administration of justice.

The recipients of this year’s Distinguished Service Award are (details follow):

  • Judge Maria D. Hernandez, Superior Court of Orange County
  • Alan Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Superior Court of Orange County and Robert Oyung, Chief Information Officer, Superior Court of Santa Clara County (jointly)

Judge Maria D. Hernandez has displayed personal dedication and extraordinary commitment to advancing and improving the juvenile justice system. In 2015, she convened the first Orange County Juvenile Justice Summit, bringing together more than 400 court leaders, attorneys, probation officers, law enforcement, and education and treatment professionals to talk about improving outcomes for juveniles. In addition to supervising Orange County’s juvenile court judicial officers, Judge Hernandez is a member of many state and local committees, including the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness and the Chief Justice’s “Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court” Steering Committee. She has also served as faculty and speaker on issues affecting families and children in the justice system. Judge Hernandez was appointed to the Superior Court of Orange County as a commissioner in 2006 and later a judge by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.

Alan Carlson and Robert Oyung have been leaders in using technology to modernize and enhance court operations. Mr. Carlson is a state and national leader in the field of public access to court records and e-filing. His court piloted and adopted mandatory e-filing in civil, probate, and mental health cases in 2013. Mr. Oyung helped bring together judicial officers and court professionals to establish a new collaboration model and Judicial Branch Technology Plan. He also works on statewide initiatives to improve case management systems and technology security. Both Mr. Carlson and Mr. Oyung will receive the Distinguished Service Award jointly.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Awards, the council co-sponsors the Aranda Access to Justice Award along with the California Judges Association and the State Bar of California, in association with the bar’s Commission on Access to Justice. The State Bar recently announced the 2016 recipients:

  • Judge Julia C. Kelety, Superior Court of San Diego County
  • Judge Colleen T. White, Superior Court of Ventura County

The Benjamin J. Aranda III Access to Justice Award honors a judge or an appellate justice for noteworthy efforts to improve access to justice in the courts, particularly among the poor. First awarded in 1999, the award is named for Judge Benjamin J. Aranda III, the founding chair of the Judicial Council's Access and Fairness Advisory Committee.

​Judge Julia Kelety was the driving force behind a recent $5.2 million renovation of the San Diego Law Library. She has also helped launch a mediation clinic for litigants at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and played a major role in a training program for court appointed attorneys.
Judge Colleen White is credited with initiating court programs that aid the homeless, military veterans, elders facing domestic violence, and pregnant women struggling with child custody because of substance abuse. At the award ceremony, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Brian Back highlighted the many special emphasis programs up and running in the court because of the initiative of colleague Judge Colleen White. 

More information on the Aranda Award recipients can be found in this California Bar Journal article.