California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye on Friday announced members of a new Work Group on Homelessness that will study and recommend ways the judicial branch can further assist people experiencing homelessness or facing the possibility of losing their homes.
Said Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye:
I said earlier this year that our courts often serve as centers of social justice and we frequently see those who are in crisis. The pandemic and its economic fallout have only made matters more difficult for some of our residents. I am asking this Work Group to look at ways the judicial branch can partner or complement any efforts the Governor and Legislature may make to alleviate this crisis.
I am also asking the Work Group to look at how we can improve the administration of justice to better serve those in crisis. Some of our larger superior courts already have collaborative or problem-solving courts that coordinate rehabilitation services. The group will study what already works and how it can be augmented. The formation of the Work Group has already been delayed by the pandemic, so time is of the essence.”
California has more than 400 collaborative courts—including homelessness courts, drug courts, and mental health courts—that combine judicial supervision with rehabilitation services. A recent study showed 8 in 10 participants had improved outcomes after entering these programs.
Within the context of the role of the judicial branch, the Work Group will, among other things:
- Identify how the judicial branch might work with the Governor, the Legislature, and other entities to address homelessness;
- Review court programs, processes, technology, and communications to improve access to court services for people who are without shelter or are shelter insecure;
- Examine existing court services, such as homelessness and other collaborative courts, to identify best practices;
- Assess whether changes in laws, regulations, or rules would help address homelessness or provide enhanced services; and
- Evaluate whether judicial branch property and resources might be used to expand homelessness assistance.
The 11-member Work Group will be chaired by Justice Louis Mauro of the Third District Court of Appeal (Sacramento). Justice Carin Fujisaki of the First District Court of Appeal (San Francisco) will serve as vice chair. Additional Work Group members include:
- Assistant Presiding Judge Vicki Ashworth, El Dorado County Superior Court
- Judge Gordon Baranco (Ret.), Assigned Judges Program (Alameda County Superior Court)
- Judge James Bianco, Los Angeles County Superior Court
- Judge Desiree Bruce-Lyle, San Diego County Superior Court
- Judge Robert Burlison, Monterey County Superior Court
- Judge Hilary Chittick, Fresno County Superior Court
- Presiding Judge Joyce Hinrichs, Humboldt County Superior Court
- Presiding Judge Clare Keithley, Butte County Superior Court
- Judge Marco Nunez, Imperial County Superior Court
The Work Group expects to make recommendations to the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council in summer 2021.