The Judicial Council at its September 14–15 business meeting will consider a recommendation to reallocate two vacant judgeships each from the Superior Courts of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties and transfer them to the Superior Courts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Assembly Bill 103 requires the council to identify which judicial vacancies will be transferred between the specified counties and take all steps necessary to carry out each transfer. Once the vacancies have been approved for transfer, the Governor will be able to appoint new judges into those positions.
According to the council’s most recent judicial needs study, both the superior courts in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties should have approximately 60% more judicial positions, making those courts the neediest by percentage in the state.
Other items on the council meeting agenda include:
Final Report on Traffic Amnesty Program: The council will receive the final report on the 18-month Statewide Infraction Amnesty Program. Offered from October 2015–March 2017, the program enabled people to resolve their delinquent court-ordered debt at a significant reduction and to request their driver’s licenses back. The program resolved 255,306 cases, allowed 246,000 people to qualify to have their driver’s license restored, and resulted in net revenue of $31,562,136. However, coinciding with the start of the amnesty program in October 2015, the report estimates that criminal revenue collections in recent years would have been $131,800,000 higher without the amnesty program in place.
Collaborative Justice Courts - Substance Abuse Focus Grants: The council will consider a recommendation to fund programs in 49 courts for fiscal year 2017-2018 with these annual grants that help expand or enhance promising collaborative justice programs around the state. Collaborative justice courts combine judicial supervision with rehabilitation services that are rigorously monitored and focused on recovery to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for offenders.
Court Adoption and Permanency Month: As it has since 1999, the council will consider a recommendation to proclaim November “Court Adoption and Permanency Month.” The designation recognizes the efforts of California courts and justice partners to provide children and families with fair, understandable judicial proceedings and just permanency outcomes. As part of the presentation, the council will hear from an adoptive family about their experience with the adoption process.
Courthouse Closures or Reduced Hours: Per statute and its normal meeting procedures, the council will receive a report on which trial courts have closed courtrooms or clerks’ offices or reduced clerks’ office hours because of budget challenges. Since the previous report, 4 superior courts—Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco, and Ventura Counties have issued new notices of closures or reductions.