Elder Court honored for its innovation and success, wins 2011 KLEPS award

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On April 29, 2011, the Judicial Council of California announced the recipients of the 2010–2011 Ralph N. Kleps Awards for Improvement in Administration of the Courts—and our Elder Court was one of the winners!

The Elder Court ensures swift protections for the victim’s physical and financial safety, while also addressing the victim’s mental, physical or emotional frailty, as well as their need or desire to maintain a relationship with abusers who may be the victims’ children, grandchildren or caregivers.

The program consists of:

  • Weekly calendars in the central part of the county before the Hon. Joyce Cram. The docket includes small claims, criminal, landlord tenant, and general civil matters. To minimize transportation issues, documents and emergency elder abuse cases can be handled by the branch courts in the eastern and western parts of the county.
  • Senior Peer Counselors. Volunteer Counselors are available during every Elder Court session to assist petitioners in coping with emotional stress, and work closely with the District Attorney’s Victim’s Assistance Program.
  • Senior Self Help Center is staffed by experienced attorneys and is open from 9 am until 1:30 pm on Elder Court days (Tuesdays). It offers free legal assistance and referrals regarding restraining orders, small claims forms, consumer credit, unlawful detainer, and foreclosure actions, as well as preparing for hearings.
  • Free Spanish Translation and Interpretation services at the Senior Self Help Center are available from a court interpreter training program.
  • Mediators assist elders to reconcile with family members and negotiate their differences. “Kitchen Top” mediations at home are available for those with mobility issues.
  • Outreach, Education and Prevention. Judge Cram and representatives of the Elder Court partner agencies frequently speak at service club meetings and community events.

According to the Judicial Council, the KLEPS award honors outstanding programs from nominations that “must be innovative and transferable to other courts and have demonstrated results.” The Elder Court Program was chosen in part because of its emphasis on collaboration, bringing “together community partners with services that assist the elderly, giving them immediate access to support services, including volunteer senior peer counselors, a senior self-help clinic, mediation, and volunteer interpreters to assist before and after court”.

Congratulations to our Elder Court, Judge Joyce Cram, the Senior Peer Counselors, the Senior Self-Help Center staff and everyone involved in making the Elder Court a successful and remarkable program!

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