2011 Year in Review: Richmond Court – The George Carroll Courthouse

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Hon. Theresa Canepa

This year has been very busy at the George Carroll Courthouse in Richmond. Judges Peter Berger, Ed Weil, Joni Hiramoto, and our newest, Christopher Bowen, join Commissioner Broughton and me as we hear all of the West County Felony Preliminary Hearings, Misdemeanor Jury Trials, Small Claims and Appeals, Traffic and Domestic Violence cases, Unlawful Detainers and both Juvenile Dependency and Delinquency cases.

Our newest program, and one which is the pilot program for the County, is called the Early Disposition Program which is coordinated by the Public Defender and District Attorneys Offices. Cases which are considered “lower level,” such as theft offenses, drug possession offenses, and certain property crimes are preselected by the district attorney for an early disposition, i.e. prepreliminary hearing. The public defender then, in the seven days before counsel and plea, meets with the prospective client to see if the case can be resolved before preliminary hearing dates and time waivers are set. If so, then the case is specially set on Judge Berger’s calendar and pleas are taken. If not, then the case is set on the preliminary hearing track. Early results have proven effective in removing such cases from the court docket and we hope to continue this success.

In traffic, this Court will also be commencing a pilot program whereby each agency will be designated a particular day of the week for traffic trials. The planning for that program began in March, but will actually begin in January 2012 and is expected by all agencies as well as the clerk’s office to reduce overtime, streamline the court procedures and facilitate access to the courts by both the agencies and the parties involved in traffic trials.

Criminal trials continue to be heard on Mondays and Wednesdays, while felony matters are heard every day of the week, both morning and afternoon. Unlawful detainer cases and domestic violence restraining orders are heard on Monday mornings.

We have added Tuesday afternoons to our criminal Law and Motion calendar, so that these motions are now heard both Tuesdays and Friday afternoons in an effort to eliminate the backlog. Civil motions are heard on Monday mornings. Traffic and small claims are heard Monday through Friday, with extended hours to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays for “night court.”

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