There are some significant changes this year in our Juvenile Division. The budget issues that are plaguing California are certainly being felt in our courts. For 2013 the juvenile courts will consolidate and all move to the Martinez courthouse with of course the exception that the juvenile hall court will remain at juvenile hall for detained youth.
This is a very difficult move for the juvenile bench which has been so pleased about the wonderful new courtroom in Pittsburg and the court in Richmond. However the budget issues are driving consolidation and we will try to make the best of this hopefully temporary situation. We are exploring with our justice partners setting different hours and days to accommodate the difficult access for those families and lawyers living in East and West County.
We also have a big change in juvenile court judges. Commissioner Steve Houghton is retiring. He has been a great gift to our court with his excellent judgment, devotion to our youth and their families and his delightful upbeat humor. He is a huge loss to our bench. However we may wish him well in retirement, I am hoping we can call upon him as a retired annuitant for us as needed.
We have three excellent experienced judges coming into juvenile, Judges Rebecca Hardie, Joyce Cram and George Spanos. They will be replacing Commissioner Houghton and Judges Hinton and Hiramoto, who are moving to new assignments. It has been wonderful having these two judges and commissioner working in the juvenile arena and I know they will be hugely missed by our attorneys and their clients.
Judge Baskin has been on leave to sit on the 1st District Appellate Bench until January 2013 and Judge Thomas Maddock has been volunteering and taking his calendar. Because he previously sat as a Juvenile Judge, his experience has been valuable.
Therefore beginning January 2013, the Juvenile bench will consist of Judges Haight, Baskin, Cram, Hardie and Spanos. It has not been determined as yet which calendars will go where, who will sit where (other than Haight and Baskin). For the next months we want to work closely with our attorneys and Social Service representatives and other justice partners to organize and accommodate the many changes.
We have lost our juvenile drug court but are working with probation to use many of the same resources to help the youth stay drug free. Although Judge Hiramoto will no longer be on the juvenile bench, she will still direct the volunteer curfew program in Richmond.
The Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) courts will continue as mandated by statute but may be reduced at times. As you can see this has been a busy year. We have all had to accept change that is difficult but our main goals of caring for the youth and families in our county remains constant. Our wonderful Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) have been so appreciated in these times when the social workers have been reduced. These incredible volunteers take the time to connect with very needy children and we could not do our dependency court half as well without them.
We thank all of those this year that have served in our court. Our public defenders, district attorneys, probation officers, dependency attorneys, county counsel, CASAs, social workers, therapists, doctors all are here because they care deeply about our youth and we are so fortunate to have such dedicated and talented people serving our juvenile court.
Filed Under: Spotlight