Rather than assess 2012, this report will be directed toward 2013. The court system has weathered substantial budget cuts over the past several years. As all are now well aware, the reductions in the budget for next year will be even more severe in relative and total terms than in the past.
Nevertheless, principally through the efforts of Presiding Judge Diana Becton, incoming Presiding Judge Barry Goode, and Court Executive Officer Kiri Torre, the Probate Division will start the year with its operational structure largely intact.
Two significant changes, however, merit announcement at the outset. Judge Ben Burch will leave the Probate Division and return to the Criminal Division. His enormous capacity for work and his willingness to absorb new fields of professional endeavor will be sorely missed. Elder Court, under the guiding hand of Judge Joyce Cram, will be restructured. Judge Cram’s creativity and experience in the probate field will be irreplaceable.
Other changes will be relatively minor. Of note, the ex parte hours have been changed from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. to 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. each day. The change coincides with the reduction in the hours for the Clerk’s Office. Also, parties wishing to have matters reported will need to provide their own court reporters. Electronic recording of proceedings will not be available.
As a final change, Judge Trevor White will join the Probate Division, and will be available principally to handle long cause probate, guardianship, conservatorship, and mental health (LPS) trials. As members of the criminal and family law bars have learned, the probate bar will find Judge White to be an exceptionally capable jurist.
The strength of the Probate Division will continue to center in the capable hands of Courtroom Clerk Shannon Perry and Court Examiners Linda Suppanich and Erica Gillies. Janet Li, as a newly hired limited term research attorney, will also benefit the division. During the coming year, all will work to provide the judicial support that the distinguished Contra Costa Probate Bar has so well earned and richly deserves.
Filed Under: Spotlight