In 2016 we said goodbye to Commissioner Peter Fagan and hello to Commissioner Terrye Davis.
Commissioner Fagan accepted a new position as a commissioner with the San Diego Superior Court. I’m sure all of us who have had the opportunity to get to know him over the last year will see this as a loss for Contra Costa Superior Court. We are happy for Commissioner Fagan for having the opportunity to take a great position close to home and family in San Diego. At the same time, I’m sad to be losing such a wonderful person and excellent bench officer. In his short time with our court, he has established a reputation for hard work, fairness and wisdom with litigants, attorneys, and law enforcement throughout Contra Costa County. He’s also a friendly and caring person who has been a joy to work with every day. He will be missed.
The court has offered the vacancy to Ms. Terrye Davis from Solano County, where she has served as a Pro Tem Commissioner for many years. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a bench officer that will make her a perfect fit for our court. She began working as a Commissioner on September 6, 2016.
Commissioner Davis is assigned to the Walnut Creek Courthouse in the morning and the Richmond Court in the afternoon. Commissioner Richards now hears Pittsburg cases in the morning and has an eclectic calendar in the afternoon including Name Changes, Small Claims and Unlawful Detainers in Martinez.
In 2016, the Court was very busy implementing the statewide Amnesty Program enacted by the legislature in 2015, which offers those that meet the criteria a 50%/80% reduction in fines and fees. The intent of this program is to provide relief to individuals who qualify and have found themselves in default of a court-ordered debt obligation. One important difference between this Amnesty Program and the one in 2012, is that defendants have the ability to set-up a payment plan for the reduced amnesty total, and their driver’s license hold will be released. Also, if defendants are deemed to be in good standing on a current payment plan, they can have their license reinstated immediately.
Another continuing area of focus for the Traffic Division is helping defendants better understand their options once they have received a citation. We have modified our courtesy notices to add options such as how to include and how to set-up a payment plan. We also clearly explain what will occur should no action be taken by the defendant on their citation.
The Court has also updated the Self-Help Website related to traffic matters.
We are pleased to report that the Centralized Traffic Unit is staying current on citations entered into the case management system once the notice is received by police agencies. This has decreased the long lines at traffic court locations and has drastically lowered the number of phone calls received at our Call Center.
While I remain the Supervising Judge of the Traffic Division, the most important work is performed by our dedicated staff members. The years 2015 and 2016 brought the most significant changes in traffic-related law in many years, and I would be lost without the professional and creative input of the Traffic Unit staff, who have worked tirelessly to implement recent changes mandated by the Judicial Council and the legislature. I am confident these changes, both statewide and local, will result in better access to justice for all members of our community.
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