Pasadena ‘Walk-Up’ Window Cuts Wait Times

Courts across California are reporting long lines for relatively routine issues, like traffic tickets, but at Pasadena a new walk-up window is letting people bypass even entering the courthouse, which means not going through the security lines and reduced wait times.
The Courthouse News is reporting that Supervising Judge Mary Thornton House called the new window a huge success and said it would reduce long waits and lines, adding that the court would like to install more walk-up windows, but structurally the building can only accommodate one.
Judge House also noted in the CN that the recent L.A. County Superior Courtco consolidation plan led the Pasadena courthouse to assume Alhambra traffic cases… “so our traffic matters were doubled, which created very long lines and required people to go through weapons screening simply to pay a ticket.” The report also noted a Yelp user who said it had taken him two hours to pay a $238 traffic ticket. The report also says members of the public still need to visit the clerk’s office to request traffic school, or pay traffic citations that have already been sent to collections. Check out the story here.

Race Is On For Sohigian Judicial Seat

By L.A. Superior Court judicial election standards, we have a barn-burner of an election shaping up for the seat currently held by Judge Ronald Sohigian, who is retiring. The latest report is that four people may be running in the June primary, including former state lawmaker Charles M. Claderon.
Calderon’s brothers, state Sen. Ronald Calderon and former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, are under indictment on federal corruption charges did nothing to change his mind, he told the MetNews website, which also cited newswire reports that Tom Calderon pled not guilty Friday and posted bail. Ron Calderon surrendered yesterday, pled not guilty, and was released on $50,000 bail.
The actual deadline for filing candidate papers is March 7 and the MetNews notes that none of the expected office-seekers had filed as of a few days ago. One of the anticipated candidates, Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves is now saying  he will not run. The judicial seat is formally Office No. 48 and you can follow the race at the MetNews.

Chief Justice Still Pushing For Court Funds

With Gov. Brown’s approval numbers soaring and his 2014 budget getting mostly favorable reviews, you have to admire state Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye’s continued efforts to rally somebody, anybody, behind increased judicial funding. On a recent stop to rally Inland Empire attorneys, she addressed the “impression” that the courts had created their own crisis through mismanagement.
The Riverside News newspaper reported on the chief justice’s visit, saying she “pushed back on criticisms that the state court system is solely responsible for its financial straits” and quoted her as saying “there is a presumption, somehow, in the capitol in Sacramento that the judicial branch is where it is now, with courtrooms closed and less services … because somehow, somehow, we mismanaged ourselves into the situation.” 
Cantil-Sakauye said her counter is: “I have to remind them, ‘You took $1.5 billion from us,’ that’s how we’re here … If you ask me, we have done a remarkable, miraculous job of keeping the doors open when you took $1.5 billion from the judicial branch.”
The newspaper offered some context, reporting that “the chief justice did not specify the source of the criticism, but in 2012 the California Judicial Council voted to halt development of a statewide court computer system that some critics claimed consumed $500 million during years of tinkering that brought it no closer to operation.”
Read about the gathering here

Former Majority Leader Makes Interesting Judicial Candidate

If you’re starting to read tea leaves for the upcoming Superior Court judicial elections, don’t forget to note that
Charles Calderon (photo from

Charles Calderon (photo from

Charles Calderon, the former majority leader of both the state House and Senate, is running. He naturally has lined up a solid list of political endorsements and will run a higher profile campaign than we’re perhaps accustomed to in picking judges.
But perhaps more interesting is his public support from a board member of the Alliance of California judges, an independent judicial group that has been very critical of how the state courts are run. In a story by John Hrabe at, Judge Susan Lopez Giss had good things to say.
The judge, who reportedly worked with Calderon in the city attorney’s office, said that ” [his] judgeship would afford the citizens of Los Angeles County with the wealth of his experience as an attorney and a legislator.” We will see if he brings any of that Alliance heat to the public square.
Check out the story here.

Praise abounds as MetNews honors presiding judge

It was a praise fest as The Metropolitan News-Enterprise named L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge David S.
Photo from the Metnews Report on 1/28/14.

Photo from the Metnews Report on 1/28/14.

Wesley as its 2014 “Man of the Year.” In particular, Assistant Presiding Judge Carolyn Kuhl, which the MetNews pointed out is the likely successor to Judge Wesley, lauded the presiding judge for his “leadership in a time of crisis.”
The MetNews also honored David Pasternak, a former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association along with his wife, Cynthia Pasternak, who is a past president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.

Along with the praise, Judge Kuhl offered a rare look inside the decision-making that resulted in the recent courts reorganization, including how much was not known about the eventual decisions. You can check it out at the MetNews here.

Judge Backing New Hate-Crime Reporting App

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley is adding a high-profile judicial endorsement to a smartphone app that allows users to easily document and report “hate incidents.” He joins other officials backing the “CombatHate” app, including L.A. Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing.
The app was designed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and allows users to instantly and confidentially report a hate crime or online hate-induced activity to the Center, which can determine appropriate next steps. Judge Wesley has previously collaborated with the Museum of Tolerance to extend the Los Angeles Superior Court’s decades-old Teen Court through the Stopping Hate And Delinquency by Empowering Students (SHADES) program, which helps combat “hate incidents and hate crimes” on Los Angeles County’s school campuses.
Check out the CBS Los Angeles coverage here

Great New Courthouse Threatened By Budget Woes

Up in Porterville, a San Joaquin Valley community of about 60,000, they have one of those great new courthouses that escaped state judicial budget cuts. It sounds great, described as a “… sparkling new 96,500 square-foot courthouse” with nine courtrooms, holding cells for 85 inmates, solar panels, natural lighting and drought-resistant landscaping. The $93-million facility replaced a much smaller courthouse that had only two courtrooms, making it an important addition to a town experiencing a population boom.”
Tulare County, Porterville Courthouse (photo:

Tulare County, Porterville Courthouse (photo:

One problem though. Local press is quoting the presiding judge saying that budget cuts actually threaten operation of the new facility.  “We are short-handed everywhere you look. We have cut and cut some more,” the presiding judge, Lloyd Hicks, told the local Visalia Times-Delta newspaper. “If we are [to] cut another $2 million, we would be faced with closing the new courthouse.”
The story is being reported in a Minneapolis-based news website, the The MintNews. In a story by Matt Heller, a California correspondent, the MintNews takes a good look at the statewide crisis and reports on specific problems, like “… waiting time for mediation in child custody disputes has risen in at least 19 counties, with parents in Stanislaus County having to wait up to 17 weeks, the report said. Some counties have eliminated hearings in small claims disputes and 11 counties told the committee they are no longer able to process domestic violence restraining orders the same day they are filed.”
Read the story here.

L.A. County Eyes Juvenile Justice Overhaul

The Los Angeles County supervisors have voted to study overhauling how juvenile suspects are defended in the county. They are responding to complaints that some juveniles are assigned public defenders while others are represented by contractors known as “panel attorneys” who are paid flat rates of $319 to $345 per case. A Loyola Law School report that looked at 3,000 Los Angeles juvenile cases last year found that people represented by panel attorneys got more severe punishment.
The Los Angeles Times story on the issue cited attorney Gary Farwell, who was head of the juvenile panel at Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center until it closed last year, saying that the county should review the resources allocated to juvenile representation, but defended the work of his colleagues. The Times quoted Farwell: “We have hardworking, devoted people who do far more than what they’re paid on many cases. It’s not the people who are the panel attorneys that are the problem. It’s the system of resources available to the panel attorneys that’s the problem.”
Read the story here

Push Is On For Latino On State High Court


Supreme Court Justice Joyce L. Kennard (Photo:

Supreme Court Justice Joyce L. Kennard (Photo:

News this week that Republican Joyce L. Kennard is retiring from the California Supreme Court has already launched a push for diversity on the state high court. The Los Angeles Times is one media outlet taking notice, reporting that “… some Latino groups reacted furiously in 2011 when Brown chose Justice Goodwin Liu, a former UC Berkeley law professor, over Latino candidates. The seven-member court has no Latino or African American member, and Liu, a liberal, is its only Democratic appointee.”

Judge Kennard herself proved controversial in her decades on the court, at least among California conservatives, as she consistently moved to the left of the Republican mainstream. Appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian, a true law-and-order conservative by California standards, she often voted in line with Justice Stanley Mosk, a mostly liberal member.

She leaves the bench in April. Let the speculation begin. Start with the L.A. Times here.

CCM Publisher Makes A Case On HuffPo


The Huffington Post has published a piece by Sara Warner illustrating how courts in a city can run very differently from the rest of the state they are in. She makes the case that Los Angeles, and the L.A. County Superior Court, are very different in how they handle judicial rationing. But she also notes that you see the contrasts in other places that illustrate that city-state trend, like Newport News, Virginia.

That city made a “judicial hellholes” list despite being in what a national business magazine identified as the most business-friendly in the nation, at least in terms of its lawsuit landscape.
You can read Sara’s post here.