January 24, 2023 Minutes- The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, Chief Judge, Central District of California Hybrid Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, Chief Judge, Central District of California

Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM


Present:  Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Chris Carrillo, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Josh Cox, Kevin Dyerly, Otis Greer, T. Milford Harrison, Mark Kaenel, Lena Kent, Lowell King, Steve Lambert, Bill Lemann, Darcy McNaboe, Miguel Mendoza, Anne Miles, Dan Murphy, Bansree Parikh, Cid Pinedo, Catherine Pritchett, Karen Richmond, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Elizabeth Romero, Dan Schenkel, Paul Shimoff, Eric Ustation, Pete Van Helden, Michael Wells, Ray Wolfe, and Frank Zabaleta.

Guest: Larry Garrity, Monday Morning Group

Announcements: 1) Committees were reminded that federal issue papers are due to staff on Thursday, February 2, 2023.  2) The Executive Committee will meet next week January 31, 2023.  3) The webinar on Equitable Economic Development Across the State presented by the Little Hoover Commission on January 20, 2023, is available for review.  Those interested should contact Carole Beswick.  4) A request of support for the reception to be held in Washington, D.C and an evening gathering facility supplied by San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will be sent out soon.

Motion by L. King/Second/Passed: Minutes from January 17, 2023.

Dan Roberts introduced the Honorable Philip Gutierrez, Chief Judge Central District of California who joined us in person.  The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is a general trial court for both civil and criminal matters of the U.S. federal court system, having jurisdiction in seven counties: Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.   The District is the largest in the nation both geographically and by population. Th judge has been a District Judge for 15 years and Chief Judge since June 2020 and very much hopes to improve judicial coverage for our area, as we have been underserved for a very long time.

Additional judgeships are needed in the Eastern Division as we currently have 24 of the 28 active slots filled.  Two nominees, Judge Kato & Judge Vera, will be decided by the new Congress in the next few weeks and another two are in the pipeline.  The lack of judges and space to seat them creates a compelling and impactful situation for the Inland Empire region with far too many cases being moved to L.A.  Our region is fast-growing and has a high and increasing population of people of color who are already underserved.  Impacts of trials held in L.A. include access challenges, lengthy transportation time and increased costs for law enforcement, attorneys, witnesses, victims, and litigants.  Additionally, there is a significant difference in jurors.

Funding for a new federal courthouse is needed.  The process is typically long (10 years) but we must continue to advocate.  The process began two years ago and follow the following steps:

  • Court requests facility
  • Space and facility needs are accessed (the need in the IE is ranked second in the nation for the last 10 years)
  • Judicial Council reviews-The IE has been approved.
  • National space for facility-The IE has been approved.
  • National Judicial Conference review-The IE has been approved.
  • General Services Administration (GSA) Feasibility Study- The IE along with many other areas in the nation are on the current list. The GSA typically only completes 1-2 studies per year and the studies can take 2 years or more.

The GSA study for the IE is expected to begin sometime this year.  It is critical for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to speak with one voice on this need and have a united delegation advocating for approval.

Once approved the process turns to funding through federal appropriations.  Continued unity will be needed from the two counties as the appropriations process is much more political in nature.  Both sides of the aisle will be needed to support the project.  Congressman Calvert has already expressed support and has suggested legislation that could shorten the GSA study process.

Studies have indicated that our region needs some 8-10 new permanent judgeships in the next 10 years to serve our population.  Although we have not seen any new judgeships since the 1990’s the initial focus must be on a new facility for judges to be seated.

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:29 a.m.