February 1, 2022- Chief Judge Phillip Gutierrez, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California-Hybrid meeting In-person & via Zoom -via ZOOM

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Hybrid Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM


Present:  Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Sandra Cuellar, Michelle Decker, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer,  T. Milford Harrison, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Pam Langford, Mike Layne, Darcy McNaboe, Miguel Mendoza, Jacquelyn Mercado, John Mirau, Tomas Morales, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Karen Richmond, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Sol The, Eric Ustation, Pete Van Helden, Michael Wells, Marisa Yeager, and Frank Zabaleta.

Guests: LaDonna DiCamillo and Sheriff Dicus.

Announcements:  1) Committees were reminded that their 2022 Federal Issue papers are due today. February 1, 2022.  The Committee Chairs will present their issues and priorities will be selected at the February 8, 2022, meeting.  Inland Action’s federal advocacy will be via Zoom on March 8th & 9th, 2022. 2)  There will be a tour of Amazon Air on February 15, 2022, in lieu of a meeting.  Please contact Sue Harrison if you would like to participate.  The tour size will be limited and those attending should be prepared to climb stairs and walk over a mile.  Further details will be distributed to those attending.  Thanks to member Miguel Mendoza for arranging this opportunity. 3)  The Greater Ontario Business Council will hold their annual “Vision” event on Friday, February 4, 2022, from 7:30a.m.-11:30a.m. via Zoom.  To register for Vision 2022 please go to https://bit.ly/GOBCVISION2022  4) The League of California Cities Inland Empire Division invites members to their first IE Division meeting of 2022 on Thursday, February 17, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. at the San Bernardino Airport Domestic Terminal.  For further information please contact Laura Morales at lmorales@cacities.org

Lowell King, Chair presiding.

Motion by P. Van Helden/Second by D. Roberts/Passed (abstention Scott): Minutes from January 25, 2022.

Motion by D. Roberts/Second by K. Coate/Passed: Approval of Jacquelyn Mercado, Government & Regional Affairs Representative, Metropolitan Water District replacing Patti Arlt.

Dan Roberts introduced Chief Judge Phillip Gutierrez, U.S. District Court for the 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.

Judge Gutierrez shared his perspective on the needs and challenges facing the Central District.  He expressed great interest in becoming more familiar with Riverside and San Bernardino in order to better serve us.  He has been a District Judge for 15 years and Chief Judge since June 2020 and expressed a strong desire to improve judicial coverage for our area as we have not been well served.

COVID has had an impact in all aspects of our lives and the courts were no exception.  The courts shut down and had to adapt digitally.  This new way of life was challenging and although they could not conduct jury and criminal trials, they were able to continue their business remotely and resolved cases, held hearings, and conducted mediation.  When the courts reopened (May 2021 through December 2021) they held 104 jury trials and 50 bench trials.  However, in January 2022 the courts shut down again due to the new variant, but they are hopeful they can resume full operations in late February.  Of the 28 Judge slots there are currently 6 vacancies (down from 10) which further impacts their ability to get their work done.

There are now nominees in place for all vacancies, two of which are from Riverside.  Both judges from Riverside will have their senate judiciary committee hearings this week, and they are expected to be in place by this summer.  Historically, our area has been at a big disadvantage with only one judge but will soon have 3.  However, our community has a population of 4.5 million and deserves at least 5 judges to serve it properly.  The lack of local judges forces a huge number of cases to be transferred to Los Angeles which increases costs due to extensive commuting time.  Additionally, since many trials are transferred to Los Angeles, outcomes may be different as selected jurors are not from the Inland Empire and have different experiences and perspectives.

Our existing courthouse is unacceptable.  It can only house two judges and is now being built-out for 1 more chamber.  It is clear our area needs a new courthouse that will serve us for the next 30 years.

The courthouse need in our area ranks #2 in the country but regardless of the need the average new courthouse process can take ten years.  The groundwork is being laid now with a completed feasibility study and 9th Circuit approval.  National approval is also expected this year, and then they will submit to the General Services Administration (GSA).  The GSA, who manages federal property and provides contracting options for government agencies, will conduct their own studies to get the work done.  Support and attention are needed by everyone – citizens, business, law enforcement, etc., to ensure a new facility.  Unanimous support by our Congressional representatives will be of major importance.

Judge Gutierrez stated that he would welcome a return to the region to get to know us better and, therefore, serve us better.

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:33 a.m.