Minutes from Dec. 9, 2014 Open Board Meeting-Judge Phillips, U.S. Disrtict Court

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Open Board of Directors Meeting

San Bernardino Community College District

114 S. Del Rosa Drive

San Bernardino, CA   92408


Present: Don Averill, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Ann Bryan, Ken Coate, Bill Easley, Scott Hofferber, Matthew Isaac, Jay Jimenez, Mark Kaenel, Pam Langford, Sue McKee, John Mirau, John Prentice, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Phil Waller and Ray Wolfe. 


Guests:  Ted Alejandre


Announcements:  1) The annual advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. will be Sunday, March 15 thru Wednesday, March 18, 2015.   2) There will be a ground breaking ceremony for the future home of Loma Linda University Health-San Bernardino at noon on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 250 South G Street, San Bernardino.  3)A majority of the members present voted to extend an invitation of membership to Bank of America and the San Bernardino City Unified School District. 4)  The City Council of Redlands will honor Mayor Pete Aguilar on Tuesday evening in the City Council Chambers.  There will also be a reception in his honor at the University of Redlands Alumni House on December 30, 2014 from 4p.m. to 6p.m. 


M/S/P:  Minutes from November 25, 2014.


Paul Shimoff introduced the Honorable Judge Virginia Phillips, U.S. Central District Court .


The Unites States District Court for the Central District of California serves over 19 million people in southern and central California, making it the largest federal judicial district by population.   The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is divided into three divisions, with jurisdiction over seven counties: Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. 


It is the Eastern Division that covers Riverside and San Bernardino counties at the Riverside Courthouse.  The eastern division is not only the largest geographically but also has the fastest growing population in the country serving 4.2 million people.  This division humorously referred to as the “eastern front”, has 2 Judges to carry the extensive work load.  Los Angeles by comparison has 20.  It’s common for cases filed in Riverside to be turned away and referred to Los Angeles where the caseload is far more manageable.  These attempts to even out the work load allocation have created excessive travel time, and a waste of resources for the both the public and law enforcement. 


The federal courts decide both criminal and civil cases.  The case load currently on Judge Phillips docket consists of 150 criminal and 300 civil cases.  Drug related offenses, including trafficking, make up 1/3 of the criminal case load.  Other criminal cases include terrorism charges, espionage, bank fraud and bank robberies.  Civil cases heard are often white collar crimes of embezzlement, ponzi schemes or breach of contract, civil rights, intellectual property and product liability.       


Judge Phillips, along with other volunteers, has created a program for some first time offenders that addresses underlying problems such as gambling and drug addiction.  Many of the federal crimes carry mandatory sentences and this program recognizes that addressing the treatable underlying causes can give these individuals a chance to turn their lives around.  The program has offenders meeting with judges and others who supervise them.  It provides programs in life counseling and assistance with basic finance classes.  Graduates of the program get probation rather than prison sentences.  Although the program began fairly recently, it is encouraging that so far there has been zero recidivism.


The federal courts use both the DMV and voter registration for their jury pool.  Typically the duration of Judge Phillips cases are three to four days.  Judge Phillips asked the group to encourage participation in jury duty so as to have a mature and intelligent jury pool.     


Recommendations have been made to increase the judgeships by 10-12 in the Central District.  This would potentially add 2 judges to the eastern division.  Unfortunately the existing courthouse used by the eastern division is at full capacity.  An addition to the building has been explored and would be both workable and cost effective.  The building is owned by the county, which will not approve the expenditure without a firm commitment that they will get the new judges.  Approval for the new judges will not happen until the courthouse can accommodate them.    New courthouse construction will not occur until congress completes a new judgeship bill.  The introduction of a new judgeship bill has occurred every year but they have not had one pass since 1991. 


Judges have met with Congressman Calvert and Senator Feinstein who have been very supportive of increasing the judgeships.  Judge Phillips expressed appreciation for Inland Action’s interest and support.  Judge Phillips will send details of current legislation that has been introduced to the Inland Action office.    



A Q & A period followed.


Meeting adjourned at 8:25a.m.