Minutes from March 26, 2019 Open Board Meeting-Judge Sachs


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Open Board of Directors Meeting

Norton Regional Event Center
1601 E. Third St., Suite 138
San Bernardino, CA 92408


Present:   Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mark Cloud, Adam Eventov, Louis Goodwin, Jay Jimenez, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Brian Reider, Thomas Rice, Dan Roberts, Kristine Scott and Steve von Rajcs.


Guests: Karen Feld and Nicole Roggeveen


Announcements: 1) Members wanting to participate in the advocacy trip to Sacramento are asked to book their tickets as soon as possible, as airfare has increased.  2) There will be a joint meeting with the Monday Morning Group at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at the Mission Inn, Riverside. The meeting will focus on each group sharing their advocacy priorities and debriefing on their respective trips to Sacramento, CA and Washington, DC.  All members are welcome, but Committee Chairs are strongly encouraged to attend. 3) Leaders from the Central Valley and the Inland Empire regions will hold their second summit in Riverside on Friday May 10, 2019 at the Riverside Convention Center.  The event is by invitation only.  All Inland Action members were sent an invitation via e-mail on Wednesday, March 20th.   


M/S/P: Minutes from March 19, 2019


Thomas Rice introduced the Honorable Judge Michael Sachs.


San Bernardino County needs 38 judges and 36 are needed in Riverside.  The burden is becoming more dramatic with increases in population.  The county is experiencing new construction of housing in numerous areas.  The high desert, for example, is currently building 60,000 housing units.  The status of the counties judicial system is not sustainable and with increases in population the situation is exacerbated.


Senator Roth’s SB 16 includes funding for 6 judgeships state-wide.  Although only 2 will likely be assigned to our county, it is a positive start to address the problem.  The bill will likely be amended to reflect the Chief Judge’s recommendation of funding for 25.  It is expected that the Governor will want the opportunity to appoint judges, but the bill will face difficulties if, as predicted, the state revenue is below expectations by $2.2B.   However, planting the seed for the 25 is critical as they are needed now, and 5-6 judges will retire in the next 1-2 years.


The County is making good use of the resources and tools available.  Both the courthouses in Needles and Big Bear have been re-opened for limited services.  They offer remote video proceedings and have robust Self-Help Centers.  The Self-Help Centers are open to the public with questions about family law, child support, guardianship, landlord/tenant, or small claims cases.  Court staff can provide practical legal information, answer questions regarding process and procedure, provide resources and tools to assist with preparing necessary forms, and review completed forms to ensure they are ready for filing.  Last year they had 66,000 requests.


Beginning in 2016 they began implementing “Odyssey” case management system (CMS) for criminal and traffic cases.  The system, which is used by 38 other California counties, has proven to be complicated but provides automation and integration of data, enhanced reporting and imaging capabilities.  They are now ready to use the system for civil cases of which have increased from 6,000 filings last year to 12,000.


The annual Civil Settlement Conference Week seeks to assist litigants in resolving their civil cases prior to trial.  Settlement conferences are an alternative to trial and allow all parties to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.  This year they called in 250 cases and saved the county 1,300 trial dates.


A change of facilities is needed for Child Support Operations. Currently using a building that used to be a Mervyn’s Department store, they have security issues and many homeless in their parking lot.  Additionally, they share the building with a charter school that is not only growing and expanding but has a very active and audible music program (running from 8am-2pm).  They hope to utilize the available space in the T-wing located behind the historic court house where they also house their IT dept.


Capitol projects are particularly challenging as funds will be swept by the state if they accumulate more than a 1% reserve.   The courts can request separate agreements with the state to hold funds for a specific project, but the agreements are short term and extensions are regularly needed.  A more realistic reserve of 5% is desired.


Elimination of cash bail will be on the 2020 ballot.  If passed, the state would adopt a risk assessment-based bail system, which would determine an individual’s likelihood of returning for court appearances. The law calls for pretrial assessments to categorize arrested persons as low, medium or high risk.  There is no room in our jails to house low level suspects and the current cash bail tends to favor the wealthy, but these assessments will add to the work load of the court system.


2018 State of the Court was recently completed, of which copies were made available to the group.  The hard copies of the report will be ready in May 2019.


Judge Sachs stated that a priority of the court is simply to increase access to justice for our county.


A Q & A period followed.
Meeting Adjourned 8:30 a.m.