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COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE Santa Cruz Sentinel

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COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE Santa Cruz Sentinel Powered By Docstoc
					                                    County of Santa Cruz
                                           COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE
                                     701 OCEAN STREET, SUITE 520, SANTA CRUZ, CA 95060-4073
                                        (831) 454-2100 FAX: (831) 454-3420 TDD: (831) 454-2123
                                  SUSAN MAURIELLO, J.D., COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER




March 26, 2010

Presiding Judge Jeff Almquist
Judge Denine Guy, Presiding Juvenile Court Judge
Alex Calvo, Executive Director
Santa Cruz Superior Court
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Dear Judge Almquist, Judge Guy and Mr. Calvo:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments to the Court on the proposed changes to
Court operations. I know that you have had a series of meetings with various County
departments and I appreciate that you requested comments from them.

We recognize that this is an enormously challenging time for the Court and the County and that
we both face many complex and difficult choices. We believe that through a shared and
cooperative reorganization of the way the justice system works, we can find the best and most
efficient way to serve the community. The work of County departments and the Courts is so
inextricably connected that your decisions will have immediate and significant consequences to
the County. Neither the Court nor the County has the resources to pay for additional services,
and we are both facing layoffs and furloughs. We both find ourselves in the unfortunate position
of implementing cuts to important services such as courtrooms and health care including life-
saving chemotherapy for breast cancer and prostate cancer patients. I sincerely hope that the
Court will work with us to address our combined issues at this critical time in history. It is in this
spirit that we respectfully offer our comments regarding the restructuring proposals which were
shared with County departments earlier this week.

First, allow me to confirm that we are operating on correct information. Attachment 1 outlines
our understanding of the changes that are proposed to Court operations. We have heard that
other options might be under discussion; however we have not addressed those here. We have
focused on the information provided by the Courts earlier this week.

In an effort to share information and develop a coordinated reply to your request for input, I
convened a meeting of the affected County departments and the contract public defenders on
Thursday. Those in attendance are listed in Attachment 2. At the meeting, we reviewed the
restructuring proposals and began a preliminary discussion of the impacts. Although highly
abbreviated, we have provided a copy of our notes from that meeting as Attachment 3. We all
agreed that additional information is needed in order to fully respond to your proposed changes.


                    SERVING THE COMMUNITY – WORKING FOR THE FUTURE
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                                         Page 2
March 26, 2010


It would be greatly appreciated if you could provide a more detailed understanding of your
proposals by way of meetings or written materials. We would also welcome the opportunity to
review the Court budget and the cost savings assumptions that were used in developing the
restructuring plan.

As a result our discussions to date, we would like to summarize our most significant concerns
for your consideration.

    Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency: The disruption to the juvenile delinquency
     and dependency system of the proposed changes cannot be overstated. Among the
     major impacts would be the need to transfer in-custody juveniles from Juvenile Hall to
     Watsonville for court appearances. The Probation Department estimates that 6 to 7
     youth will have to be transferred each Court day. With the current use of the courtroom
     in Juvenile Hall, in-custody juveniles are usually in court for half an hour before they
     return to their programming or school. Moving all juvenile hearings to Watsonville will
     require the juveniles to be out of school for a full day, will require the County to purchase
     secure vehicles and staff to transport them, and will require physical modification of the
     Watsonville Courthouse to comply with requirements of sight and sound separation
     between in-custody juveniles and adults. A separate letter from the Chief Probation
     Officer has been sent under separate cover which highlights concern regarding safety,
     security, and most importantly conditions of confinement and is provided as
     Attachment 4, for ready reference.

    Proposition 36: The Health Services Director has determined that the elimination of a
     dedicated court calendar for Proposition 36 will result in the loss of $523,000 in
     revenue for drug treatment services. Maintaining consolidation of the Proposition 36
     calendar would resolve this concern.

    Judicial Services to the Watsonville Community: The Watsonville Court building is a
     state of the art facility which was specifically designed to address the criminal and
     judicial needs of South County. The holding facilities and security were designed to the
     highest standard with the expectation of addressing serious felonies. As the County’s
     most modern court facility with readily available high technology, these courtrooms
     particularly well suited for both civil and criminal trials. To forgo providing these services
     in such an exemplary facility a sad day indeed.

Other areas of concern include a general widespread concern that one court will be insufficient
to handle both juvenile delinquency and dependency cases. In addition, there is concern that
attorneys, public defenders, Probation Officers, Mental Health staff and law enforcement will be
needed in multiple courtrooms simultaneously, thus disrupting and slowing down the ability of
each court to complete its calendar in a timely manner. It is also expected that the changes will
require the commitment of additional resources in some areas and commensurate and
deleterious reductions in others, since no new resources are available for reallocation. The
proposed changes, combined with the significant revenue losses, will greatly impact the
County’s ability to address our shared responsibilities to the detriment of the community our
institutions both endeavor to best serve.

In the view of the County departments, we believe that additional time to review options and
developed suggested alternative strategies to achieve your goals will be in our shared interest.




                   SERVING THE COMMUNITY – WORKING FOR THE FUTURE
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                                    Page 3
March 26, 2010


We understand your time challenges and we are committed to addressing these challenges with
you.

Please contact me or any of the County department heads if you would like additional
information. I appreciate your consideration.


Very truly yours,

/s/

Susan A. Mauriello
County Administrative Officer


Distribution:
                Board of Supervisors
                Phil Wowak, Sheriff
                Bob Lee, District Attorney
                Dana McRae, County Counsel
                Scott MacDonald, Chief Probation Officer
                Rama Khalsa, Health Services Agency
                Kathy Sokolik, Department of Child Support Services
                Jerry Christensen, Main Public Defender
                Gordon Salisbury, Conflict Public Defender
                Tom Wallraff, Conflict Public Defender




                    SERVING THE COMMUNITY – WORKING FOR THE FUTURE
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                                          Attachment 1
March 26, 2010


                     Proposed Changes to Court Operations

       1.    They will eliminate 25 out of 135 positions including 1 Commissioner;
       2.    They will furlough the same days as we do plus in all likelihood Friday afternoons.
       3.    All Felonies will move to Santa Cruz
       4.    No jury trials in Watsonville
       5.    Watsonville misdemeanors will be heard in Watsonville
       6.    DV cases will be integrated into their caseload (misde and felonies)
       7.    Drug cases will also be integrated with their caseloads
       8.    Delinquency and dependency will be heard in Watsonville
       9.    Family law and family preservation will be in Watsonville
       10.   Child Support will be heard in Watsonville
       11.   Small Claims and Traffic will be heard in Santa Cruz
       12.   the Juvenile Hall Court will be closed
       13.   Reports will no longer be prepared in Civil matters.
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                  Attachment 2
March 26, 2010



                        Attendees at 3/25/10 Meeting
                       Re. Changes to Court Operation
       Susan A. Mauriello, County Administrative Officer
       Noel Murray, Department of Child Support Services
       Gordon Salisbury, Conflict Public Defender
       Tom Wallraff, Conflict Public Defender
       Bob Lee, District Attorney
       Jerry Christensen, Main Public Defender
       Dana McRae, County Counsel
       Amy Christey, Sheriff’s Office
       Len Lofano, Sheriff’s Office
       Keith Johnson, Department of Child Support Services
       Dinah Phillips, County Administrative Office
       Scott MacDonald, Chief Probation Officer
       Lynn Harrison, Health Services Agency
       Susan Pearlman, County Administrative Office
       Pat Busch, County Administrative Office
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                                        Attachment 3
March 26, 2010                                                                       Page 1

                            Court Restructuring:
                       Summary of Areas of Concern
                    as presented by County Departments

Impacts to the District Attorney

      Closing Juvenile Hall Court will impact daily work; the logistics will be highly
       problematic
      If two juvenile courtrooms are in Watsonville, additional staffing will be required
      Potential for cases to be in two places for the same person
      Prop 36 requires a dedicated calendar
      Misdemeanor and DV cases will be spread out further with misdemeanor
       calendars in another space
      There could be unused leased space in Watsonville and associated costs
      Travel inefficiencies will be experienced

Impacts to the Public Defender

      Similar concerns as the DA, particularly with Prop 36
      Would be better to leave juveniles at Graham Hill facility to avoid interruption of
       programming, school, and there are security issues and costs associated with
       transportation to another Court.
      PD would be required to visit clients at Graham Hill but appear in Watsonville
      Prefer a designated place for LPS and drug court
      Dependency may need a full calendar
      Potential for the progress made with juveniles to be undone; there is a need to
       work holistically with families
      Concern that with all jury trials in Santa Cruz, calendar control issues will arise
      There may be unused leased space in Watsonville and associated costs

Impacts to the Conflicts Public Defender

     The details are needed especially for the treatment of juveniles
     It is recommended that all criminal cases be in the same building
     Calendars throughout the day in various locations will result in scheduling
       challenges and impacts on the availability of attorneys for appearances
     Calendars will be more time sensitive
     Civil trials will back-up or not get out
     Spreading Prop 36 cases will have a significant impact on the treatment
       resources

Impacts to the Sheriff’s Office

      Based on current levels, court security would be short-staffed
      There is concern about sight and sound separation for juveniles
      Safety and security concerns in Santa Cruz grow with intensification of activities
County Response to Proposed Court Operations                                            Attachment 3
March 26, 2010                                                                           Page 2

      May have 1/2 time courts but deputies will be full time, so additional costs for
       security will occur
      Extended transportation requirements will likely result in overtime and more
       personnel costs

Impacts to Probation

      Officers currently funded through Prop 36 would be lost with loss of treatment
       funds
      Concern about sight and sound separation for juveniles
      Requirements to transport juveniles will result in significant new costs for vehicles
       and additional staff
      Currently do not house any staff in Watsonville and would incur space and
       transportation costs
      Mechanics of juvenile detention releases will be complicated
      Quality of services will deteriorate with integration of delinquency and
       dependency
      Juveniles in transport back and forth to Watsonville raises security concerns

Impacts to County Counsel

      Filings will be problematic as they require staff to go to Watsonville numerous
       times during a day; options like fax and e-filing with later delivery of original filings
       could resolve this
      Department 11 is too small a room for proposed use, and having families in the
       jail setting is not workable. Prefer maintaining Juvenile Court in Felton or
       transferring to Watsonville rather than using Department 11
      Dependency cases one time a week is OK but not in Department 11
      Will there be sufficient time to handle the combined juvenile cases?
      Significant new costs for County Counsel associated with transfer of cases from
       Santa Cruz to Watsonville
      Proposal for County Counsel to serve notices is not possible as this is a
       responsibility of the Court

Impacts to Child Support

      Moving to Watsonville will add costs for transportation and incur staff
       inefficiencies, but no significant impacts foreseen at this time

Impacts for HSA

      Loss of $523,000 in revenue to provide services; funding to carry out State
       mandates is dependent on dedicated calendar for Prop 36 cases
      Carrying out Prop 36 is reliant on intercommunication which will be compromised
       by spreading Prop 36 cases
      These cases are to be transferred to Family Court in Watsonville but most of the
       clients reside in Santa Cruz
      Possible “boutique” mental health court grant application in process. How will
       this work?

				
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