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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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