This reorganization is the result of several months of planning by Judge Johnson, which eventually included all of the Judges and Court Administration. Beginning in the closing months of last year, the nine Superior Court Judges who serve in elective offices, along with the full-time grant funded Judge pro tempore and the full-time Family Law commissioner (who also serves as a Judge pro tempore), worked at Judge Johnson's direction to discuss how to better serve the public and increase the efficiency of the Court system without seeking or utilizing any additional resources at this time. As a result of those discussions, Judge Johnson has issued Administrative Orders that establish four specialized Courts: Civil Court, Family Court, Juvenile Court and Criminal Court.
About the reorganization and reassignment of Judges, Johnson says: "Assigning responsibility for handling related types of cases to a limited number of judges, assigned to a specific area of law, will allow those assigned judges to become intensely familiar with that area of law thereby increasing the capability and efficiency of each individual Judge. Appointing a Presiding Judge for each specialized Court gives that Judge and the others assigned to that Court, time, incentive and authority to develop fresh ideas and perspectives on the manner in which that Court processes its cases."
"It should be reassuring to the public that all of the Judges are dedicated to being more knowledgeable and efficient in deciding the cases that come before them. Rotating the nature of the assignment that each Judge receives allows each Judge, during the period of a particular assignment, an opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen existing skills in a particular area of law," Judge Johnson explained. "It also conveys the message that no single area of law is more important or valued than any other; each area of law deserves the best skilled and trained attention possible. Our bottom line goal is better service to the public we serve."
In an open and lively exchange of ideas, each Judge was given the opportunity to choose an area of law within which each was already knowledgeable and experienced and in which each was willing to serve and learn. The assignments for which each Judge volunteered are as follows
Civil Court: Judge William J. O'Neil, Div 1, Presiding Court Judge
Judge Gilberto V. Figueroa, Division 4
Judge Robert Carter Olson, Division 9
Family Court: Judge Kevin D. White, Div 7, Presiding Court Judge
Judge Brenda E. Oldham, Division 8
Judge Theresa H. Ratliff, Family Law Commissioner
Juvenile Court: Judge Stephen F. McCarville, Div 5, Presiding Court Judge
Judge Joseph R. Georgini, Division 3
Criminal Court: Judge Boyd T. Johnson, Div 2, Presiding Judge
Judge Janna L. Vanderpool, Division 6
Judge Bradley M. Soos, pro tempore
Judge Stephen McCarville shall serve as Presiding Integrated Family Court Judge as well as being the Associate Presiding Judge for the entire Superior Court. Judge William J. O'Neil will also continue to serve as the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Court. Judge Kevin D. White, effective July 1, 2008, shall be assigned as Presiding Judge of Family Services Conciliation Court. Judge Vanderpool shall serve as the Presiding Judge of the newly-developing Mental Health Court, working closely with the County Public Health Department and the County's Mental Health Liaison, Ms. Dianna Kalandros.
"The public should be pleased that there is such a great assembly of talented individuals on the Superior Court Bench. I believe this organizational restructuring will enable each Judge to focus on an individual area of law and find the most efficient method for turning the available court resources and talents into a successful organizational performance. By assigning Presiding Judges to the individual Courts and giving each the authority to improve the process within their assigned Court, I know that the Judges will provide the public with prompt implementation of changes in law and procedure, innovation and an increased responsiveness."
For more information, contact Superior Court Administration at 520-866-5400.