December 5, 2019
Message from Presiding Judge Jonathan E. Karesh

Posted October 3, 2019



Presiding Judge Jonathan E. Karesh

Welcome to the San Mateo County Superior Court's website.

There have been a number of new developments here in court which I would like to share with you.

First of all, we have three judicial vacancies and we are waiting for the Governor to appoint these three new judges.

The vacancies are due to (1) the retirement of Judge Marta Diaz this past March after more than 20 years of service to our court, (2) the recent retirement of Judge Mark Forcum in September after 32 years on the bench; and (3) the recent authorization from the State Judicial Council to convert one of our vacant commissioner positions to a judgeship.

We are hoping that the Governor will appoint the three new judges by the end of the year, if not sooner.

Additionally, we recently received funding for a new commissioner, who will hear traffic and small claims cases as well as certain family law matters. The hiring process is ongoing and will be completed by early November.

You may have noticed a lot of demolition and construction in and around the Hall of Justice in Redwood City. That is because the county is building a new office building and a large new parking garage across from the Hall of Justice. To make room for the new office building, the court gave the county its traffic building which has now been demolished, as well as the unused courtroom O in South San Francisco. The county will build two large, state of the art courtrooms on the first floor of the Hall of Justice, as well as an expanded clerk's office to better serve the public.

I also have some big news when it comes to Bail in criminal cases.

Last year the governor signed into law a bill banning cash bail and put a new system in place instead of bail. In this new law, the court will get an extensive pretrial risk assessment report for each defendant. The judge will then review the report and decide whether or not to release a defendant without requiring the defendant to post bail.

There is currently a referendum to overturn the law, and enough signatures were gathered to put the referendum on the November of 2020 ballot. Whether the new law will go into effect or whether the bail system will survive will be up to the voters in November of 2020. But until the election the new law banning bail is on hold.

However, each court needs to be ready to comply with the new law in the event that the referendum fails. So, the Court and San Mateo County are working on putting a plan in place to comply with the new law. I am happy to report that we were just awarded a State grant of over $6 million to implement our plan, the largest single grant ever awarded to the Court.

Thank you for visiting our website. I encourage you to check the website regularly for updated information.

Jonathan E. Karesh, Presiding Judge

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