Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview with Commissioner Grant Barrett - candidate for Superior Court Judge Dept 1

Judicial candidate questions:

Name and dept.
Grant Barrett
Superior Court Judge, Dept. 1

Why are you running for Superior Court Judge?
Both long-serving judges are retiring, and Calaveras County needs experienced judges on the bench.  I offer the experience our court needs.  I have been on the bench deciding cases in Calaveras County since 2001.  I enjoy the challenge of being a judge presiding over a varied court calendar including criminal, civil, family, probate, and juvenile matters.  I am prepared to continue my service to Calaveras County for decades to come.

What qualifies you for the position you seek?
The judges have spent the last decade preparing me to take on the responsibilities of the office of Superior Court Judge.  They have supervised and guided me in both the procedures and art of judging.  I am intimately familiar with all facets of our court’s operations including courtroom operations, document processing and retention, security, human resources, and interfacing with our justice system partners.  I have hundreds of hours of specialized judicial training in criminal, civil, family, probate, and juvenile proceedings.  I am ready, willing, and able to take on all the responsibilities of the office.

What is your current occupation and the duties of that position?
I currently am employed by Calaveras Superior Court as both Court Commissioner and Research Attorney.  As Court Commissioner I sit as a judge and decide contested matters in civil and family, hearings, settlement conferences, and trials.  As research attorney for the court, all complex criminal and civil matters are referred to me to research the law, analyze the admissible evidence, recommend rulings, and work directly with the judges preparing decisions.  Additionally, I provide legal advice to management on court operations, contracts, accounts receivable and payable, and human resources.

How would you define the caseload make-up (civil, family, etc) of your desired department? And what expertise do you currently have to handle those types of cases?
A judge in a two judge court must be able to handle all case types.  A judge must be able to preside over civil, criminal, family, probate, and juvenile matters; sometimes within the same day.  Each case is important to the parties and while some case types such as juvenile and criminal matters have statutory preference in being heard first, both judges must work together to hear and decide all the cases filed with the court.  I have gained the necessary experience and training in all case types over my 14 years of employment with Calaveras County Superior Court and I stand ready and able to handle any case to which I am assigned.

If you could list one thing in life you are proud you accomplished with regards to your career, what would that be? And why?
Last year I was named California Judicial Officer of the Year.  This award recognized my work as a judge, deciding cases in a fair, reasonable, and timely manner.  The award comes from a decade of work actively managing cases to reduce conflict, attorney’s fees, and delay.

What have you done in the past year, 2014, to further your education?
I am a committee member of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research.  Our committee is comprised of experienced judges and commissioners who analyze changes in state law, develop best practices, and provide education and training on these issues to all the judges in the state.  Additionally, I have received recent judicial education in criminal procedure and sentencing as well as the statewide criminal realignment legislation.

What is your greatest strength?
Judicial experience.  I have presided over more than 25,000 court hearings, settlement conferences and trials.

What is your greatest weakness?
I tend to take more time on contested cases than other judges.  Each party has a fundamental constitutional right to participate in the proceedings and be heard by the judge, before a decision is made.  However, the result of full argument by all parties can be time consuming.  To address undue consumption of time, I implemented tentative rulings for all my cases.  Tentative rulings provide the parties with advance notice of the court’s intended ruling absent new evidence or law.  Thus, only the party that disagrees with the tentative ruling will request to argue.  This saves considerable time for the parties and their attorneys.  Additionally, if both parties are satisfied the tentative ruling is correct, no argument is needed and the hearing ends quickly or is dispensed with altogether.  Thus, I am able to get though a large number of cases but still allow those contested cases to have a full hearing.  Preparing the tentative rulings consumes a great deal of my time, but the time savings for the parties, attorneys, and court staff is considerable.

At this point you may submit a 300 word or less statement covering topics not covered in the before mentioned questions.

It has been an honor to serve Calaveras County, and with your vote I will continue to serve our community for many years to come.