Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Letter to the Editor re: Support for Judge Hugh Swift from Mary Beth Todd

To the Voters of Calaveras County,

I am writing in support of Judge Hugh Swift for Judge of the Calaveras County Superior Court. With almost 30 years of experience working in the trial courts of California, 11 of those years as the Court Executive Officer in Calaveras County (2000-2011), I have worked with dozens of judges, both inside and outside the courtroom, worked with hundreds of defendants, attorneys and court litigants and I know first hand the attributes that make the ideal judge. Judge Hugh Swift has those attributes.

As the current Superior Court Judge, and with five years of experience as a Court Commissioner in Amador County, Judge Swift has proven experience as a judicial officer. You don’t have to guess what his judicial demeanor will be; he has demonstrated it. He is fair, impartial, patient, courteous, prepared, and provides litigants appearing before him the opportunity to be heard. He appropriately considers each case based on its merits and does not allow any bias, political position or preconceived notion to influence his decision-making.

Judge Swift has experience and training in all case types coming before the superior court. With 5 years of experience as a court research attorney, he has read, reviewed and researched some of the most complex legal issues and has reviewed thousands of cases.  Judge Swift’s opponent would lead you to believe that the superior court only hears criminal cases; however the informed voter knows that is not the case.  While the superior court has jurisdiction over felonies, misdemeanors and infractions, it also has jurisdiction over many other case types. The proceedings in these case types are equally important to a civil society and the outcomes of these proceedings may have a profound effect over the individuals involved, their families and the community at large. These case types include but are not limited to:  juvenile proceedings essential for the protection of the community’s children whose parents are unable or not suitable to care for them; domestic violence; child custody/visitation disputes; child support matters; probate/estate proceedings; small claims court where individual citizens can bring disputes of a limited amount for resolution without an attorney; and civil proceedings which include claims for money damages, personal injury, construction defect, contract disputes, and writ proceedings essential to ensuring governmental agencies are properly applying the law. Persons involved in criminal and civil proceedings deserve to have an experienced and knowledgeable judge who can determine the issues fairly and in accordance with the law.  Judge Hugh Swift has that experience and knowledge.

As a court executive officer for 20 years, I am troubled by Judge Swift’s opponent’s trivialization of Judge Swift’s experience as a court executive officer. The court’s executive officer works at the appointment of the judges’ of the superior court and is responsible, under the direction of the presiding judge for the administration of the court’s budget, human resources, and programs to ensure equal access to justice for the citizens of the community it serves. The position requires knowledge of the law, principals of due process, case flow management, public administration and strategic planning. The position oversees the delivery of direct services to the public, works collaboratively with county agencies and justice partners to reduce the number of criminal defendants who reoffend, ensure domestic violence victims can get the orders of protection they require and that citizens have access to dispute resolution forums and options. Many of the court executive officers throughout the State of California are attorneys. Service in this position only gives Judge Swift an even greater perspective from which to approach his judicial duties and to be a leader in the community. This experience is even more important and valuable to the court and community since Judge Swift will assume the duties of the presiding judge with the retirement of Judge John Martin at the end of this year.

The Calaveras County Superior Court has a history of dedication to the mission of providing equal access to justice for all. Judge Hugh Swift will continue this mission and is the best candidate to serve as the judge of your superior court. I strongly encourage you to vote to retain and elect Hugh Swift for Judge of the Superior Court.

Your Friend and former Court Executive Officer,

Mary Beth Todd

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