Every year the Judges’ Luncheon is one of the most highly anticipated and well-attended events of the MCBA year. One would not think that the announcement of judicial assignments would be such an entertaining or informative event, but Presiding Judge Paul Haakenson managed to enliven the crowd this year as he revealed the new assignments of his colleagues with just the right amount of humor and fanfare in his clever digital presentation. Almost none of the bench was left unscathed in the announcements and the face of both the civil and criminal benches will be significantly changed in the coming year.

The Civil Division comprises Assistant Presiding Judge Andrew E. Sweet (Dept. E), Judge James Chou (Dept. B), and Supervising Judge Stephen Freccero (Dept. A). Judge Roy O. Chernus will tackle the Civil harassment hearings in Dept. C and Judge Kelly V. Simmons will continue to manage the Probate Calendar in Dept. G.

Family Law will expand to three vertical departments with Judge Verna Adams as Supervising Judge (Dept. H); Judge Mark Talamantes in Dept. L, and Judge Sheila Shah Lichtblau in Dept. K.

The Criminal Division will be presided over by Supervising Judge Kelly V. Simmons (Dept. J), who with Judge Haakenson (Dept. F) and Judge Geoffrey Howard (Dept. D) will each handle vertical criminal departments. Judge Beth Jordan will be running the misdemeanor calendar in Dept. M and Judge Beverly Wood will be assigned the Juvenile Division. We will continue to have Trial Departments that regularly take out misdemeanor cases and motions to suppress that will be presided over by Judge Chernus and Judge Beverly Wood (Dept. G).

Marin is home to several specialty courts which are designed to handle unique and often challenging cases. In addition to their regular assignments, the judges will handle these courts as well, which include the STAR Mental Health Court (Judge Lichtblau), the Adult Drug Court (Judge Haakenson), and the Family Violence Court (Judge Howard).

In addition to the judicial changes at 3501 Civic Center Drive, the MCBA is pleased to announce its new slate of Officers and Directors, which was approved at last month’s membership meeting. Leading the MCBA next year will be President Charles Dresow, Ragghianti & Freitas; President-Elect Susan Feder, Mediation panelist with Judicate West; Treasurer J. Timothy Nardell, Nardell, Chitsaz & Associates; Secretary Robert Rosborough, Monty White; and Five-Year Past President David Feingold, Ragghianti & Freitas. Joining the Board as Directors are Habib Bentaleb, Ahtossa Fullerton, Kelley Reid, Michael Chaput, and Sarah Leger, who will each serve three-year terms.

A special thanks to the Board’s departing Directors: Alan Brayton, Nicole Çabalette, Damon Connolly, and Christian Martinez. Also transitioning from the Board will be Caroline Joachim, who served as both Secretary and Treasurer over her six-year tenure, and Jessica Karner, our outgoing Five-Year Past President. Please join me in thanking all of the outgoing board members and officers and welcoming the new slate of officers and directors. We are looking forward to an exciting transition to next year.

Based on the positive feedback from last year’s event, we are once again presenting the annual MCLE Fair, scheduled for November 29, 2018 at the Embassy Suites. We are returning to a full-day event and will offer the presentations in a one-track format. The MCLE Fair is jointly sponsored by MCBA, Marin County Women Lawyers, and the Marin County Legal Professionals Association. The Attorney Track will provide seven CLEs addressing Ethics, Elimination of Bias, and Substance Abuse. Topics include the Updated Rules of Professional Conduct (which also pertains to compliance for paralegals), Regulations in Cannabis Law, Ethical Mediation, and Media & Pop Culture on Trial Outcomes. Our keynote speaker is Ann O'Leary, a respected leader in the non-profit, philanthropic and political space, and law partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. She will talk about how you can put your legal skills and bar license to work for social justice as part of the transformative movements of the day. Join us for this full educational day that includes breakfast and lunch. Get those CLE requirements done before February 1! For your staff, the Legal Professionals track offers six presentations and the keynote lunch. Programs include Expert Discovery: Requesting Documents, Setting Depositions and Trial Appearance; and Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication: What Should Be On Your Checklist.

One of my regrets this year has been the decrease of Section events and programs during the calendar year. Although there are several sections that have continued to hold many informative and consistent programs, (ADR, Probate & Estate Planning, Family Law and Labor & Employment for example), many of the other Sections have not met regularly. In an effort to understand the reasons behind the decline in Section involvement by the membership we are hosting a Section Chair event on November 8 at State Room Brewery in San Rafael. We are hopeful that this brain-storming and networking event will result in improved involvement in our Sections. A list of our current Section Chairs can be found on the MCBA’s website, so if you are interested in getting more involved in a section that relates to your practice, please reach out to the appropriate Chairperson.

I close this month’s message with a request that members carefully review the articles featured in this month’s newsletter, which touch on two issues that are impacting our county and the nation as a whole: homelessness and mental illness. These two issues, often intertwined, frequently result in individuals becoming entrenched in the criminal justice and civil litigation systems. Please read the articles for some excellent insights into how our legal community is addressing these challenging issues.

See you around the Courts.