Danielle Dunham-Ramirez Appointed to San Joaquin County Superior Court Bench

Stockton, CA — The Judges of the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin are pleased to announce the appointment of Danielle Dunham-Ramirez to the position of Superior Court Judge.

Ms. Dunham-Ramirez was appointed to the to the bench by Governor Gavin Newsom to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Roger Ross. Ms. Dunham-Ramirez has served as served as a Deputy County Counsel since 2000. Since 2016, Ms. Dunham-Ramirez has served as the Supervising Child Protective Services Counsel at the Office of the San Joaquin County Counsel. In addition to her duties as a Supervising Attorney, Ms. Dunham-Ramirez was also responsible for advising employees of the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency on issues involving the abuse, neglect, and abandonment
of children.

Prior to her employment at the County Counsels Office, Ms. Dunham-Ramirez served as a Deputy Public Defender at the San Joaquin County Public Defender’s Office where she was appointed by the Court to represent indigent adults and appointed to represent children who were charged with crimes.
Ms. Dunham-Ramirez was admitted to the California State Bar in 1997. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Lincoln Law School of Sacramento.

Ms. Dunham-Ramirez commented on her appointment, “I am humbled and truly grateful for this incredible opportunity to serve the people of San Joaquin County as a Superior Court Judge. Thank you Governor Newsom and Secretary Cespedes for this opportunity.

In 24 years of working in this legal community, I am keenly aware of how uniquely dedicated and passionate its members are at ensuring that San Joaquin County maintains a reputation of one the state’s most exemplary legal communities. I look forward to the awesome responsibility of being a Superior Court Judge and promise I will dedicate myself to ensuring just and fair consideration of issues and cases that come before me.”

Ms. Dunham-Ramirez’s formal and public swearing in ceremony has yet to be scheduled.


Veterans Treatment Court Graduation

1St Graduation under Collaborative Court

August 12, 2022 – 10 a.m.

180 E. Weber Ave., Dept. 3D, Stockton, California

Stockton, CA —  The San Joaquin County Superior Court will hold its Veterans Treatment Court graduation on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 10 a.m. in Department 3D at the Stockton Courthouse, 180 E. Weber Avenue. Court Executive Officer Brandon E. Riley, will preside over the ceremony. A mission of the Veterans Treatment Court is to identify eligible veterans in the criminal justice system and place them into treatment and court   supervision as an alternative to incarceration. This is the 10th ceremony since the Veterans Court was founded in 2015, and first under Collaborative Courts. 

The Veterans Court Graduation will honor 57 military veterans who have successfully completed an intensive program and have pledged to keep marching towards recovery. The program is a combination of judicial supervision, justice partner collaborative efforts and appropriate treatment and support.

A growing number of veterans suffer from trauma (such as traumatic brain injury), mental health conditions (such as PTSD) and substance abuse disorders. Veterans Treatment Court connects these men and women to the benefits and treatment they have earned. There are now more than 350 of these courts in the United States.

“This event allows us to recognize these men and women who worked hard to reach all court mandates. We are proud to fulfill our obligation to bring services, treatment, and  support to our veterans in their fight against the effects of trauma,” said Kelly Placeres, Director of Collaborative Courts.


Public Notice: Receipt of Annual Allocation of the Trial Court Budget After Enactment of the Budget Act of 2022

Stockton, CA —  The Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin is in receipt of the annual allocation of the 2022-2023 trial court budget from the Judicial Council of California following the enactment of the Budget Act of 2022.

California Rule of Court 10.620(f) requires trial courts to provide notice no later than 15 court days after “receipt of the annual allocation of the trial court budget from the Judicial Council after enactment of the Budget Act.” The Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee’s reports to the council provide helpful discussion and detail behind the allocations and can be viewed by following the links below on the California Courts website:

· Trial Court Budget: Allocations from the Trial Court Trust Fund and Trial Court Allocations for 2022-23

· Trial Court Budget | 2022-23 Civil Assessment Backfill Allocation Methodology

· Trial Court Budget: State Trial Court Improvement and Modernization Fund Allocations for 2022-23  

· Trial Court Budget: Fiscal Year 2022-23 Allocation of Court-Appointed Juvenile Dependency Counsel Funding



Stockton, CA — Today, June 30, 2022, the 2021-2022 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury released its final consolidated report. The final consolidated report contains investigative reports, findings and recommendations developed in the 2021-2022 term. Civil grand jurors examine and investigate local governmental activities within San Joaquin County. The responsibilities of the civil grand jury encompass the examination of all aspects of county government, including school and special assessment districts, to ensure that the county is being governed lawfully, efficiently and that public monies are being handled appropriately. The grand jury may conduct investigations of public agencies and the administration and affairs of any city within the county.

Hon. George J. Abdallah, Jr., Supervising Judge of the San Joaquin County Grand Juries commented on the 2021-2022 Civil Grand Jury’s work, saying, “The Judges of the Superior Court of California and the citizens of the County of San Joaquin thank and commend the 2021-2022 Grand Jurors for their conscientious efforts on behalf of all San Joaquin County citizens. The Grand Jurors undertook and completed their duties with great industry, intelligence and care in keeping with the long tradition of San Joaquin County Grand Juries.”

Today, also marks the day the members of the 2022-2023 Civil Grand Jury will be selected and sworn in. The selection and swearing in will take place in Department 3D at 3:00 p.m. The Civil Grand Jury is comprised of 19 citizens who are impaneled annually for a one-year term. The 2022-2023 term begins July 1, 2022.

The public is encouraged to read the final consolidated report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Release Report on Lathrop-Manteca Fire District

Stockton, CA — On June 23, 2022, the 2021-2022 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District (LMFD) in San Joaquin County. The Civil Grand Jury’s duty is to address citizens’ concerns regarding the operation of local government entities.

The LMFD became the focus of public scrutiny following media reports alleging misconduct at a training retreat held in Napa in February of 2021. These media reports detailed instances of inappropriate behavior and the improper use of the district’s credit card for personal services and items prohibited under the district’s credit card policy. When the LMFD Board of Directors learned of these issues, a third party was employed to investigate complaints and personnel issues related to the off-site retreat. The Fire Chief, as Chief Executive Officer of the LMFD, retired from the district at the conclusion of the third party’s investigation and an interim Fire Chief was appointed. The Grand Jury decided to open an investigation after receiving a written complaint and reviewing subsequent media reports of questionable expenditures by LMFD management.

In its investigation, the Grand Jury conducted interviews with key district leadership figures, reviewed the district’s governing rules and regulations, and analyzed staff complaints to determine the depth and accuracy of the allegations against the LMFD. The Grand Jury found the Board of Directors lacked training in government oversight and district polices, inadvertently, granting the former Fire Chief near autonomous authority over the district without including a system of checks and balances or an oversight function by the Board. This lack of Board oversight contributed to a hostile work environment and exposed the LMFD to potential liability including financial penalties.

The Grand Jury’s report details the complete findings of the investigation into allegations of misconduct in the LMFD under the former Fire Chief and provides the Board of Director’s with the framework to conduct the search and screening process for hiring the permanent Fire Chief. The LMFD improvement process is a work in progress but, with a committed Board of Director’s, an opportunity exists to restore trust following the turmoil and upheaval created under previous management.
The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Releases Report on Cyber Security in San Joaquin County

Stockton, CA —  On June 20, 2022, the San Joaquin County 2021-2022 Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating cybersecurity in San Joaquin County.  Cities and local  governments store sensitive information digitally making them vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches that can be disruptive to essential service systems.

In its investigation, the Grand Jury sought to understand the cybersecurity landscape and local governments’ management of their cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. Through research of relevant materials and guidance from information system experts, the Grand Jury was able to provide a framework for evaluating the current state of security and disaster preparedness of the Information Technology systems of San Joaquin County and the seven incorporated cities within the county.

The Grand Jury surveyed San Joaquin County IT department heads and the City Manager or City Administrator of each of the seven cities in the county, and interviewed several  other recognized IT experts, to develop nine defined expectations for adequate cybersecurity ranging from organizational charts to cyber event insurance and ransomware policies. Each agency was then evaluated and the results were tabulated to indicate whether an agency met, did not meet, or was in the process of meeting the nine defined expectations.

In this investigation, the Grand Jury found San Joaquin County to be a model agency in the realm of information technology and maintenance of cybersecurity and learned from cybersecurity experts that three key elements lead to maximum agency cybersecurity:

•    A dedicated information security position within each organization.

•    A “seat at the table” with other agency department heads in regular meetings.

•    A rigorous employee education and training program in cybersecurity matters.

The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Releases Report on SUSD: A Failing Grade in Public Trust

Stockton, CA — The 2021-2022 Grand Jury received complaints alleging the Stockton Unified School District’s (SUSD) management and Board of Trustees were not adhering to policies and procedures regarding financial transactions and funds were not being used in the best interest of students, families, staff, and district. An investigation into these allegations was opened and the Grand Jury’s report was released on June 17, 2022.

The Grand Jury focused the scope of its investigation on SUSD’s financial management, Board transparency, and Board duty of care. To gain an understanding of the issues presented in the allegations against SUSD, the Grand Jury conducted more than 30 interviews, attended virtual Board meetings, and reviewed relevant documents, websites, and newspaper articles.

Stockton Unified School District has served students and families since 1852 and is the 15th largest school district in California. The Business Services Department (BSD) is directly responsible for all financial management of the district including accounting, budgeting, investments, and compliance with State and Federal reporting requirements. Due to the retirement and separation of numerous long-term employees in the past year, the BSD was not staffed to operational levels necessary to insure proper fiscal management. Deficiencies in training, experience, and knowledge of the requirements for financial reporting resulted in missed opportunities to secure grant funding, inconsistent implementation of the district’s financial policies and procedures, and a projected budget deficit by fiscal year 2024-25, if not sooner.

The Board of Trustees often made crucial decisions with minimal data, knowledge, and consideration and showed consistent disregard for Board Bylaws. The Grand Jury found a lack of transparency and apparent conflicts of interest exist that undermine the Board’s credibility, thereby, reducing public trust and confidence in the district. These failures by senior leadership and the Board of Trustees in SUSD has put the district’s future solvency at risk and drastic changes will need to be implemented to avoid financial catastrophe.

The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


Public Notice: Beware of Telephone Scams

There have been numerous telephone scams over the past year involving individuals identifying themselves as representatives of the Superior Court or other public agency. In these scams, citizens are contacted by phone by someone claiming to be with the court, sheriff, or other affiliated public agency. The person is either told they are late paying a court fine, have an open warrant, have failed to report for jury duty, or something else related to the court system. Victims are being told that if they do not pay the caller (via credit card, Apple iTunes cards, or bank routing number, etc.) they will have additional penalties added or go to jail. Calls sometimes come from various 800 numbers that when used appear to duplicate a public agency’s phone system in order to give the impression of credibility.

Please note that these calls are fraudulent and have no connection to the Superior Court. Court personnel will never ask for personal information over the phone such as social security numbers, credit card accounts, or bank routing numbers. If you receive a phone call from someone making these claims and asking for personal or financial information, hang up and immediately report the situation to local law enforcement.

Additional information related to telephone and email fraudulent activity is available on the FBI’s public website at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes

If you get such a call, report it to your local law enforcement agency and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/


Collaborative Courts to Hold Graduation Ceremony

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2022—4:00 P.M.

Bob Hope Theater, 242. E. Main Street, Stockton, CA

Stockton, CA — Over 170 participants of the Collaborative Courts have successfully completed one of the court rehabilitation programs at the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin over the past year. On Wednesday, May 4, 2022, we will celebrate this achievement with a commencement ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Bob Hope Theater, 242 E. Main Street, Stockton, CA.

Collaborative Courts is a division of the Superior Court, which combines judicial supervision with monitoring and rehabilitation to reduce recidivism by addressing issues that contribute to criminal behavior. With the goal of improving public safety and client outcomes, these courts also are known as problem-solving courts. Collaborative Courts focuses on utilizing data-driven, evidence-based practices, comprehensive evaluation and assessment plans to improve the quality of the lives of the people we serve.

“San Joaquin Superior Collaborative Court is honored to host our annual graduation ceremony for our well-deserved participants.  It’s an opportunity to celebrate people from our community working to reach their next level of success.  Our participants worked hard to meet court dates and to complete service needs. The completion of this one-year program is no easy feat; however, the commitment was substantial, knowing failure was not an option.  We believe that positive opportunities like this are an essential step toward the success of our community”- Kelly Placeres, Director of Collaborative Courts.

The graduation program will feature:

Key Note Speaker – Dennis Gaxiola. Dennis Gaxiola is one of America’s funniest clean comedians. The Air Force veteran and preacher’s son has appeared on Comedy Central, stars, NBC and has a dry bar comedy special that has garnered over 150,000,000 views.

Graduate Speaker – David Batton. David Batton came to Compliance Court homeless, broken and unsure of the Court’s unusual approach to assisting his needs. He had been living behind a dumpster, and once told the Judge that he wanted to die an addict. However, despite his despondence he continued to make his court appearances. David was placed in a sober living home and received outpatient treatment. Once David embraced the process of recovery, he started counting the days he was clean and sober, sharing the incremental milestones with pride. David completed his treatment program and attained full-time employment. He continues to frequent support groups. He shared his goal with the court team that he wants to be a peer mentor to other Collaborative Court participants, and has initiated that process. We are all very proud of David Batton as he moves towards a very independent, positive and productive life. 

Collaborative Courts, a division fully supported by grants, includes Drug Court (Track 1 and 2), Dependency Drug Court (PROP 1 and 2), DUI Court, Parole Reentry Court,      Veterans Court, three AB109 reentry courts – Compliance Court, Monitoring Court, Mandatory Supervision Court, and the “Choices and Consequences” prevention program, which are school presentations that aim to deter middle school and high school students from using drugs and alcohol.

For more information, please contact Kelly Placeres at 992-5225.


Department L-2 to Close

Effective Monday, April 18, 2022, Department L-2 and one of the Clerk’s Offices at the Lodi Branch Court will close. Department L-2 is located at 315 W. Elm Street, Lodi, CA 95240.

With the closure of Department L-2, all small claims, unlawful detainer (landlord-tenant), name changes, limited civil, civil harassment and traffic cases, and Fish and Game and City Ordnance matters will be heard at the main Stockton Courthouse located at 180 E. Weber Avenue, Stockton, CA 95202. Criminal matters currently scheduled in Department L-2 will be heard in Department L-1. Parties to cases with hearings scheduled in Department L-2 for dates on or after April 18, 2022, will receive notice of their new court date and department at the Stockton courthouse. All related filings are to be filed at the Stockton courthouse. There is no estimate on when Department L-2 will reopen.

Department L-1 and the other Clerk’s Office located at 217 W. Elm Street, Lodi, CA 95240 will remain open to hear criminal cases.