Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Page 3


Santa Clara Judge Named Rehnquist Award Recipient


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A Santa Clara Superior Court judge with a national reputation in the juvenile justice field has been named recipient of the 2004 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence by the National Center for State Courts, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported yesterday.

The award is presented annually to a state court judge “who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics,” the NCSC explained in a release. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will present the award to Judge Leonard Edwards at a ceremony Nov. 18 in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Edwards, the son of liberal stalwart and former Rep. Don Edwards of San Jose, “is one of the most effective and progressive trial judges in America, especially in the area of juvenile and family courts,” center President Mary Campbell McQueen said in a statement. “Judge Edwards stands out, not only for his numerous achievements, but also for his leadership style, which has positively influenced courts in California, the nation, and the world,” she added.

Santa Clara Superior Court Presiding Judge Richard Turrone, who nominated Edwards, for the award, called him “an extraordinary judge and an innovative thinker.” Edwards, the presiding judge said in his nominating letter, “has had a broad impact on the judiciary, primarily in juvenile and family courts, domestic violence prevention and intervention, judicial leadership, court coordination, and children in courts.”

The NCSC noted that the juvenile dependency court in Santa Clara County was designated a national model by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges under Edwards’ leadership. “This court is one of the most visited courts in the country, with hundreds of legal professions traveling there to observe and learn the model practices Judge Edwards implemented, such as dependency court mediation, family group conferencing, direct calendaring, and court coordination,” the center said.

 Edwards also established his county’s drug court, one of the first in the country, in 1999. The NCSC also cited his efforts, in conjunction with Rotary International, to provide permanent homes for street children in Latin America. “Most notably, in Brazil he worked to persuade judges to consider placing homeless children with families instead of institutions,” the center said.

Edwards has won numerous state and local awards for his judicial and community work, including a Judicial Council’s Distinguished Service Award given last year, and is the author of numerous articles on family law and juvenile justice issues. 

The California Wellness Foundation named him in 1996 as a recipient of its $25,000 California Peace Prize Award. The foundation cited Edwards’ anti-violence efforts as a juvenile court judge and citizen in awarding him the prize, although he declined the cash award after then-Attorney General Dan Lungren opined that he would be violating the state’s ban on gifts to public officials.

Two other California judges have received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence: Chief Justice Ronald M. George in 2002 and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Veronica S. McBeth, then of Los Angeles Municipal Court, in 1998.


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