Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Ronald Overholt Named Interim Director of the Courts
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Chief Deputy Director of the Courts Ronald G. Overholt is poised to take the reins of the judiciary’s administration on Sept. 10, as the interim successor of William C. Vickrey, who has served as chief staff administrator of the state court system for nearly two decades, officials said yesterday.
Overholt has served as chief deputy under Vickrey for the past 11 years and stands to inherit an agency rocked by controversy over its perceived lack of transparency, courthouse construction and hiring practices during times of fiscal crisis, and continued investment in a $1.9 billion case management system.
Earlier this year California Assembly members Ricardo Lara and Bonnie Lowenthal called on the Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye to oust Vickrey in the wake of a scathing report from the state auditor—conducted at the request of Lowenthal—for his “staggering mismanagement” of the technology project, but Vickrey, who announced his retirement plans shortly thereafter, has said his decision to quit his post was not motivated by the lawmakers’ criticisms.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye remarked that the appointment of Overholt “ensur[es] an integrated transition of leadership at the Administrative Office of the Courts and the continuity of excellence in the administration of statewide courts” since Overholt “is intimately familiar with the statewide budget process and many other aspects of court administration.”
No timetable was given for selecting a permanent director, but the AOC said in a release that the Judicial Council, which met in San Francisco Friday, had asked the chief justice to appoint “a small committee” to develop a selection process.
San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin A. Enright, chair of the Judicial Council’s Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, praised Overholt as “an excellent appointment,” whose leadership “will provide consistency in our judicial branch during these unprecedented and difficult economic times.”
Overholt said he was “so honored to serve the courts, the public, and the AOC as Interim Administrative Director of the Courts,” and that he “could not be more proud to be a member of the staff of the AOC and to lead its work.”
Kern Superior Court Judge David Lampe, serving as a spokesperson for the Alliance of California Judges yesterday expressed some concern that Overholt “has been closely tied to AOC policies in the past,” but emphasized that the group’s criticisms of existing branch management dealt with “structural issues,” and “has nothing to do with personalities or individuals.”
Lampe predicted that “whoever is ultimately chosen as the new director will undoubtedly be required to oversee a significant dismantling of the Administrative Office of the Courts,” and is “going to have to be dealing with changes,” such as the direct funding of trial courts by the Legislature proposed in AB 1208.
The measure, by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, was placed on a two-year track in June, but Lampe said alliance members “expect those changes to take place, and we are committed to those changes.”
Before joining the AOC, Overholt served the Alameda Superior Court as its executive officer, jury commissioner, and clerk. Prior to this, he was part of the management of the San Diego Superior Court from 1979 until 1988.
Overholt is past president of the California Association for Superior Court Administration and a former member of the board of directors of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.
He has served as an advisory member of the Judicial Council of California, as chair of the Judicial Council’s Court Executives Advisory Committee, and as a member of the Judicial Council’s Executive and Planning Committee.
The administrator also served as a member of the Judicial Council’s Trial Court Budget Commission, Trial Court Funding Task Force, for which he chaired the Task Force Subcommittee on the Status of Trial Court Employees, and the Task Force on Trial Court Employees.
In 2010, Overholt received the National Center for State Court’s Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the national organization. Overholt was honored by the Judicial Council in 1997 with the Distinguished Service Award for Court Administration, and in 2007 he received the Dale Sipes’ Spirit of Justice Award from the AOC.
He holds a master’s degree in public administration from National University in San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Diego State University.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company