Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Remarks of Incoming CJA President Alan D. Hardcastle
(The California Judges Association provided the following text of remarks by its new president, Sonoma Superior Court Judge Alan D. Hardcastle, at the joint swearing-in of officers of the CJA and the State Bar of California, which took place in Monterey this past Saturday.)
I take over the office of president after an outstanding year of leadership. As president, Judge David Rubin has led our organization through challenging budgetary times and has been a powerful advocate for all judges before the Governor, the legislature and the judicial Council. Some people have told me that I have big shoes to fill. Frankly, I’ve noticed that his shoes are not all that large—but that he does have many, many pairs of shoes. But, David, you have left me a tough act to follow.
President Kelly, I have read your comments about making court funding and the restoration of adequate funding, your top priority. Please know that you can call upon me at any time to help you in those efforts....
Before I begin my remarks, I must introduce someone who is quite important to me. Last month, we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. She is both my lighthouse beacon and the steady hand on the tiller. She is the best thing that ever happened to me, and she is my wife Vickie. (Thanks also to the members of the Sonoma County Superior Court [who are] present. I’m really going to be a leaning on them over the next year.)
This year has been a total roller coaster for me. I cannot tell you how honored I am to have been elected president of such an outstanding organization as the California judges Association. To be standing here today, as the new president, is truly a highlight for me. However, I will not succeed without the help of our outstanding executive board and the help of our entire membership. The theme of this year’s CJA annual meeting is: “all rise, when one court rises, we all rise.” Another way of saying that we are all in this together.
This year has been a personally challenging year as well.
Let me speak from the heart for a moment as I talk about the worst month of my life. On March 17, my father died suddenly. My mother passed away just seven days later. Obviously, my world and my family were turned upside down.
In the next few days and weeks, I received phone calls, text messages, e-mails and cards from David Rubin and Stan Bissey, executive director of CJA. I also received e-mails, cards and an outpouring of support from my local bench and from the CJA executive board and members of CJA. It brought home to me that CJA is a family. They rallied to my support. I will never forget their kindness at a time of great despair.
If they are family—then [the] bar is our group of the cousins—so, if you’re in this room you are part of one big family and folks, we are a family in crisis.
Like a lot of families, it is a crisis caused by not having enough money to conduct our family’s business. Like a family in crisis we need to pull together, unite and work collectively to convince those who fund us, that keeping the third branch of government open, operating and accessible is necessary to prevent a constitutional crisis in this state. Without open, fully staffed courtrooms justice is delayed.
It is an old cliché that justice delayed is justice denied. And, justice denied to even one means there is no justice for all.
As the president of CJA, as a trial court judge, as a citizen of the state California—that is unacceptable. That is my message that I will be carrying all over the state and primarily to our decision-makers in Sacramento. I will pledge to work as hard as I can for our Association and our member judges, commissioners and referees. It is said that the table manners change when the pie gets smaller and we have seen that in our branch. Courts may have disparate interests depending on needs, size or location, but as individual judges there is much more that unites us. CJ a will continue to be a big tent organization that allows discussion and debate on the issues that are important to us. Most importantly, we must keep our courtrooms open and we must ensure equal access to justice to all stakeholders.
Need for Unity
My theme for this year is that we must unify as judges, as members of the bar, and as members of the public who have an interest in seeing that our branch of government survive and succeed. Like all families, we may have disagreements. Justice Carol Corrigan, in her remarks to the judicial Council at the end of August said the following regarding disagreement within the judicial branch: “that is not to say that we will always agree. Bright and insightful people of goodwill do sometimes disagree. Often the best ideas flow from their ongoing discussions about those different views.”
Her words are exactly right. We make better decisions when we debate and discuss. But we cannot lose sight of the mission or the goal. At this time, like a family coming to the Thanksgiving table, we must ensure that the front door is open and that everyone can get to a seat at the table. Once seated, we need to ensure that there is adequate food on the table to feed everyone. Once we have met that goal, then that may be the time to discuss whether, two years ago, Mama should use the stainless steel flatware instead of the sterling silver. Only when everyone is at the table and their needs are met, should we have the debate about whether the dinner fork goes on the right or the left.
Justice Corrigan closes her remarks by saying “Much work remains and new challenges will surely arise. We can meet them if all parts of the branch watch closely, share openly, discuss collegially and work together to serve the people of California from whom, we should not forget, our authority derives.”
Our Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts just concluded a valuable and critical self-assessment. We must continue to build on that assessment and work collectively and maintain vigilance to protect our branch of government. We must not forget the lessons of the past, but we must not let yesterday take up too much of today. If I have learned anything as a lawyer and as a judge it is that time spent getting even would be better spent trying to ahead. When one court rises, we all rise.
So, family, you know what must be done; it is time to go to work.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company