A 20-year-old Windsor man behind a rash of commercial burglaries was the first to be sentenced in Sonoma County under a new state law that requires certain offenders to serve their time in local jails rather than state prison. The law, designed to reduce prison overcrowding, may be the biggest change to the county’s criminal justice system in a generation. Some are concerned that local officials are not equipped to handle hundreds of additional offenders entering the county jail and probation system each year.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s raid on courthouse construction funds to balance the state budget means Sonoma County will likely wait another year before its aging facility is replaced. The county is now looking at 2016 until it gets a new courthouse — and construction could be put off even longer.
Wal-Mart’s expansion of its Rohnert Park store hit a bump Thursday when a Sonoma County judge ruled more work is needed on noise and parking issues.
The state has released a draft environmental review of the proposed new Sonoma County criminal courthouse — a $179 million, six-story building that would be next to the old jail in the county administration complex in Santa Rosa.
A shift in the way interpreters are deployed in Sonoma County’s juvenile court has touched off a dispute between the unionized translators and cost-cutting administrators over how best to serve the growing number of people who don’t speak English.
The proportion of women judges on the Sonoma County Superior Court bench exceeds the state average but minority representation continues to lag, according to a new study. But changes came to Sonoma County’s bench within days of the Judicial Council survey.
Santa Rosa’s City Council has dismissed the case of the new downtown courthouse. Despite appeals from those who said it could boost the downtown economy, the council voted 4-3 on Tuesday not to encourage the state to build its new $180 million criminal courthouse downtown.
The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but state Sen. Noreen Evans thinks she has found a way to make them turn faster. A new law, authored by Evans, allows civil litigants to opt for smaller juries and strict limits on the length of a trial. “This makes the administration of justice more efficient and effective,” the Santa Rosa Democrat said.
It’s a little late in the game, but Santa Rosa is still hoping the state can be convinced to build a new $180 million criminal courthouse downtown. State judicial officials last year rejected the idea of constructing the courthouse on the site of the downtown post office on Second Street after concluding it couldn’t be done quickly enough.
Cotati attorney Anthony Wheeldin will get a crash course in jurisprudence when he takes the bench as Sonoma County’s newest Superior Court commissioner. He’ll preside over traffic court, the place where many county residents get their first taste of the legal system.