The Issues

The justice system can be a powerful tool for positive change in our communities, but it can also be a source of harm when injustice is not addressed. As a judge, I will listen openly and respectfully to all arguments and apply the law fairly and impartially to the cases I hear. I will also work within the law to address the biases and injustices that are shown to exist in our justice system.

Many times, impoverished people simply cannot pay the fines for traffic or low level offenses and end up in a cycle of jail time that people of means can avoid. Often a low cash bond at arrest will ensure that a poor person remains incarcerated while someone with means would easily gain their freedom. These inequities must be addressed within the law while continuing to hold people accountable for traffic and criminal offenses. I support programs like the Driver’s License Restoration Project in Orange County which works to help indigent persons responsibly restore their driver’s licenses when they are suspended due to fines that they cannot pay because of their indigency. I also support bail reform to prevent the incarceration of people who are presumed innocent and charged with non-violent crimes simply because they cannot afford a cash bond.

We all know that having a criminal record or even a record of an arrest can be devastating to a person’s attempts at securing employment and being a functioning member of our community. Misdemeanor diversion projects, like Chatham 360° and OC PAD, can help avoid these collateral consequences for young and first-time offenders. I also have served on Orange County’s Re-Entry Council helping those have finished their debt to society re-integrate into the community after prison. I wholeheartedly support programs like these and efforts to help reduce the impact that contact with the justice system can have on people’s lives outside of the punishment they receive.

Drug addiction, especially opioid addiction, is often the fuel for criminal behavior. Many offenders can be rehabilitated by effectively addressing their addiction rather than sentencing them to straight prison or jail time. I support the use of drug courts, treatment alternatives to incarceration where appropriate, and programs like Orange County’s Coordinated Opioid Overdose Reduction Effort. I will also work with our courts’ stakeholders to identify resources for those who need drug treatment.

Many defendants need mental health treatment as part of the rehabilitative efforts of the court system.  I support the use of mental health courts, like Chatham and Orange Counties’ Community Resource Court (CRC) to address the mental health needs of defendants. Our state has cut funding for many mental health treatment programs. I will work with our courts’ stakeholders to identify and to enlist mental health treatment resources for the mentally ill in our court system.

We are all aware of the explicit bias and discrimination that has plagued our justice system.  I support the ongoing struggle to eliminate explicit racial bias in the justice system.  I also recognize implicit, or unconscious, racial bias in our justice system.  I support training and education for all law enforcement, judges, and court stakeholders in recognizing and eliminating implicit bias in our court system.