Superior Court Wins Innovation Award
The Superior Court in San Joaquin County has won its third California Judicial Council Award for Improvement in Administration of the Courts, selected from a field of 44 nominees statewide. The annual award recognizes innovation in the courts, and improvements in access and service to the public.
The winning project is a cultural awareness program called "In the Interest of Justice," a 29-minute video and a training manual designed to sensitize judges and court staff to aspects of the Southeast Asian culture that may affect the courtroom experience.
"We are so honored to receive this award," according to Court Commissioner Barbara Kronlund, who provided the primary inspiration and coordinated the project . "It was truly a collaborative effort with community members who told us what was needed. They said that Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian and Vietnamese people often face problems in our court system due to language and custom differences. We hope that this program will help."
Presiding Judge George Abdallah says the response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive locally. "Plus, we've received requests for the tape from courts in other parts of the country," according to Abdallah. "They recognize that this is an excellent training tool."
"In the Interest of Justice" is but one element of the Court's ongoing comprehensive community-focused strategic plan, which began in 1999. The plan is a concerted effort to provide greater understanding and access to the justice system.
The Kleps Award, created in 1991 in honor of Ralph N. Kleps, the first administrative director of the California courts, will be presented at the California Judicial Administration Conference in Newport Beach in February, 2003
In 2000, the San Joaquin County Superior Court was awarded its first Kleps Award for its Jury Compliance and Education Program. The second Kleps Award came in 2001 for the Court-Community Leadership and Liaison Program.