County Court Flack Joe Macaluso Out of Job in Mysterious Fashion

Santa Clara County’s Superior Court has gone through a number of major leadership changes in recent months. Last fall, the court’s chief executive, David H. Yamasaki, left for a similar job in Orange County. A month later, Rebecca Fleming traded her CEO gig in Stanislaus County to succeed him. Around the same time, the Hon. Patricia Lucas was appointed presiding judge and the Hon. Deborah Ryan assistant presiding judge for the 2017-18 term. The above-mentioned changing of the guard was duly documented in a series of press releases and a few news reports. However, a more recent staffing change involving a lesser-ranked but semi-visible court official has aroused suspicions.

Joe Macaluso

Joe Macaluso (Photo via LinkedIn)

Joe Macaluso, the court’s generously compensated public information officer (he made $135,490 in 2015), left sometime in early February without fanfare or even a perfunctory email to reporters about whom to contact in his stead. Court General Counsel Lisa Herrick declined to say whether Macaluso resigned or was fired, but she did note that the court hasn’t yet decided whether it will even replace the loquacious flack. Handling media relations for the time being is one Benjamin Rada, a former musician and Stanford alumnus who worked his way up from clerk to secretary and, as of last month, to communications. Some observers are convinced Macaluso was sacked. Fly reached out to him for comment but didn’t hear back by press time. That’s to be expected, though. Macaluso rarely responded in a timely manner to media requests, and that’s according to reporters beyond just San Jose Inside. Long before Macaluso left, however, it appears other people were already doing his job for him. Rada has been handling court access requests from TV stations and photographers since last summer, and Herrick has been the more reliable point person for journalists for several months now. Given how evasive Macaluso was with local reporters, however, it’s likely his absence won’t be mourned by local journalists.

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8 Comments

  1. > Joe Macaluso, the court’s generously compensated public information officer (he made $135,490 in 2015), . . .

    $135 K to NOT respond to information requests?

    I can do that job. Where do I sign up?

    • Nor did he respond to media requests and both were his job to inform the public. He was keeping really big secrets and his leaving may be he fall of the house of cards.

  2. Why does this position exist? Are the Judges not articulate?

    Meanwhile, there are not enough clerks to timely process traffic tickets!

  3. I have had dealings with Macaluso in the context of requesting court and public records under state law. Contrary to public records law, Macaluso would probe me as to why I was requesting the records. For comparison purposes, I once requested the same records from six other counties, all of which provided the records. Macaluso claimed not to have the records and said they were held by the Judicial Council. A lie.

    Macaluso’s mysterious departure may be evidence of another crack in the wall of secrecy surrounding Santa Clara County Superior Court which, like clockwork, is scandalized every few years. In 2006 it was the Stolen Justice series, and in 2012 the Loss of Trust series, both published by the San Jose Mercury.

    A new scandal involving the family law division of the court reportedly is ripe. Court counsel Lisa Herrick needs to choose sides, and decide whether she serves the public or the ethically-challenged court administrators and judges. We’re all watching Lisa.

    Thank you for reporting this and please stay with the story. There is more here than meets the eye.

    • Alexa is very insightful and yes the 2012 article should have shaped up the courts and shook out the crooks, it didn’t

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