Santa Clara Superior Court

County Court Fails the Most Vulnerable

This weekend the Mercury News published an excellent story that exposed abuses by Santa Clara County court-appointed officials who take advantage of elderly and incapacitated adults whose finances have been placed under control of the county. Investigative reporter Karen de Sá found that some court-appointed personal and estate managers charge expensive and questionable fees, and judges often sign off with little scrutiny. These finance managers basically drew down their clients’ accounts until little to no money was left in the trust funds and their clients were forced to depend on government assistance. In one case, a Belmont dementia patient was charged $1,062 to help celebrate her birthday.

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You Be the Judge

Electing a judge for the Santa Clara County Superior Court is usually more about comfort level than name recognition. To put it bluntly: People prefer female judges. That might be why an unknown attorney named Alex Cerul listed his first name as Alexis on the ballot for the June 5 primary. Cerul, a staff attorney for the county, faces the battle-tested Paul Colin out of the District Attorney’s office. With more than 35 judges endorsing Colin in the race, one would think the deputy DA is a shoo-in to replace the retiring Jerome Brock on the bench (he got Brock’s endorsement). But insiders think Cerul has a shot based on “The Ritchie Effect,” named after the shocking 2008 upset scored by Superior Court judge Diane Ritchie.

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