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Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) online

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courtrooms at City Hall were necessarily devoted to the hearing of
criminal matters. This has resulted in severe security problems. The
shortage of space has also required potential Jurors to wait, sometimes
for a full day, in hallways in the Hall of Justice and City Hall. Dur-
ing these delays, the only attempt toward making their wait comfortable
has consisted of the sparse placement of chairs through the halls. The
potential of harassment of those Jurors who, for lack of a Jury holding
room, were required to wait outside courtrooms, during recesses of
trials, was ever present. This situation has been a cause for concern
of several past Grand Juries. However, since several initiatives which
would have provided funds to build adequate courtroom facilities were
defeated at the polls, there has seemed to be no viable answer for the

In June of 1977, through the indefatigable efforts of Supe-
rior Court Judge Henry Rolph, Presiding Judge at the time, a grant was
finally obtained through the Public Works Act. The $4.8 million will
be used to build an additional two floors above one section of the Hall
of Justice building. This addition to the building was proposed when
the Hall of Justice building was originally designed and built and the
building will readily lend itself to the construction. The new section
of the building will house six courtrooms- four for the hearing of
criminal matters by the Superior Court and two for Municipal Court.
One section of the building will be devoted to the comfort and protec-
tion of those San Francisco citizens who are called for Jury duty. The
two Superior Courts presently in California Hall will be housed in City
Hall along with other civil courts; the four criminal courts now in
City Hall will return to the Hall of Justice where security can be main-
tained. The many problems which have existed for so long with regard
to courtroom facilities will be resolved.



During the latter part of 1976, a new system for the
selection of potential Jurors was instituted under the direction of
Frederick Whisman, Superior Court Executive Officer. Traditionally,
San Francisco Jurors have been selected entirely from the rolls of


SUPERIOR COURT (continued)

registered voters. Although many citizens were more than willing
to serve in this important position, there were a few who felt that
jury service was a penalty which was given upon their voting regis-
tration. In order to broaden the selection base, Mr. Whisman began
a new policy of combining lists of registered voters with lists
obtained through the Department of Motor Vehicles of drivers'
license holders. It appears to this Grand Jury that the selection
process is a much more equitable procedure.

Court Calendar

During the early 1970* s criminal cases awaiting trial had
risen to an all-time high. In 1971, for instance, there were up to
750 cases waiting for assignment to the criminal courtrooms. In
criminal cases, the time for trial is statutorily imposed. Defen-
dants, being aware of the calendar problems, were demanding
immediate trial with the expectation that, if no courts were available,
their cases would necessarily be dismissed. It was as a result of
this congestion in the courts that two additional Superior Court
Judges were appointed. Presently, San Francisco has between one
hundred forty and one hundred sixty cases at any given time awaiting
criminal trials. It is now ranked among the best in California for
its smooth-running criminal calendar.

With regard to civil trials, there is a fifteen to
eighteen month waiting period after the filing of an At Issue Memo-
randum by either of the contesting parties. This waiting time has
remained constant for five or six years. Although this time seems
somewhat exorbitant, the Courts indicate that many attorneys file
their At Issue Memoranda substantially in advance of the time they
are actually ready for trial and then depend upon this long wait
to conduct discovery. In the case of personal injury cases, which
comprise fifty-five percent of civil cases heard in this County, the
attorneys require at least this amount of time for the injured
party's condition to stabilize so that the final effects can be
more realistically determined.

San Francisco's mandatory settlement conference assists
to a large degree in the disposition of cases. Presently, approxi-
mately ninety percent of those cases which are filed are settled
before trial. This provides substantial savings in court costs to
San Francisco taxpayers as well as to the litigants themselves.

Bailiffs in the Courtrooms

The l°75-76 Grand Jury pointed out some of the problems
inherent in the assignment of Bailiffs to the individual courtrooms.
Bailiffs were found to working extraordinary schedules — leaving
early if the particular Judge to whom they were assigned no longer
required their assistance, falling to report for other duties


SUPERIOR COURT (continued)

if their courtroom was closed for a particular day — and, in all,
were not available for service during those hours required of other
Deputies in the Sheriff's Department or, for that matter, during
those hours required of City employees as a whole. Additionally,
there was some concern over the fact that the Bailiffs were perform-
ing clerical functions and other assignments not a part of the pro-
tection aspect of their Jobs which was the total reason for their
placement in the courtrooms.

Following criticism by the citizens, the Sheriff's
Department began to withdraw Bailiffs from some of the Courtrooms.
Under State Law, the attendance of a Sheriff's Deputy in all court-
rooms is mandated. A number of Superior Court Judges, upon finding
that their courtroom Bailiffs had been withdrawn, felt compelled
to close their courts.

It is the opinion of this Grand Jury that, until the
State Legislature sees fit to amend this law, it is the Sheriff's
duty to provide adequate Deputies to staff each courtroom. We feel
that the recent decision by the Sheriff's Department in response to
this dilemma is highly acceptable. The present system entails the
assignment of Deputies to the courtrooms on a rotating basis so that
the Deputies retain original responsibility for protection of the
Court, and those persons in the courtrooms, in their capacities as
Deputies of the Sheriff's Department. Then, if a courtroom is
closed early, or opens late, the Bailiff should have the responsi-
bility to assist with other functions in the Sheriff's Department.


Traffic Fines Bureau

During the past fiscal year, the number of parking
citations issued by the Police Department was reduced to an average
of 110,000 per month. This reduction was due to the reassignment
of those Officers formerly performing solo motorcycle detail. This
has not, however, had great impact on the revenue produced by
traffic citations. In 1975, it was determined that fines for park-
ing meter violations should be increased from $3 to $5. Other
parking violation fines were also increased. These increases were,
among other things, due to the number of people who found it less
expensive to park at a meter for the day rather than pay the parking
fees charged by private parking lots, especially in the downtown
area. This was really not the intention behind the provision of
street parking and, with the limited number of spaces available, we
feel that the increase in fines was Justified. Because of the
increases, San Francisco Municipal Court recovered $9,800,000 through
traffic violation fines during fiscal year 1976-77.

In 1973 a computerized system for the recovery of traffic



fines was instituted. Prior to that time, the Municipal Court Clerk's
office was simply not able to process the citations and receipts
therefrom in a timely manner. A severe backlog resulted in the
delayed processing of fine receipts , the duplicate billing of persons
who had previously remitted the amounts required and a multitude of
other problems. The Electronic Data Processing center has alleviated
a number of the problems.

This year the Municipal Court was budgeted $25,000 to
retain an independent consultant to review its procedures, both in
its general office work and computer services. The consultant
retained has submitted a preliminary report suggesting, among other
things, radical changes and streamlining of the computer system.
For instance, it has been the procedure to enter all information
regarding each traffic citation. Since sixty percent of the
citations are paid within thirty days, the consultant suggested that
only a minimum of information need be entered into the computer
immediately. If the citation is not paid timely, information required
for collection activities could then be entered. Daniel Donahue,
Municipal Court Clerk, is quite enthused about the proposed organi-
zational changes suggested by the consultant and is working closely
with the company toward implementing them. Mr. Donahue estimates
that savings in the magnitude of several hundred thousand dollars
may- accrue to the City each year due to the new operations.

We feel that comment should be made on the superb organi-
zational and administrative talents displayed by former Presiding
Judge Albert C. Wollenberg, Jr. Judge Wollenberg served as
Presiding Judge for a short period of nine months, however, during
his term, a number of noteworthy changes were accomplished. Among
these was a revision with regard to those funds allocated annually
to the design and programming firm retained to set up and improve
upon the EDP system. Each year a blanket amount was designated for
its use in setting up new programs which were scheduled. There was
very little, it any, follow-through after that time to see that
programs were installed timely or that they were installed at all.
Judge Wollenberg instituted a program whereby, instead of the lump
sum being transferred immediately, only a portion would be delivered
at the beginning of the fiscal year. The remaining amounts would
be transferred only upon the submission of work orders setting forth
the modifications and changes. The Court then verifies that the
work has been done. During the last fiscal year, £35»000 was returned
to the City coffers for work scheduled to be performed but which
was not accomplished during the year.

Beginning in January of 1978, the EDP system will
coordinate with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento with
regard to unpaid traffic citations. It has traditionally been the
procedure of the Municipal Court to issue warrants for the arrest
of those citizens who had, for any number of reasons, failed to pay



the citations issued. Under SB 192, the DMV will, after January 1,
1Q78, refuse to register any automobile to a person who has citations
which remain unpaid. In addition to the positive humanitarian aspects
of this procedure, this will also eliminate a large number of false
arrest suits which have previously been filed. Perhaps the State
should consider expanding this program to include withholding of
drivers' licenses, for people who don't own automobiles.

Small Claims

On January 1, 1977, the claim limit for the Small Claims
Division was increased from $500 to $750. Based upon the prior
response of citizens in filing claims when the amount was increased
from $350 to $500 (an increase of 205? to 25% in filings), the Small
Claims Division was relocated on the first floor of City Hall in
substantially larger quarters. Response to the 1977 increase,
however, has not been as significant. Small claims' complaints have,
thus far, increased only by 135? to lb% .

Some criticism has been made toward the implementation of
a small claims calendar for the hearing only of the complaints filed
by large corporations one afternoon a week. We feel, however, that
it is in the best interests of those citizens who wish to file small
claims to have their claims heard each morning, as is presently
done, without the delay imposed by the concurrent hearing of the
numerous complaints filed by some of the large corporations. We
suggest that this procedure is in the best interests of all concerned
as well as an effective organizational procedure.

Beginning in July of 1977, the Municipal Court will launch
its Saturday afternoon Small Claims hearing at the Hall of Justice.
Each of the Judges will rotate in hearing the matters presented.
This new calendar will be for the use of individual citizens and
small neighborhood businesses only and corporations will be excluded
initially. The Municipal Court is hopeful Saturday hearings will
open the Small Claims Court to many individuals who, because of work
or other weekday commitments, are presently excluded from presenting
their claims.

Numerous advances have been made by each of the Superior
and Municipal Courts during the last year and we commend the efforts
of those involved for their valuable contributions to the City of
San Francisco.




The juvenile Justice system has been charged with one of
the most challenging and rewarding responsibilities in San Francisco
government. Between forty-five and fifty percent of the major crimes
committed in San Francisco are committed by Juveniles. Considering
the relatively small number of residents under the age of eighteen
and the even smaller number of those who become Involved in major
crimes, this figure is alarmingly disproportionate. One disquieting
aspect of this problem is that the children, as adults, may continue
to perpetrate criminal activity unless, in their formative years,
someone can get through to them. Giving acknowledgment and support
to those who might be able to influence the youth of this City should
go hand-in-hand with other law enforcement efforts. This, then,
would appear to be one way of attacking a major problem, that of
crime, at Its source.

Many of those working in the San Francisco Youth Guidance
Center are extremely dedicated, well-qualified individuals. A
majority of those in child probation have worked for years under the
demoralization of temporary employment status. (See details
regarding the history of the Probation Officers' Civil Service
Examinations in the report on the Adult Probation Department.)
Because of this series of events which has continued for so long,
overwhelming insecurity is felt in all levels of the Probation
Department. Much beneficial training has been postponed awaiting
the ever imminent appointment of permanent staff. Reorganizations
and innovative procedures have also been delayed. Those Probation
Officers who have been promoted by seniority only cannot feel security
in performing effective supervision when, within a short time, they
may find their supervisees their supervisors . We recommend that a
serious review of Civil Service testing and active listing be made
by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of San Francisco
government toward an early resolution of this problem.

Automobile Crisis

The City's failure to respond adequately to numerous pleas
from Youth Guidance Center for a resolution of the automobile
problem seems to evidence a lack of necessary support from City Hall.
Substantial documentation has been presented to the Mayor and the
Board of Supervisors substantiating the desperate condition of the
vehicles. The Juvenile Justice Commission has pleaded for a review
of the problem. The Juvenile Court Car Crisis Committee has prepared
and submitted extensive reports. The defective automobiles are used
not only by City employees; they are used as well for transporting
youth - to out-of-home placement, to the airport, to hospitals, for



home visits and for other necessary movement in and out of the City.

Some of the mechanical defects of which we have been
advised include bald tires resulting in blowouts on the freeway;
defective steering mechanisms; defective brakes, resulting from
lack of preventive maintenance , damaging the brake drums (a very
costly repair, indeed); and disc brakes wearing to the point of
rupturing the brake cylinders. One of the many reports came from a
Juvenile Court employee who experienced a mechanical difficulty which
could have resulted in a disaster while transporting six boys to
Youth Guidance Center from Log Cabin Ranch. Fortunately, one of the
boys noticed a rattling sound coming from one of the wheels. Upon
examination, the driver found that three of the wheel studs and nuts
were sheared off. The wheel was being held on by only two studs.
This particular automobile must often carry up to seven passengers
on winding country roads. It really makes very little sense to
supply equipment and not provide adequate funds for its maintenance.

We recommend the following:

1. That, if the City does not intend to supply the Youth
Guidance Center with newer automobiles, it conduct periodic safety
checks including the brakes, tires, lights, signals, steering and
other potential hazards. Such checks are performed routinely in
other cities and could, in the long run, provide substantial savings.
Claims by injured individuals against the City could be devastating.
The entire automobile budget could be depleted by this negligence.
The Citv must, of course, insure against those accidents.

2. That action be taken to provide safe, dependable
vehicles through either lease or purchase arrangements. We under-
stand that, quite recently, some support has been given by the Mayor
toward obtaining State funds for the purpose of purchasing automobiles
If this request is not granted, the City must take the initiative.

Those of us serving on this Grand Jury are not unaware of
the plight of City government's finances. However, when it comes to
transporting minors, local government must accept the responsibility.
We are not talking about causing inconvenience, we are talking about
endangering lives.

Log Cabin Ranch

Turning now to another matter, we feel a duty to address
the charges made by the 1975-76 Civil Grand Jury with regard to the
Teledyne program at Log Cabin Ranch during 197^ and 1975. The
Juvenile Justice Commission, after having conducted an in-depth study
of the LEAA funded program, published its report charging poor
fiscal responsibility and mismanagement of funds. Having conducted
an independent investigation, we concur in that finding.



We do feel that new, innovative approaches to working with
Juveniles must be tried. Progress is often attained only through
trial and error. However, we have found that when funds are supplied
by sources outside the City, there is a tendency among management
to continue even unworkable programs. We do not see this as an
isolated case. We acknowledge that outside funding is often difficult
to obtain and that, once a grant has been finally obtained, manage-
ment may be reluctant to acknowledge that its efforts have been for
naught .

In this particular case, if the Youth Guidance Center
administration were not able to achieve any cooperation from the
Log Cabin personnel through whatever actions were necessary, we feel
that the program should have discontinued after the first year of
funding. However, it was not and we can only hope that the adverse
publicity given to this program will serve as a deterrent to others
embarking on the same road.

Jim Licavoli became the Director of Log Cabin Ranch on
October 1, 1976. Since that time, the Ranch has been operating in
a very successful manner. Of the youth committed to Log Cabin Ranch,
ninety-nine percent are eligible for commitment to the California
Youth Authority. This, then, is their one last chance prior to
referral to the Youth Authority.

The program at Log Cabin Ranch currently ranges from ninety
days to one year. During that time, the youth are counseled exten-
sively and intensive academic study is provided. When the youth
enter the Ranch, they are given scholastic achievement tests. They
are tested again at the end of their commitment. Of those detained
at the Ranch for the full period, many are able to improve their
scholastic standings by more that two school grades. Although both
Log Cabin Ranch and Hidden Valley Ranch (under the direction of
Don Carlson) are understaffed (compared with a 5 to 1 ratio in most
large counties, Log Cabin operates on an 8 to 1 ratio and Hidden
Valley at a 9 to 1 ratio), they are providing a very valuable service.
According to some of the boys at the Ranches with whom we spoke, the
quiet country setting gives them a chance to think about the dis-
advantages and potential hazards of a life of crime. It is a much
more positive approach to the problem than commitment to the Youth
Authority facilities.

Immediately upon commitment to the Ranches, a team con-
sisting of the child's Probation Officer, his Ranch counsellor,
the Assistant Director of the Ranch, a member of the school depart-
ment and, most importantly, the child himself, begin working on a
plan which envisages his release from the Ranch. Some of the boys
return to school after release, some opt to go into the armed forces
and some are provided with the opportunity of placement in a voca-
tional skill oriented program sponsored by the LEAA. Presently,



there are forty-five slots in four month basic programs for graduates
from the Log Cabin Ranch. There are three community organizations in
San Francisco which provide the graduates with Jobs and training
during that four month period.

Medical Care At The Ranches

One serious problem which has been brought to our attention
is the lack of adequate medical services at the Ranches and especially
the lack of emergency medical care. One doctor, located in San
Francisco, is presently under contract to provide medical services.
It is his responsibility to visit the Ranches once a week. On his
visits, he examines all new referrals, which is a duplication of the
examination given before placement. Those funds that are presently
allocated for the services of the doctor could be used to retain a
registered nurse who would spend several hours each day at each of the
two Ranches. The Directors of the Ranches feel insecure about having
to make medical decisions with regard to their charges and the avail-
ability of a nurse would alleviate this responsibility. When emergen-
cies arise (as they do with youth), someone with substantial medical
training should be immediately available. This matter has been brought
to the attention of the Youth Guidance Center administration and we
feel that they must rectify this situation.

Community Resources

Commenting on another point made by the 1975-76 Grand Jury
with regard to "The Battle Between Public Agency Resources and
Community Based Resources," we find that a much greater degree of
cooperation is being achieved presently. We have not been led to
believe that all differences have been resolved. There are numerous
community groups vying for positions working with, and concomitant
public funding of, youth services. Some of these groups have achieved
a high degree of expertise and ability and there is active competition.
We encourage the administration to continue with their efforts to
solicit the cooperation and assistance of those community organiza-
tions which are providing valuable services.

For some years, San Francisco has placed delinquents in
agencies throughout the State. A small number of children have been
sent to the Los Angeles area. Under a recent policy of Juvenile
Court, all youth will now be placed within a sixty-five mile radius.
There are several aspects of this policy which have been brought to
our attention and which we would like to summarize here.

1. Certain community organizations operating child
detention facilities in Los Angeles have proven themselves to be
extremely effective in their treatment of youthful offenders. Some
facilities outside this sixty-five mile radius have, in fact,
displayed much greater successes with certain types of children than


those nearby.

2. There is also some argument for removing certain
children for a time from those peers and adverse conditions that
have contributed to their present activities.

3. We suggest that the incorporation of the parents in
the decision-making process regarding their children's placement

Online LibraryCalifornia. Grand Jury (San Francisco)Civil Grand Jury reports (Volume 1976-77) → online text (page 11 of 32)