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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Opening East County courts is necessary

Uploaded: Jun 8, 2017
Later this year, Alameda County finally will achieve what should be significant savings in transporting inmates from Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin to courts around the county.
The long-awaited East County Hall of Justice will open later this month for a few criminal courts and will be fully operational by July. The plan is for all arraignments of in-custody inmates to take place in Dublin instead of busing inmates to Oakland and Fremont.
The change is part of an overall reorganization of the county’s courts that has been ongoing for a couple of years. The change has been driven by state funding that has been consistently squeezed by the governor and the Legislature. That has forced court leaders to decide how to operate differently to save money.
For instance, all traffic violations have been shifted to Fremont, which means both law enforcement and citizens challenging the violations must go there. When I reported this last year, I quoted Pleasanton Police Chief Dave Spiller saying some of his traffic officers had renewed their motorcycle skills so they could get back home on Interstate 680 more quickly instead of being parked in the afternoon traffic.
The shift to arraignments in Dublin will be more efficient for the Sheriff’s Department and the court system. It will not work well for families of inmates who live in Oakland and Berkeley where the majority of those arrested reside. The jail and the court house are located about a mile from the East Dublin-Pleasanton BART station.
County officials said they are planning to run a shuttle bus from BART to the courthouse.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff is among the elected officials calling on presiding Judge Morris Jacobsen to reconsider the plan. She cited the costs and impacts on families as reported by the East Bay Times.
That’s fair, but it’s also important to recognize that the court system must live within its budget and the same goes for the county. Relieving the Sheriff’s Dept. from transporting pre-trial inmates around the county will save lots of money. Some of those savings can go to providing the shuttle service from BART.
Residents of the Tri-Valley have seen their courthouse shutdown and key operations shifted elsewhere in the county. Eviction proceedings and family court was shifted to Hayward last year while traffic went to Fremont.
The court system is managing a $5 million deficit in the current fiscal year and trying to do so wisely. It’s an approach the Oakland mayor would do to well to emulate in her city.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:38 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Not to mention the jurors from Pleasanton and other east bay communities are traveling to Oakland where there is no parking. The only nearby garage is stuffed and closed because there is no parking available. Jurors are forced to find meter parking six to eight blocks away, then walk the punishing trek of homeless, panhandlers and other things, to get to the court house to report for juror duty.

Posted by William, a resident of Birdland,
on Jun 9, 2017 at 7:09 am

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Posted by Cholo, a resident of another community,
on Jun 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm

I believe that there a enuf crooks everywhere to have more courts...we can never have enuf courts!!!

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jun 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

Well, as someone who has been called for jury duty many, many times and has had to make the trek from Pleasanton to the courthouse in downtown Oakland, this change will certainly make jury duty a bit easier on me and other Pleasantonians. Considering the fact that our city has a relatively low crime rate while Oakland and Berkeley have relatively high crime rates, I've always thought that it's a bit unfair that we Pleasantonians have to so frequently serve on juries due to crime problems in Oakland and Berkeley and other East Bay cities. Can you imagine how infrequently we would have to be called for jury duty if we only had to report for court cases involving crimes allegedly committed by Pleasantonians? Probably get called only once in 10 years or less rather than every year as it is now.

So, yeah, I'm not shedding many tears for families of inmates having to trek from Oakland or other places in the East Bay to Pleasanton. I've already wasted enough hours of my life over the years trekking from Pleasanton to the Oakland courthouse due to the crime and arrest problems in these families. Seems that they should be the ones who have more of the burden of trekking long distances due to members of their family getting arrested.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Jun 11, 2017 at 10:15 am

Sam: Building a new court in Dublin does not mean you and fellow Pleasanton residents will not have to serve your jury duty at the courts in Oakland, or any other court in Alameda County. The jury pool at every court in Alameda County is made up of residents that live anywhere in Alameda County. It is a random selection that occurs in determining which court in Alameda County you may have to report to for your jury duty.

It is similar in my county, Contra Costa, that although I live in Danville, and the court in Walnut Creek is much closer, by random selection I may have to report to jury duty in Martinez or Richmond.

F.Y.I., you do not have a right to a jury trial in family court cases, so courthouses that handle family law cases will not have jurors assigned.

When I first started trying cases almost 30 years ago, before Court Unification occurred, if I had a case at the Hayward Court most likely the jurors were from Hayward, San Leandro, area, and if I tried a case at the courthouse in Fremont most likely the jurors were from Fremont, Union City, or Newark. Court Unification also got rid of designation of Municipal or Superior Court cases, as Municipal Court Judges got an automatic pay raise bump and became Superior Court Judges.

Not surprisingly, I can verify that the courts in Alameda County are not run as efficient or quite frankly as well as the courts in other counties, particularly Santa Clara County, as cases typically get out and trials actually start the first time assigned in Santa Clara County, while in Alameda County there is one continuance after another as criminal cases take precedent and must get out, while our civil cases linger on and on.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jun 11, 2017 at 10:47 am


I understand that as an Alameda county resident that I may be called up to serve at the court in Hayward, Pleasanton, or any other court in Alameda county in addition to the Oakland courthouse. But I'm telling you that as a practical matter that in my experience that being called to serve jury duty at other courts than the one at Oakland is relatively rare. In my approximately 25 years of living here, almost every year I have had to report to the Oakland courthouse, not to any other. And of all those calls I had to be physically present for the morning jury duty roll call at Oakland about seven or eight times. In contrast, I only recall being notified to report for duty at the Hayward court once. Didnt need to physically report in, though, so I still don't know what the Hayward courthouse looks like. Also, had to report in and be physically present at the Pleasanton court only once in 25 years.

Bottom line: If my experience is typical, if you're a Pleasanton resident called for court duty, then by a large margin the chances are that you're going to have to report in to the Oakland courthouse.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Jun 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Sam, you are correct that anyone living in Alameda county has much better chance getting assigned jury duty in Oakland than any other court. There are so many more courtrooms and Judges at the three courts in Oakland, so statistically you have much higher chance being sent there. For example, there are only three Judges at the court in the city of Alameda court, while the Court in the Administration building in Oakland has more than 16 Judges.

I assumed from the wording in your post that you thought somehow the building of the court in Dublin would make it easier on you Pleasanton residents in getting sent only to the Dublin court for Jury duty. Statistically you will probably still do your service in one of the three Oakland courts.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jun 12, 2017 at 10:11 am

@American :"I assumed from the wording in your post that you thought somehow the building of the court in Dublin would make it easier on you Pleasanton residents in getting sent only to the Dublin court for Jury duty. Statistically you will probably still do your service in one of the three Oakland courts."

I don't think that I understand your comment. My understanding was that most or all of the criminal courts at the downtown Oakland Courthouse will be moved to the new Dublin Courthouse. Is that not true? If it is true, then I assume that most of the jury duty calls for Pleasanton residents will shift from reporting to Oakland to reporting to Dublin since in my experience most of my own jury duty assignments were to criminal courts (not civil courts) in Oakland. Here below is how an article in the PW described the new Dublin Courthouse:

"The new court building will house the county's criminal courts in a five-story courthouse with 13 courtrooms, which will replace the leased Gale/Schenone Hall of Justice at 5672 Stoneridge Drive in Pleasanton."

"O'Malley's offices and the county's Public Defender and Probation departments will be located in an adjacent two-story county building with a shared lobby and easy access to the criminal courts building. Civil courts will remain in Oakland with most family courts moving to Hayward. Jury duty, for the most part, will shift to the new Dublin courthouse when it opens in June 2017, although residents in the Tri-Valley could still be called into Oakland for civil cases."

PW article: Web Link

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Jun 12, 2017 at 11:24 am

Sam: 13 courts in Dublin does not mean 13 courts having jury trials, as there are many criminal courts that solely deal with arraignments and other criminal procedure hearings that don't involve jurors. There are more civil courts at all the Oakland courts that will have jury trial calendars.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Jun 12, 2017 at 11:49 am


OK, I get that there are arraignments and other hearings that don't involve jurors. But it sounds from the article I presented that all Oakland courthouse criminal cases will be moving to Dublin, and if my experience over the past 25 years is typical then that means that most (but not all) of the jury duty responsibilities of Pleasantonians will be shifting to Dublin.

BTW, I was called up and served as a juror on an attempted murder case about 2 years ago at the downtown Oakland courthouse. I gather that the defendant was not kept locally in Oakland throughout the trial but had to be shuttled back and forth between Santa Rita jail and the Oakland courthouse almost daily during the trial? Also, I had to shuttle back and forth between Pleasanton and Oakland almost daily on weekdays. It seems that that trial in particular would have been held in Dublin if the Dublin courthouse had been ready and open at that time.

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