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Two seek rare open judicial seat
May 07, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Susan Greenberg

Jeff Hayden

Although judicial candidates are limited in what they can say about potential future cases and rulings, the two vying for one of two open seats on the June ballot shared more general views and suggestions on local criminal justice.

Court Commissioner Susan Greenberg and attorney Jeff Hayden are seeking the seat vacated earlier this year by the federal appointment of Judge Beth Labson Freeman to the U.S. District Court in San Jose.

Greenberg and Hayden sat down individually with the Daily Journal for an in-office interview and also provided answers to the following five questions to allow each candidate a forum for sharing their own words prior to the June 3 election. Each was asked to keep the answers to approximately 50 words and were only edited for grammar or length.

Do you favor options to pre-trial incarceration such as electronic monitoring? Why or why not?

Greenberg: I favor many options including release on own recognizance, supervised release on own recognizance and electronic monitoring. These options should be implemented on a case by case basis. The jails are overcrowded and we should tailor these pretrial remedies as appropriate to each individual situation.

Hayden: The jail population includes people awaiting trial; realignment has further crowded the jail. In setting the bail amount, the court considers the nature of the charge, the likelihood that defendant returns to court and public safety. Setting additional terms, electronic monitoring or drug counseling, bears upon public safety.

How can the court calendars be more efficient to keep cases on track in a timely manner?

Greenberg: The significant budget decrease for the trial courts is the major issue here. Our court is very efficient. I believe we can improve efficiency by keeping continuances to a minimum and combining some of the calendars and cases as often as possible.

Hayden: Modest changes would allow existing resources to be better utilized. Electronic filing can minimize delays at the clerk’s office. Utilizing judges pro tem within courtrooms awaiting jury trial assignments can clear short matters. Use of part-time staff lent by firms can clear backlogs in filing papers and issuing orders.

How do you view a judge’s discretion to discount a defendant’s prior criminal strikes during sentencing?

Greenberg: This is clearly permitted by case law, based on criminal history and the circumstances of the present offense. It has to be done on a case by case basis and can be appropriate for certain cases. The court’s discretion here is critical.

Hayden: Appellate court decisions promulgated guidelines when to exercise such discretion in the interest of justice. Factors include the age and nature of the strike, how long has the person been crime free, the nature of the current offense as well as mitigating factors; however, public safety must always come first.

What role do mitigating circumstances like immigration or potential loss of a professional license play in sentencing? 

Greenberg: These are collateral consequences that traditionally haven’t been and generally are not considered by the court at sentencing. However, they can be looked at on a case by case basis when appropriate.

Hayden: In appropriate circumstances where the interests of justice so indicate, but even then only when public safety is not endangered. Sentencing considerations include ensuring public safety, deterrence and the interest of justice, all of which might be impacted when a person suffers consequences not contemplated within the black letter law.

How have the courts responded to realignment?

Greenberg: Our court has responded well. Sentencing is being handled appropriately. Our court has added a weekly calendar to hear Parole and Post Release Community Supervision revocation cases. I have been given this assignment by the presiding judge of our court.

Hayden: Inadequately. Realignment allows a court to split a sentence between jail and supervision, much as time had been split between prison and parole. The court should — but has yet to — incorporate rehabilitative conditions during or after serving jail time, so a defendant doesn’t drift back to the pattern of felonious behavior.

michelle@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

Bio boxes:

Susan Greenberg

Age: 54

Occupation: Court commissioner

Education: Economics and accounting, Claremont McKenna College; law degree from Hastings College of the Law

Experience: Former prosecutor; private civil attorney

Residence: San Mateo County

Jeff Hayden

Age: 55

Occupation: Criminal defense attorney

Education: BA, economics, University of California, Santa Cruz; law degree from University of Southern California Law Center

Experience: Law clerk, U.S. District Court; judge pro tem; vice president of the San Mateo County Bar Association

Residence: San Mateo County

 

 

Tags: court, hayden, greenberg, cases, public, sentencing,


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