Court Leader’s Advantage Video Podcast: August 2020 Episode Part Two

Brought to you in cooperation with NACM

Welcome to part two of the Court Leader’s Advantage podcast on Courts and Systemic Bias.   We continue to look at the state of our courts regarding systemic bias and what advice we have for others moving forward.  The panel discusses the specifics regarding systemic bias and expungements, fines and fees, evictions, allowing ex-felons the vote, and the need for better racial sensitivity training, 

Charleston Carter, Trial Court Administrator for the 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County, (Charlotte, North Carolina) co-hosts

The panel includes: 

  • The Honorable John Pacheco, Judge of the Superior Court for San Bernardino County (California).
  • Alena Clark with the Prosecutor’s Office in Genesee County (Michigan).
  • Linda Romero-Soles, Retired Court Executive Officer for the Superior Court in Merced County (California).
  • Elisa Chinn-Gary, Clerk of the Superior Court in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, North Carolina).

Watch the CLAPodcast

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About This Month’s Co-Host and Panelists

Charleston L. Carter, this month’s co-host, is the Trial Court Administrator for the Superior Court of North Carolina’s 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County. Charleston directs employees in the Trial Court Administrator’s Office and assists almost thirty (30) judges by managing all non-judicial activities: planning, organizing and directing limited and general jurisdiction functions. Prior to becoming the Trial Court Administrator for the 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 2017, Charleston served as the Circuit Court Administrator for the Tifton Judicial Circuit in Tifton, Georgia as well as the Trial Court Administrator for Athens-Clarke County. Overall, Charleston has twenty-three (23) years of legal and court administration experience. Charleston has been a member of the National Association for Court Management for nine (9) years. He has been involved in the National Association for Court Management’s work through its partnership with the Georgia Council of Court Administrators and is currently on NACM’s Board of Directors. Charleston was a member of the Georgia Council of Court Administrators until he assumed his new role in North Carolina.

While in Georgia, Charleston served on the Georgia Council of Court Administrators’ Board of Directors for three years, and was the Chair of the Website Committee. Charleston received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice from Valdosta State University and has earned several certifications, including a Master Certificate of Court Administration from Michigan State University and a Certification in Judicial Philosophy from Harvard University.

The Honorable John M. Pacheco was admitted to the California Bar in 1984. He was appointed to serve as a Superior Court Judge in San Bernardino in 2001. His assignments included criminal law in Joshua Tree and Presiding Judge in Rancho on an array of cases, from civil, traffic trials, preliminary hearings, family law, guardianship, unlawful detainer, civil harassment and small claims. Since 2011, Judge Pacheco has presided in the San Bernardino Civil District, assigned to civil jury trials, bench trials, preliminary hearings and occasional criminal trials. 

Throughout his career, Judge Pacheco has promoted civility, professionalism and ethics in his courtroom and by teaching Civility Matters through ABOTA.

Judge Pacheco’s civil service has spanned his illustrious career and includes: 2014-2016: California Judicial Education and Research (CJER); 2014-2017: Diversity Summit 2016; 2012-2014: Cultural Competency Curriculum Workgroup for the Judicial Council; 2011 2014: Council  on Access and Fairness for State Bar of California (COAF); 2007 2017: Member, the Chair of the Community Outreach Committee for San Bernardino Superior Court; 2004-2007: Grand Jury Selection Committee for San Bernardino County; Member the Chair of the California Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA now CAOC); 2004-2008 Adjunct Professor at UCR Extension Criminal Law and Procedure; and member of the LA County and San Bernardino County Bar Associations. He currently serves as Chair of the Jury Services Policy Committee for San Bernardino Superior Court and maintains his membership in several professional and civic organizations. He has published articles entitled “Trust and Confidence in Our Legal System” in the ASDC Verdict Magazine Volume 1 2018 and a PPT entitled “Perspectives from the Bench” presented at the CAALA Las Vegas Convention in September of 2018. He was also a speaker in 2019 for the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel Annual Convention in Los Angeles. Many organizations have recognized Judge Pacheco for his commitment and service to our region. Through his efforts and those of compassionate colleagues, hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised families have gained access to our judicial system. 

Linda Romero Soles is the former Court Executive Officer for the Superior Court of California, County of Merced and former Executive Court Advisor.  Prior to becoming CEO in 2011, Linda was an Assistant CEO with the Stanislaus Superior Court in Modesto, California for twenty years. Ms. Romero Soles also worked for the United States District Court, Central District of California, in Los Angeles as the Director of Administrative Services for eleven years. She has a total of 39 years of court experience.

Throughout her career she was appointed by the Chief Justice of California to serve on various committees for the Judicial Council of California.  Some of these statewide committees included:  Trial Court Facilities Advisory Committee (of which she is still a committee member); Trial Court Facility Modification Advisory Committee; Education Leadership Committee, Court Security Committee; Trial Court Budget Working Advisory Group and co-chair of the Joint Rules Subcommittee.

She also served on the Legislation Committee for several years.  She was also Chair of the California Trial Courts Consortium for two years.  This consortium consisted of approximately thirty of the total fifty-eight courts in California with a maximum of 40 judicial officers.

She also co-chaired the annual Presiding Judge/CEO Management Institute for two years.  Her responsibilities included assisting in the planning and development of training new/existing Presiding Judges and CEO’s statewide.  As a certified ICM Fellow she has been responsible for teaching over 300 court employees.  She also co-taught the NCSC Courtools class in Spanish to the Puerto Rico Judiciary.  It was the first time that an NCSC class has ever been presented in Spanish. She has a passion for teaching/mentoring individuals. She was responsible for overseeing various court facility projects in the federal and state courts.  The most recent project was the new Los Banos Courthouse.

Linda is a past Board member for the National Association of Court Management. As a board member she also served on the Joint Technology Committee for the National Center for State Courts.  In 2016, she was the recipient of the ICM Fellows Star Award and the first California Court Executive Officer to receive this prestigious award.  The Star Award is conferred on an ICM Fellow who demonstrates excellence in advancement of court administration through leadership and education.  She continues to stay involved with NACM and NCSC.

Elisa Chinn-Gary is the Clerk of Superior Court and Judge of Probate for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She was first elected to office in November 2014 and re-elected to a second term in November 2018. Elisa received her B.A. at Winston Salem State University (magna cum laude) in 1996, her J.D. at the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1999; and her M.A. in Social Work at the University of North Carolina in 2000.

Elisa’s experience includes:  Attorney Advocate:  North Carolina Guardian Ad Litem program 1999-2002; Juvenile Defender: Council for Children’s Rights (formerly Children’s Law Center) 2000-2001; Administrator of the Mecklenburg Family Court 2001-2015; Adjunct Professor: Charlotte School of Law 2010-2015.

Since taking office in December 2014, the Honorable Chinn-Gary has made great strides in improving workplace culture across divisions; qualitative work output across court divisions; active staff promotion, cross training and salary incentives; collaborative partnerships for racial/implicit bias analysis for more equitable outcomes; and employee-company engagement with local charities.

Co-Chair of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice, the Honorable Chinn-Gary is known as an institutional organizer and implicit bias lecturer, who is committed to building more equitable and just systems of governance.  Recipient of various awards, she was most notably honored as the 2014 Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion by the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, as a 2015 NAACP History Maker, recipient of the McCrorey YMCA’s 2017 MLK Spirit Award and the 2017 Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP Distinguished Service Award, and Charlotte’s 2019 Pride Award.

Alena M. Clark earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Western Michigan University. She started her legal career in public service serving with Corporation Counsel or the City of Dearborn, and afterward as a judicial staff attorney for judges in Wayne and Oakland counties. Her career has continued in public service as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Saginaw County, and in 2018 she accepted a position at the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office where she currently serves in the Appeals, Research, & Training Division. She handles cases in the 7th Circuit for the County of Genesee as well as the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Alena is the immediate Past President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM), a statewide organization of over 600 members established in 1919.  Before heading the statewide organization, she proudly served at the regional level as President of the Great Lakes Bay Region, and Vice President and Interim President of the Wayne Region of WLAM.

She has been recognized for her significant contribution to WLAM by twice being awarded WLAM’s regional leadership award. Clark has also been recognized as one of the “Women in the Law” for 2020 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Alena also serves as a member of the Genesee County Bar Association, and the American Indian Law, Appellate Practice, Criminal Law, and LGBTQA sections of the State Bar of Michigan.  In 2020, Alena was elected to serve as the Representative for Michigan’s 7th  Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly. 

Do You Want to Know More? 

The California Supreme Court Statement on Equality and Inclusion.

The American Bar Association Resolution 113

Recognizing and Eliminating Bias from Court Operations

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