Hon. James E. Herman
Assistant Presiding Judge, Superior Court of Santa Barbara County
Current Term: Sept 15, 2013–Sept 14, 2016 (withdrew from council in Aug 2015)
Membership: advisory member, appointed by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye
Prior term served: Sept 2010–Sept 2013, voting member, appointed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George
Internal Committees: Technology Committee, Chair; Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee Council Liaison to: Superior Courts of Kings, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties.
Judge Herman was appointed to the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County in 2005 and is currently serving as the assistant presiding judge. He joined the bench with more than 20 years of experience in private law practice, specializing in complex commercial litigation. He was a deputy public defender in Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Barbara Counties for 7 years. A former president of the State Bar of California (2002–2003), Judge Herman served on the State Bar’s Board of Governors and chaired and served on the bar’s Judicial Nominations and Evaluation Commission Review Committee (JNE) for 3 years. He has been a lecturer and writer for numerous legal and academic institutions, bar groups, and community groups on a variety of legal topics. He is a member of the California Commission on Access to Justice and the Pro Bono Commission. Judge Herman chairs the council’s Technology Committee, is vice chair of the Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee and serves as liaison to the Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee. His past committee experience includes membership on the Court Technology Advisory Committee (2007-2010), Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee (2005–2006), and the Task Force on Self-Represented Litigants (2004–2005). He was a lawyer member of the Judicial Council (2004–2005) and served on the Rules and Projects Committee during his initial term. Among other honors and awards, Judge Herman has received the Judicial Council’s Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae Award (2004). He also has served on a number of California Judges Association committees, including the executive committee.
As part of the Judicial Council’s efforts to increase communication and transparency and promote accountability, council members serve as liaisons to the 58 trial courts and to the major service units of the Judicial Council staff. Members with updates present their reports at Judicial Council meetings, bringing fresh perspectives on the issues and challenges facing the judicial branch.
Liaison Report on San Luis Obispo, Apr 2016
Judge Buckley reports on his visit to San Luis Obispo Superior Court. San Luis Obispo is located on the coast, north of Santa Barbara and south of Monterey. It has a population of just over 275,000 and covers 3600 sq. miles. The judicial allocation is 13 judges and two commissioners. They currently have 3 judicial vacancies and they are all being covered by assigned judges, a program critical to the court. The court was second on the list for a new courthouse in the early 2000, they are now 50. Proposition 47 has had a tremendous impact on the court, and has put a strain on the court’s limited resources. Judge Buckley reports that the court is happy with their new case management system.
Monterey County Superior Court liaison report
Aug 24, 2015
Monterey County spans 3,700 square miles from Monterey Bay to the farming communities of the Central Valley. Closure of the Greenfield/King City facility in 2014 due to safety concerns cut off access for a large population of court users (plans for a new South County courthouse were put on hold because of the funding crisis). Aside from these challenges, the court celebrates many achievements. They’ve successfully launched a case management system in partnership with Santa Clara and Napa counties; their Self-Help services have seen improvements despite funding cuts, and they proudly hold 5 Kleps Awards for their problem-solving innovations.
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court liaison report
Aug 26, 2014
Ventura County Superior Court liaison report
Jul 1, 2014
Judge Herman notes that this court is known for its innovations and its collaborative courts, which serve as a model for other courts, but the lack of funding has the court struggling to deliver services. The court has reduced staff by 20 percent, while handling a 10 percent increase in filings.