2012 Distinguished Service Awards Announced

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Contact: Cathal Conneely, 415-865-7651

October 25, 2012

Judicial Council Announces 2012 Winners of Distinguished Service Awards

Honor service, fostering access to justice, and defense of the rule of law

award signage

SAN FRANCISCO—The Judicial Council of California has announced the winners of its 2012 Distinguished Service Awards. This year’s awards recognize six individuals in five award categories and include a special recognition for the contributions of our armed forces in expanding and defending access to justice, with the Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award honoring the late Captain Matthew Manoukian of the United States Marine Corps.

The awards program is now in its 19th year, and the awards will be presented later this year at a special ceremony in San Francisco. The Distinguished Service Awards are the highest honors given by the council, recognizing those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and made significant contributions to access to justice and the administration of justice.

The recipients are (details follow):

Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award
 —Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian (posthumously), United States Marine Corps

Ronald M. George Award for Judicial Excellence
 —Justice Richard D. Huffman, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District
 —Judge Wendy S. Lindley, Superior Court of Orange County

William C. Vickrey Leadership in Judicial Administration Award
 —Ms. Jody Patel, Interim Administrative Director of the California Courts

Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae Award
 —Ms. Mary Lavery Flynn, Director, Office of Legal Services, State Bar of California

Richard D. Huffman Justice for Children & Families Award
 —Judge Stephen V. Manley, Superior Court of Santa Clara County

Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award

Honors individuals from federal, state, and local government for significant contributions to advancing equal access to fair and consistent justice in California.

The late Captain Matthew Patrick Manoukian, posthumously, of the United States Marines, on behalf of all members of the armed services who are protecting access to justice through their sacrifice and service to our country.

In 2008, while Captain Manoukian was deployed on his second tour of duty in the Al-Anbar Province of Iraq, he played a significant role in that province’s transformation towards democracy, helping to open schools, police departments, and courthouses.

Captain Manoukian was deployed in 2010 to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, working to establish the rule of law. During this experience, he realized the societal need for a fair judicial system, which influenced his decision to apply to law school.

Most recently, Captain Manoukian was involved in a project helping train local governments against Taliban infiltration and disruption. His team made great advancements in stabilizing the area and institutionalizing the beginnings of law and order.

Captain Manoukian was to start law school in August 2013. In his personal application statement, he wrote, “I have always thrived on challenge and constantly seek out self-improvement, and believe in contributing to the overall development of the team, group, and society.”

Captain Manoukian is the son of Judge Socrates Manoukian of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County and Associate Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian of the California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District. He was killed on active duty while serving on his fourth deployment in the region.

Many members of California’s judiciary and court administration have served in the military or currently have family members on active service duty, including another Distinguished Service Award honoree, Judge Stephen Manley. Its members share an oath with those who serve in the military to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Ronald M. George Award for Judicial Excellence

This award honors members of the judiciary for their extraordinary dedication to the highest principles of the administration of justice. The award was previously called the Jurist of the Year Award.

Justice Richard D. Huffman, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District (San Diego), was honored for his service to the Judicial Council from 1997 to 2011 and ongoing commitment to issues facing the judicial branch.

Justice Huffman began his judicial career in 1985, and before joining the Judicial Council, he chaired the Criminal Law Advisory Committee and the Task Force on Photography, Broadcasting & Recording in the Courtroom, and served as a member of the Appellate Advisory Committee.

During his tenure as a member of the council and chair of its Executive and Planning Committee, trial court funding and unification presented enormous challenges to the council and the judicial branch, and Justice Huffman helped guide the branch through these dramatic reforms to the courts and the branch. As chair of the Council’s Executive Committee, Justice Huffman was responsible for seeking diverse candidates to serve on the council and its committees. 

He has served as co-chair of the Tribal Court/State Court Forum, which seeks to improve access to the courts for Native Americans and to increase trust, collaboration, and understanding between the two court systems.

Justice Huffman also served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care and currently serves as its chair. The commission issued a comprehensive report on the difficulties faced by foster children and the important role of the judicial branch in the lives of these children.

He played a key role in the effort to improve the quality of representation for parents and children in the dependency system and works to improve the dependency courts statewide by serving by assignment on the Juvenile Court to assist that heavily burdened court, while still maintaining a full caseload at the Court of Appeal.

Justice Huffman was co-chair of the Riverside Criminal Backlog Reduction Task Force, which was instrumental in eliminating an overwhelming backlog of criminal trials and in improving the management of the criminal caseload at the Riverside Superior Court.

He has taught criminal law and procedure at the University of San Diego School of Law since 1972 and works tirelessly to support efforts to improve the legal profession. Justice Huffman’s devotion to the system of justice is reflected in his willingness to assume any difficult task.

Judge Wendy S. Lindley, Superior Court of Orange County, was honored for pioneering innovative problem-solving courts and providing meaningful access to justice to veterans, the homeless, the addicted, and the mentally ill.

Judge Lindley established the first Drug Court in Orange County in 1994. By the year 2000, the demonstrable success of Drug Court led to the establishment of Drug Courts at each of the five county justice centers that served adult criminal offenders. By July 31, 2012, the county-wide Drug Court program, which has an enrollment of 370 people, had graduated more than 1,800 participants and saved more than $36.5 million in jail and prison costs.

In October 2008, under her visionary leadership, the Orange County Community Court opened with a wide range of supportive services, from Legal Aid and the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to the Department of Social Services and the VA Health Care System co-located within the courthouse.

In November 2008, Judge Lindley opened the first Veterans Court in California, the second in the nation, to serve combat veterans with mental health issues who have become involved with the criminal justice system. The Combat Veterans Court has been enthusiastically supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a national model for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and other issues that plague combat veterans and impair their re-integration into society; and it has been designated a Mentor Court by the National Drug Court Institute.

Recently, Judge Lindley established a new mental health court program for criminal offenders who are likely to be declared incompetent to stand trial, providing them with immediate mental health services while their competency is being determined. Currently, 185 people are enrolled in the Mental Health Court Programs, from which 167 participants have graduated medication- compliant, free of substance addiction, and pursuing achievable life goals. In addition to the avoided costs of emergency hospitalizations and mental health commitments, during the last two years these programs saved more than $1.6 million in jail and prison costs.

Judge Lindley’s leadership and the success of her programs have also inspired other judicial officers to use the problem-solving model to improve access to justice and resolve other issues.

William C. Vickrey Leadership in Judicial Administration Award

This award honors individuals in judicial administration for significant contributions to and leadership in their profession.

Jody Patel (as Interim Administrative Director of the Courts) was selected for initiating organizational and operational changes to improve the Administrative Office of the Courts’ (AOC) effectiveness, efficiency, transparency, and accountability in serving the Judicial Council, the courts, and the public.

Ms. Patel initiated a self-assessment process within the AOC, resulting in an organizational realignment, restructuring, and consolidation to manage significant budget reductions and improve how the agency conducts business on behalf of the Judicial Council and the courts.

During this period she also created the Criminal Justice Court Services Office by consolidating existing Community Corrections Programs to better manage the AOC’s efforts related to community corrections, the 2011 Criminal Justice Realignment, and other criminal justice activities.

Consistent with the directive of the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council, she has improved working relationships with and support for the trial and appellate courts--facilitating statewide and local court efforts to manage unprecedented budget challenges.

Ms. Patel has worked to improve relations with the Administration and the Department of Finance, functioning in a collaborative and constructive manner toward the achievement of mutually beneficial goals between the judicial and executive branches of government. Further, she has initiated and fostered collaborative and complementary relations with the California Judges Association and other constituent groups.

Ms. Patel is currently the Chief of Staff of the AOC (effective October 1, 2012) following Judicial Council action on the Strategic Evaluation Committee Report to the Chief Justice. She was appointed to the Interim Administrative Director of the Courts of California on February 9, 2012, by the Judicial Council. She previously served as the Regional Administrative Director.

Ms. Patel’s experience with the state judicial branch spans more than 12 years—she served as the executive officer for the Superior Court of Sacramento County (2001–2006) and before that, she managed legislative and budget advocacy activities at the AOC’s Office of Governmental Affairs. Ms. Patel has more than 20 years of experience in the executive branch of California government, working at senior management levels, including serving as deputy director of a state agency. Ms. Patel was awarded the Judicial Council Distinguished Service Award in Judicial Administration in 2005 for her significant contributions to the judicial branch.

Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae Award

This award honors individuals other than members of the judiciary for their outstanding contributions to the courts of California.

Mary Lavery Flynn, Director, Office of Legal Services, State Bar of California, was selected for her over 32 years of service in identifying issues and solutions to the problems facing low- income persons accessing the justice system in California.

Ms Flynn’s service has focused on increasing access to justice and improving the quality of justice. She has been guided by the needs of unserved and underserved litigants while preserving the integrity of the justice system. Ms. Flynn has coordinated communications efforts and issues resolution on legal services and funding for the judiciary between the Judicial Council, the courts, the State Bar, and legal services programs. 

Ms. Flynn has served the State Bar since 1992. As Director of the Office of Legal Services, she oversees operations including the Legal Services Trust Fund Program which distributes Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and Equal Access Funds, and the Center on Access to Justice. She was involved in efforts to obtain a $10 million annual state appropriation for legal services in California, with 10 percent of the funds dedicated to partnership projects between courts and legal services programs. The Equal Access Fund helps to support 101 organizations providing services in all 58 counties.  Partnership grants directly assist the courts by providing funding for 33 self-help centers in 28 different counties.  

She is primary staff support to the California Commission on Access to Justice, the State Bar Liaison to the Bench-Bar Coalition, the Judicial Council’s Task Force on Self-Represented Litigants, and the Access and Fairness Advisory Committee. Ms. Flynn is also working on the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Pilot Program and has served on the Judicial Council’s Committee to implement that program. The Shriver project focuses on providing representation in cases where one side is generally represented and the other is not. 

Ms. Flynn began her career as an associate in a law firm in San Francisco. From 1980 through 1992, she was the executive director of the Public Interest Clearinghouse, a state support center for legal aid programs. She has done extensive consulting with legal services programs across the country, has served as President of the Legal Aid Association of California, studied human rights law at the University of Strasbourg, worked with UNESCO in Paris, and was the Assistant Grievance Officer for the City of Ann Arbor. She has also authored numerous reports, guides, and publications on the issue of access to justice.

Richard D. Huffman Justice for Children & Families Award

Honors individuals for significant contributions to advancing justice for children and families in California.

Judge Stephen V. Manley, Superior Court of Santa Clara County, was honored for his leadership role in developing collaborative justice court programs for children and families and for bringing the issues of children and families into the collaborative justice courts addressing adult criminal cases to provide them with a complete solution to their family issues.

Judge Manley has worked for many years developing and operating drug courts, mental health courts, reentry courts, peer courts, and truancy courts, while always focusing holistically on individuals in the context of their family and their community.

He implements the integrated approach of linking adult collaborative courts with juvenile and family courts and addressing juvenile and family issues with the same consistency, dedication to evidence­ based practices, and outcomes-driven approaches. Judge Manley does not see the participant as a case or an instant offense or problem; he sees the participant as a member of a family, a parent, son or daughter, partner, and community member who can be restored the problems that led to court involvement are appropriately addressed.

He recognized the differences in reentry for women and the importance, especially for offenders, of reuniting with their children and the community. The women appear regularly in court for reviews. A special dedicated calendar was created for women with children. The court encourages the presence of children, and they are always acknowledged.

These courts enable participants to address issues that contribute to recidivism and enable them to reconnect with families and build healthy relationships with their children. Judge Manley supervises collaborative courts that involve nine judges with over 5,000 defendants in treatment through a court-managed collaborative system.

Judge Manley has served on the Judicial Council’s Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee since the committee was established in 2000. In addition, he served on the Task Force for Criminal Justice Collaboration on Mental Health Issues and is currently serving on the Mental Health Issues Implementation Task Force.