The SCCBA enjoys a unique and special relationship with the judiciary in Santa Clara County, both state and federal. The Bar and benches have for decades worked cooperatively to advance the administration of justice and access to the courts for those who may be disadvantaged.
SCCBA Participation with Bench
The SCCBA has responded to requests from the bench for assistance with implementation of new court rules, creating an adequate pool of candidates for appointment to the bench and lobbying for adequate court funding, among other issues.
Benches’ Participation with SCCBA
The bench has worked with the SCCBA on matters of civility and professionalism, participating in continuing legal education programs, serving on a variety of SCCBA committees, including Civil Practice, Family Law Section Executive Committee, Federal Courts, Professionalism, Judicial Assessment Committee, Fair Election Practices Commission and Strategic Planning Committee among others.
Get Involved with the Bench
SCCBA members active in the Association have the unique opportunity to network with members of the judiciary by serving on committees that include judges, discuss matters of concern, and jointly advance projects addressing access to the courts. In addition, SCCBA members can provide feedback about the bench and individual judicial officers through the Judicial Assessment Committee and each year acknowledge this unique relationship through the SCCBA Annual Judges’ Night.
All of these efforts are made possible through dues paid by attorneys to be SCCBA members. This is an important component of the SCCBA.
The leadership of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County and the SCCBA meet each quarter to discuss issues related to the bench and bar.
Those involved include: the Presiding Judge, the Assistant Presiding Judge, the CEO of the Court, the SCCBA President and President-Elect and the SCCBA CEO & General Counsel. If you have concerns or issues you think should be discussed with the leadership of the court, you may contact the SCCBA President or the SCCBA CEO or you may use the Judicial Assessment process, described below.
Fair Election Practices Commission
The purpose of the Santa Clara County Fair Election Practices Commission is to evaluate the campaign practices and conduct of candidates for judicial office and for district attorney and their supporters so that each campaign will be conducted in a dignified manner. While recognizing a candidate's right to free expression, the Commission may be expected to speak out when the use of that right violates the Election Campaign Code of Ethics promulgated by the Santa Clara County Bar Association. The Commission seeks to meet this goal by receiving complaints from the candidates, evaluating them and taking appropriate action.
The Commission is impartial and has no power to impose financial or legal sanctions. The Commission acts as a forum to resolve disputes between candidates over the interpretation of the standards of conduct in the SCCBA Election Code. The Commission examines the truthfulness and fairness of a candidate's statements, which are alleged to be false or misleading.
Judicial Assessment Committee
The SCCBA believes that attorneys practicing in Santa Clara County should have a mechanism to provide feedback, constructive as well as concerns, about a particular court in general or about individual judicial officers. To facilitate this, the SCCBA Board of Trustees adopted in 2013 the Judicial Assessment Policy & Procedures.
The Judiciary Committee evaluates candidates whom the Governor is considering for appointment to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. The Governor provides the Judiciary Committee with names of candidates who have been initially vetted by the Governor’s Office. The SCCBA evaluation is conducted simultaneous to the State Bar Judicial Nomination Committee (JNE). The process is confidential and the evaluation provided directly to the Governor is also confidential. The SCCBA President appoints Judiciary Committee members. Interested SCCBA members must submit a Judiciary Committee application in the late fall of each year to be considered for appointment.
Exclusive for SCCBA members a unique online networking opportunity: profiles of state and federal court judges with information that lawyers have traditionally gleaned from networking with other lawyers. This feature provides SCCBA members with profile information received directly from the judge.
Annually, the SCCBA sponsors a dinner with a keynote speaker to honor and recognize the judicial officers who serve in Santa Clara County. The dinner is generally held in Iate October or early November. Because the SCCBA pays for the judges’ dinners, attorneys may invite individual judges to sit at their table for the evening and judges may ethically accept that invitation. Several annual awards are presented, including: Jurist of the Year, Professional Lawyer of the Year, Diversity and Pro Bono.