By Judge Kathleen White
With regret, I must inform you that, effective November 5th, I have retired for medical reasons. I was recently diagnosed with an advanced neurendocrine cancer, and I am now in the capable hands of the staff of the Stanford Cancer Center.
I have worked in the Yolo Court since 1997, and as a senior supervising judge, I have done every calendar from traffic to felonies, family, juvenile and civil. Over these last 21 years, I’ve heard disputes ranging from $100 rent deposit refunds to a $36 million verdict entered July 2018 in a product liability case. I’ve seen three generations of families struggle through the court system as we tried to resolve their disputes, and more importantly, help the families move forward and out of the court system. I have had a front row seat on the human drama, by which I have been continually humbled and educated.
What have I learned?
-Most people will eventually do the right thing if you point the way and provide clear incentives-and disincentives.
-Many families in our community suffer quietly under tremendous financial, emotional, medical and mental health challenges. They need help, and sometimes the court system is not the best means to help them, try as we might.
-Yolo County is blessed with a wonderful bar, dedicated volunteers and county/municipal/school staff whose work is often unsung and always invaluable to those they help.
Judges get few kudos, as it should be. It is a monastic life by design. Occasionally, we get a note from someone who appeared before us years ago as a criminal defendant or child in a juvenile or family proceeding. The note tells us their success stories, that they survived the court process and turned out OK. These notes tell judges all the effort, all the nights we lost sleep working through difficult decisions, were worth it- even though not all stories have happy endings. Judges treasure those notes. I know I do.
It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to work with you all and serve the people of Yolo County. Although I have retired to a place closer to my medical care, I will always consider Yolo as home.
I shall miss you all.
Editor’s Note: Judge Janet Gaard has also announced her retirement effective at the end of this month.