Yolo County Has Become a ‘Good Ole Boys Club’

The judicial assignments in Yolo Superior Court were released recently with some revisions over even a few weeks ago, and one thing became quite notable – the number of criminal courtrooms has been shrunk from six in the current term, down to four.

All of the judges on the criminal bench are men – the youngest is 57-year-old Judge Tim Fall.  The others are veteran judges – David Rosenberg, Paul Richardson and David Reed.

We noted last year when outgoing Governor Jerry Brown appointed Peter Williams and Tom Dyer to replace two outgoing women – Kathleen White and Janet Gaard – that Governor Brown had created a disproportionate bench in Yolo County with eight male judges and just two women.

Moreover, in a county that is nearly half people of color, there is just one person of color on the bench, Sonia Cortés.

That problem has now been magnified by Judge Sam McAdam, the presiding judge, who removed both Judge Janene Beronio and Judge Cortés from Criminal Court where they have presided this year.  He put Judge Cortés in Family Court and Judge Beronio in Juvenile.

There is one vacancy, and the expectation according to those in the know is that Governor Newsom is expected to fill that vacancy, possibly this month.

But at least according to the judicial assignment page, a new judge would have jurisdiction over a second civil courtroom rather than a fifth criminal courtroom, leaving the criminal courts in Yolo County under the direction of an all-male bench.

The problem is countywide.  All eight elected county positions are currently held by men.  That includes all five of the county board of supervisors.  A decade ago, both positions in Davis were held by women, but Mariko Yamada was replaced in 2008 by Jim Provenza and Don Saylor in 2010 replaced Helen Thomson.  Since 2010, then there has not been a woman on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

The Board has reduced the number of countywide elected positions over the years.  Right now there are just three elected positions – District Attorney, Sheriff, and County Clerk.

When Freddy Oakley retired, Jesse Salinas was appointed to take her place.  The Assessor and Clerk were merged into a single office.  For years, the Public Guardian, then Cass Sylvia, was an elected position.  But in 2016, the Board moved ahead with plans to eliminate the elected office of Public Guardian/Public Administrator, and then split the duties of that office between the Health and Human Services Agency and the Sheriff’s Department.

In addition to the elected positions being held by men, the top administrative positions – County Administrator, Patrick Blacklock, and County Counsel, Phil Pogledich, are also male.

One position headed by a woman in the county is Public Defender – Tracie Olson – and is also an appointed position.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Ron Glick

    Two judges and the public defender are women. So its not a complete shutout.

    But the unsaid implication of the post is that we need more women. Of course what elected race would this be an issue in? The same one where the Vanguard has taken regular cheap shots against the incumbent.

    Three down and seven to go.

  2. Ron Glick

    Perhaps you prefer younger judges like Kavanaugh or Gorsuch.

    Maybe instead of all this identity politics we should focus on fealty to the law and a sense of justice.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Are you implying that a judiciary that more closely reflects the diversity of the state is inconsistent with fealty to the law and a sense of justice? Are these not both worthy goals that are not not mutually exclusive?

      1. Ron Glick

        They can be both mutually exclusive and worthy goals. However, David only raises one of those goals. If I could only raise one of those goals I would choose fealty to the law and a sense of justice before diversification.

  3. Bill Marshall

    The problem is countywide.  All eight elected county positions are currently held by men.

    Yes… no white male should be allowed to run for elected office… only women, and/or folk “of color”, and/or members of LGBT++ community… truly a travesty that voters have elected men.

    They should all be appointed by a commission that reflects the diversity of the County… will you offer to chair that committee?  I believe the commission should be appointed by the most progressive folk…

    Also, points out (by implication) that Provenza should resign, so Deos has a clear shot, until we can take elected office out of the hands of voters… and put it, rightfully, in the hands of a hand-selected commission by the “illuminates”…

    Same for all male judges… they should all resign, and the white male governor be persuaded to only appoint women, preferably of color, and/or LGBT++ to the bench.

    1. Bill Marshall

      David, you also point out another injustice… the only folk on the ballot for DA were white males!

      Great progressive views from a white male!

      Please continue your fight for “justice”…

  4. Alan Miller

    But the unsaid implication of the post is that we need more women.

    David Crosby and the Lighthouse Band have a beautiful song about asking the women to take over, because “we’ve f*cked it up so bad, they couldn’t do any worse”.   Do yourself a favor and listen to this NPR Desk Concert of the band performing “Other Half Rule”.  The song can be found from 5:20 to 10:20 (but the whole concert is worth listening to):


    Crosby, at 78, has assembled two of the greatest bands out there today.  This is his acoustic band.  His electric band, Sky Trails, is equally uber-talented and features his son on keyboards.

  5. Dani Rogers

    The premise of your comment on the removal of Judges Beronio and Cortes from criminal is that criminal is somehow a more important assignment.  That premise is faulty. Juvenile and family assignments are just as important to those they serve – minors and families.  Might want to rethink that angle.

    1. David Greenwald

      That’s a good point, but that was not premise of my comment. The premise of my comment is the lack of diversity of the judges presiding over Yolo County and the criminal courts. I agree that Juvenile (which is in fact criminal) and family are just as important, but the criminal court simply has been our focus and is emblematic of the lack of overall diversity.

      1. Ron Glick

        No, your premise was not limited to the courts at all. In fact your article dovetails nicely into your continued attacks on Jim Provenza because you don’t like Jeff Reisig.

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