Riverside County Desperately needs more judges, please [Opinion]

Mike Hestrin, the elected district attorney, in a county with 2.5 million residents, and Chad Bianco, the elected Sheriff-Coroner of Riverside County, are growing increasingly upset over Riverside County judges cutting lose record numbers of people charged with felonies and misdemeanors.

The last series of cases dismissed totaled 1,300 alleged criminals being set free.

Some 200 of those cases were filed as serious felonies by the District Attorney. This looks like judges are buying into a George Soros effort to stop jail terms for criminals.

Bianco, as the county’s chief law enforcement officer, is frustrated. His department, the fourth largest sheriff’s department in the nation, works hard to make arrests and solve crimes.

Hestrin, as the district attorney, and his team file cases brought forward by police and sheriff’s deputies, to make the county safer and punish criminals.

Over the past 20 years, county supervisors have practically begged the past and current Governor to appoint more judges and add additional judges to the bench. Little, if any, headway has been made.

While the county population has more than doubled, it still tries cases with fewer judges than most counties with populations approaching 3 million.

The state’s Legislature has also failed to address this crisis in the justice system. Maybe, just maybe, Richard Roth, a Democratic state Senator, can do something to help.

Roth gets it. He’s an attorney who worked cases in the Riverside County Court system for decades. To be fair, Roth also wants to take the seat held by Supervisor Kevin Jeffries who is retiring at the end of this term.

When Jeffries rides off into the sunset, four-fifths of the Board will be in Democrats’ hands. No telling if Supervisor Karen Speigel can hold on to her seat as the Democrats now dominate voter registration in that district.

In the last election cycle, the voters, in a county that turned Democratic, gave Republicans Bianco and Hestrin landslide victories. That signal is loud and clear.

Voters want safer streets and schools. They elected Bianco, who ran on a tough-on-crime platform, and Hestrin to make the county and its 28 cities safer. The action taken by judges to drop 1,300 cases is an injustice to all victims of those 1,300 crimes.

Fighting crime is getting more and more difficult in desert cities and the county. It’s not our police or sheriff’s deputies failing to do the job. It’s not the District Attorney or his staff. The judges hold powerful positions. Yes, their “Canons” prohibit them from “going political.” Rather than letting alleged criminals off before trial, they need to double down.

Riverside County and its justice system are a train wreck. The derailment isn’t the fault of our Sheriff, district attorney, or the crime fighters. It’s time for the state to step up to fund and appoint more judges.




Image Sources

  • Female Judge: Pexels, Ekaterina Bolovtsova