Presiding Judge Slough Elevated To Appellate Court

Governor Jerry Brown this week elevated San Bernardino County Presiding Judge Marsha G. Slough to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Riverside.
Slough, who was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Gray Davis in 2003, has served as presiding judge in San Bernardino County since 2012.
Slough, a Democrat, submitted an application for the appointment earlier this year. Brown’ gave her the nod on the basis of a positive evaluation completed by the Judicial Nomination Evaluation Committee as well as her role in managing the San Bernardino County court system in accordance with financial constraints imposed upon it by Sacramento.
According to California’s Judicial Needs Assessment, San Bernardino County should have 156 judges. At the same time, the state has authorized 91 judges to serve on the courts located in San Bernardino County but has provided funding for only 86.
“We have more than fifty percent fewer employees – judges and staff – than we need,” Slough told the Sentinel in 2014. “This is a horrific situation. It is remarkable, to be honest with you, that we are still functioning and meeting our statutory requirements.”
The state’s parsimony with regard to the court system is reflected in the reductions made to the San Bernardino County Court’s budget. In 2008-09, the court system in San Bernardino County was provided with $110 million to carry out its operations. By 2012-13, the money supplied by the state to the county court system dropped precipitously to $84 million.
Slough initially dealt with the budgetary limitations imposed on the court system by the governor and the legislature by extending the consolidations and court closures initiated by her predecessor as presiding judge, Ronald M. Christianson. Their combined program entailed shuttering the Needles courthouse at the county’s northeast end, the closure of the Chino courthouse at the county’s southwest end, the closure of courthouses in the San Bernardino Mountain communities and the removal of civil cases from the Victorville and Joshua Tree courthouses and the closure of the county’s northernmost courthouse, located in Barstow. Under pressure, Slough consented to reopening the Barstow courthouse three days a week for traffic cases but that was followed up with Slough’s coup de grâce, a comprehensive court realignment effectuated in 2014 after the completion of the San Bernardino Justice Center, an eleven story edifice with 40 courtrooms in downtown San Bernardino. Under the terms of Slough’s realignment, all civil cases countywide were transferred to the newly-constructed Justice Center, which also became the venue for San Bernardino district criminal cases, which had formerly been heard in the San Bernardino Central Courthouse built in 1927. The West Valley Superior Courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga, which had been a venue for both civil and criminal cases originating on the west end of the county, was devoted primarily to criminal cases, including those arising on the county’s west end and other felony and misdemeanor cases from the county’s central district which had been heard at the Fontana Courthouse. A small portion of the criminal cases formerly heard in Fontana were also re-venued to San Bernardino. Rancho Cucamonga’s West Valley Courthouse also became the forum for hearings on both civil and domestic violence restraining orders. The historic San Bernardino Courthouse was kept in service as the forum for the family law cases it had traditionally hosted along with the family law cases previously heard in Rancho Cucamonga.
The Fontana Courthouse became the stage for all small claims, landlord tenant disputes and traffic/non-traffic infractions from the San Bernardino, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga districts.
The realignment was highly unpopular with attorneys and county residents in a county that at 20,105 square miles is the largest in the lower 48 states, with a land area larger than that of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined. In some cases, county residents are obliged to endure the hardship of driving interminably long distances to attend court. Driving distance from Needles to San Bernardino is 212 miles, with an average one-way traveling time of three hours and nine minutes. The driving distance from Trona to San Bernardino is 134 miles with a one-way traveling time of two hours and 20 minutes. It is a 71 mile drive from Barstow to San Bernardino with an average traveling time of one hour and 20 minutes. It is a 90 mile drive from Twentynine Palms to San Bernardino, with a typical traveling time of one hour and 45 minutes. It is a 40 mile drive to San Bernardino from Chino Hills, entailing 47 minutes of commuting time under good highway conditions and as much as an hour and 30 minutes during rush hour.
Nevertheless, Brown’s measure of Slough’s success did not extend to considerations of the inconveniences to which the county’s citizens have been put as a result of Slough’s economies but rather her ability to simply keep the justice system operational in San Bernardino County.
Slough, 57 of Redlands, received an undergraduate degree in liberal studies from Ottawa University in Kansas, where she attended on a basketball scholarship. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School.
Early in her career, as an associate with the firm Welebir & McCune in Redlands and then with the firm of Markman, Arczynski, Hanson, Curley and Slough in Brea, she practiced primarily in the arenas of automobile insurance and product liability defense. In 2002, she formed a partnership with Jeffrey Raynes and represented personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiffs.

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