Recent News


Assistance League of Laguna Beach grant to Collaborative Court Drug Court provided scholarships for participants

On Thursday, Jan. 22, Assistance League of Laguna Beach President Judy Soulakis presented two Collaborative Court Drug Court participants with scholarships. The scholarships were funded by the $20,000 grant given to the Collaborative Courts Foundation (CCF) by the Assistance League. The Foundation is a local nonprofit whose mission is to promote the success of participants in the Orange County Collaborative Courts programs. The grant was designated for assisting participants in meeting transportation, medical, dental, vision, and education needs. 

Kathy Burnham, CCF Executive Director, arranged for Assistance League members to meet with Honorable Matthew Anderson, Judge of the Superior Court, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach, in his chambers before attending his Drug Court session. The session included the presentation of scholarships to Chris Grant and Michelle Cleary, progress reports given by Drug Court participants and their teams, and the graduation of a participant after successful completion of a rigorous two-year Drug Court program. 

At Drug Court: from left to right: Judy Soulakis, Assistance League President; Chris Grant and Michelle Cleary, scholarship winners; Judge Matthew Anderson; and Gayle Whitaker, Assistance League Vice President of Philanthropy

Assistance League members were very moved and inspired by the experience and came away with an understanding of the value of the therapeutic justice of the Collaborative Courts. 

In the words of one member, “This was one of the most embracing and heart-warming experiences I’ve experienced on behalf of ALLB”, and another said, “With respectful, systematic help and continual encouragement, they are proving they can get their lives on track.”


The Promise of Veterans Court

By The Honorable Wendy S. Lindley and Solange E. Ritchie, Journal, The North Carolina State Bar, 

Summer 2013 :: Read full article »

"When I got back from Iraq, I had a hard time adjusting.  I was emotionally numb.  I didn't care about my family. I didn't care about myself.  I found life to be meaningless.  I was filled with hate and anger."   "I did not have the tools to deal with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and an amputation.  Instead of asking for help, I chose a slow suicide of drugs and alcohol."

These are the actual words of veteran graduates of a unique program in Orange County, California called the combat veterans court ("veterans court").  Veterans court in Orange County was established in November 2008 to serve combat veterans with mental health issues who have become involved with the criminal justice system.  This groundbreaking program - the first to be established in California and the second in the nation - embodies an approach based on compassion and healing, as opposed to blame and incarceration.

The program has attracted national attention as an innovative and effective way to help combat veterans overcome the issues that impede their full reintegration into society, while protecting public safety and reducing the costs associated with recidivism.  


DUI Court Graduation: Repeat drunken drivers celebrate sobriety

By Greg Hardesty, The Orange County Register, December 20, 2012 :: Read full article »

Her voice barely audible, the mother stepped to the podium to address the court.  "Sobriety is the greatest gift I've ever had," she said.  As the woman spoke, Judge Matthew Anderson, 54, beamed.  And when she finished, like others in the packed courtroom at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, the judge broke into applause. 

For nine "hard-core impaired drivers," Dec. 11 was graduation day.  All were successful participants in DUI Court, a countywide program that is a national model for making the community safer by identifying repeat drunken drivers before they become killers.  

Orange County established one of the nation's first DUI Courts in 2004, and today the court is one of four nationally designated "academy" courts, meaning it provides resources and training for new DUI Courts throughout the country.


Collaborative Courts Foundation's Fundraiser 2012

By Donna Bunce, Donna on the Town, October 16, 2012 :: Read full article »

Most guests took the South Pacific theme to heart at the Collaborative Courts Foundation's second annual fundraising dinner at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach.  I heard about "Some Enchanted Evening" through my friend Zara Cerni, who chaired the event and believes passionately in the foundation's mission to provide non-violent offenders mired in substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness with judicial supervision through rigorously monitored rehabilitation services.  Working alongside the traditional court system, the foundation has been very successful in changing lives.

The evening honored the following Collaborative Courts judges:  Matthew Anderson, Debra Carrillo, Michael Cassidy,  Maria Hernandez, Richard Lee, Wendy Lindley,  Kimberly Menninger, Joe Perez, as well as Commissioners Ronald Klar and Jane Shade.  "It's the most fulfilling thing I've done," Judge Glenda Sanders, Assisting Presiding Judge of the Orange County Superior Court and a former Collaborative Courts Judge, said in her remarks to everyone.


Santa Ana Homeless Outreach Court seeks to help disadvantaged

By Eileen Frere, KABC 7 News, July 30, 2012 :: Read full article and view video »

Orange County's growing homeless population poses special problems for the Superior Courts.  To deal with those problems the county has set up a Homeless Outreach Court system. It's designed to help get people off the streets and save the county money.