Presiding Judge Steven MaurerClackamas County Circuit Court
The Hon. Steven Maurer was recently honored in Clackamas County for 20 years service on the bench. For the past four years he has served as the presiding judge.
Judge Maurer is proud of the treatment courts currently operating in Clackamas County. He declined to take personal credit for the success of the treatment courts, giving full credit to his colleagues on the bench. He described how Judge Robert Selander worked to establish the current drug court, which is highly successful in providing treatment options for offenders. It has been used as a model for other counties throughout the state.
The mental health court addresses the needs of criminal defendants who have committed crimes as a result of mental health issues. All of the judges in Clackamas County work to identify citizens in need of mental health services. The courts work with a committee consisting of members from Clackamas County Mental Health, a representative from the District Attorney's Office and a representative from the Indigent Defense Group. Judge Selander currently presides over the mental health court.
The Hon. Ron Thom currently presides over the DUII court which provides treatment services for persons who have committed alcohol-related crimes.
Judge Maurer described the Judge Kathie Steele's hard work on the domestic violence court. This treatment court offers deferred sentencing options which include treatment for anger management and other alternative sentencing options.
The community court targets vulnerable communities within Clackamas County, targeting areas such as Overland Park. Judge Maurer credits Judge Doug Van Dyk for his commitment to making the community courts a success. The court addresses issues related to homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health. Numerous community groups work with the court in addressing community problems. The community court has been successful in reducing many of the problems that lead to crime.
Judge Maurer commends Judge Deanne Darling for her work presiding over the drug court for juveniles. The court process is structured to include the juvenile's family.
Judge Maurer also described the restitution court. This court increases the court's involvement in ensuring that offenders pay restitution to crime victims. The Hon. Kenneth Stewart is currently presiding over this court. Judge Maurer highlights this as a very important part of Clackamas County treatment courts, because it gives offenders an opportunity to "make things right" for victims of crime. In June, the court began accepting telephone credit card payments for restitution and compensatory fines. More victims are receiving payments on time and often offenders are able to pay the entire balance.
In addition to the treatment and community courts, Clackamas County has established a construction defect litigation referee program which is modeled after the program in Multnomah County. Complex construction litigation is supervised by a third party referee assisting the parties as they navigate through this complex process. Mediation is available to assist and promote the settlement process. After the case leaves the referee program, it is assigned to a specific judge.
Clackamas County now sends out all trial and hearing notices by e-mail. This is not only efficient, but it saves the county significant postage fees.
Judge Maurer described his biggest challenge as the "resource issue" of always having to do "more with less" with a budget that is not sufficient to meet all the needs of the community. He recognizes Clackamas County needs more judges. He cites one of the rewards of his work as a presiding judge is witnessing firsthand the good work and dedication of his friends and colleagues on the bench. He also speaks highly of members of the bar who serve the Clackamas County Bar Association and who donate their time as pro tem judges.
Judge Maurer strongly believes every member of the staff in Clackamas County plays a vital role in running and operating the courthouse. He presides over a quarterly teamwork appreciation meeting, recognizing employees who have excelled at their jobs. The Family Court Specialist Team was recently recognized for revamping and streamlining the FAPA docket. This has reduced customer frustration and has led to a much more efficient court staff. In addition, the Family Court Specialist Team has created a family court page which will soon appear on the court's Web site.
As Judge Maurer details his job, it becomes very clear his priority is to the community he serves. He describes one of his greatest rewards as having the opportunity to see the opening of the front doors of the Clackamas County Courthouse. Citizens now enter the front doors of the building, rather than having to walk down the alley into a side door. This gives the courthouse the dignity and honor it deserves. The photos currently on display also provide a window into the rich history of the Clackamas County Courthouse. Judge Maurer has served with distinction. He exemplifies the adage that ours is an honorable profession.
Originally authored by Kathryn Villa-Smith and published in the November 2008 issue of the Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet September 2009