Deputy Sheriff Ron Lorimor signals the start of a new day by raising the flag at Butte's main courthouse in Oroville. Built in two sections, the first completed in 1971 and the second in 1996, the building houses eight courtrooms and is the largest of the county's five court locations. Two additional courtrooms are to be added in the near future and should be ready for use by the end of 2003.
Public Defender Steven Trenholme conducts a hallway conference with a client and his fiancée. Mr. Trenholme will spend most of the day at the courthouse.
At a security station in the courthouse lobby, Court Attendant Jim Lightbody gives directions to a court user who rushed to the Oroville courthouse only to be redirected to the court's Chico facility.
Nikol Gould keeps her daughter entertained in the hall outside Judge Darrell W. Stevens's courtroom, where her brother is enrolled in drug court.
Inside the courtroom, Judge Stevens reviews the file of a drug court client. Judge Stevens, who serves as chair of the Judicial Council's Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee, is one of the nation's leading proponents of drug courts.
Court Executive Officer Sharol Strickland (back to camera) administers an oath of office to a new court clerk, Luisa Christensen. Ms. Christensen joins over 120 court employees in Butte County.
Court Interpreter Ximena Oliver translates the court's instructions on probation for a defendant in custody since September. Ms. Oliver provides interpreting services for several Northern California courts.
At the civil counter, Court Clerk Loretta Long provides instructions to a court client on the forms necessary to initiate proceedings for dissolution of marriage.
In a secure holding cell outside courtroom 3, Public Defender William Short counsels a client charged in a child abduction case.
Now 30 years old, the older section of the courthouse requires substantial maintenance. Here, a crew member from Crawford Construction in Chico reroutes electrical wires in a section of the courthouse temporarily closed for remodeling.
Family Law Facilitator Lorie Brooks assists court clients in completing child support forms and counsels them on court procedures. Ms. Brooks holds several weekly workshops on divorce and child support and offers walk-in and individual appointments.
In the Butte County Law Library, Judge Barbara L. Roberts and Library Director John Zorbas review statutes related to a paternity case. The Butte court's library has been called "the biggest little law library in California."
In another part of the library, Jeff Jarrett prepares for a child support case in which he plans to represent himself. The court estimates that one or both parties are self-represented in 60 percent of family law cases and require significantly more assistance from court staff.
Court Compliance Specialist Susan Cavanagh counsels a client who explains that he has been "in and out of jail for two years and broke" and is moving to Missouri. Still, she is able to negotiate payment on a court-levied fine.
For Sheriff's Deputy Tim Morris and others, lunchtime at the courthouse means hotdogs from vendor Larry Currier, who operates a food stand on behalf of Citywide Ministries, a group that assists the homeless.
Chief Technology Officer Larry Maligie and Information Systems Analyst Philip Dispensa inspect a problem cable in the Network Operations Center at the courthouse. The court's Information Systems team provides support to more than 300 computer users in the court's five facilities and, through links, to the offices of the district attorney, probation department and sheriff.
Outside the courthouse, sheriff's deputies operate two vans used for transporting defendants in custody the short, one-quarter mile from the jail to the courthouse. Defendants are brought to a secure sally port below the courtrooms.
Judge Gerald Hermansen confers in his chambers with court staff. Judge Hermansen has served on the Butte County bench for 5 years, and served as presiding judge of the 10-judge, 2-commissioner court in 2000.
In courtroom 4, Judge William R. Patrick presides over a criminal case with the support of Court Reporter Karen Beckwith and Sheriff's Deputy Steve Collins.
Research Attorney Gary Knippen works in a makeshift office shared with another staff attorney and an assigned judge while the building undergoes renovation.
The hallway fills after Judge Patrick dismisses the jury for the day
Court Clerk James Richardson processes judgments, orders, and other documents created during the court day.
Office Assistant Stacy Mangus posts the next day's calendar in the main corridor of the courthouse.
The court workday officially ends as Deputy Sheriff Lorimor lowers the flag and returns it to the courthouse until the next morning.