Contra Costa County's Elder Court received the 2010-11 Kleps Award for Improvement in the Administration of the Courts for innovation in the treatment of elder cases involving harm to seniors, including physical, emotional, and financial abuse. http://www.youtube.com/user/CaliforniaCourts#p/u/4/YLMiE0B-DFU
The cornerstone of the Elder Court program is Elder Court which is held weekly and always before the Hon. Joyce Cram, to ensure continuity.
Elder Court hears every case type that involves elder abuse: restraining orders, felonies and misdemeanors, landlord tenant, small claims and more.
Hearings are held in the late morning or in the branch courts to accommodate elders’ physical needs and/or transportation issues.
Volunteer Senior Peer Counselors, recruited and trained by Contra Costa Health Services, are available during every Elder Court session to assist elders seeking a restraining order. The Senior Peer Counselor greets the elder and offers emotional support prior to the hearing. After
the hearing the volunteer helps the elder understand what happened in the courtroom and process the accompanying emotions.
The Senior Self-Help Center, a program of Contra Costa Senior Legal Services, is housed in the courthouse, just down the hall from Elder Court.
The Center is staffed by experienced attorneys and is open from 9 am until noon on Elder Court days.
The Senior Self-Help Center offers free legal assistance and referrals to indigent seniors. Services include assistance completing restraining order and small claims forms, consumer credit, unlawful detainer and foreclosure actions, as well as preparing for hearings.
“Elder Court grew out of an understanding that elder victims’ legal problems are complex and multifaceted, not always capable of resolution through the usual court process. Elders have special physical, mental and psychological needs that traditional courtrooms were poorly equipped to address. Also, although there were agencies in the community offering services for abused elders, there was little communication or coordination between them.” - Hon. Joyce Cram, Superior Court of Contra Costa County
The Elder Court program is a unique partnership of the court and community pooling their resources to ensure justice for elders.