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Conference to Focus on Access to Justice

Conference to Focus on Access to Justice

Jurists will address regional shortage of judges in March 8 event at UCR.

(February 29, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The ongoing crisis of courts in the Inland region is the focus of a conference planned at the University of California, Riverside on Saturday, March 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The conference, “Access to Justice in the Inland Empire,” will be held in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Building, Room 1128. A reception will follow in Interdisciplinary Building Room 1113.The event is free and open to the public. There is a $5 charge for parking.

For years, caseloads have been exploding, particularly on the criminal side of the docket. Judgeships have not been created to alleviate congestion in the courts. Civil litigation has virtually ground to halt in the state trial courts as resources have been shifted to criminal proceedings. As a consequence, access to the courts for a wide range of litigants has been effectively denied and the courts’ critical functions in commercial life, protecting civil rights and liberties, and other important matters of public interest have been compromised.

Two distinguished panels will discuss the causes of this crisis, its consequences and potential implications for the future of the region, and potential solutions.

The morning session will include: Richard T. Fields, presiding judge of the Superior Court of Riverside County; Dallas Holmes, retired Superior Court judge in Riverside County; Virginia Phillips, United States District Court judge in the Central District of California; and Ronald Taylor, retired Superior Court judge in Riverside County.

Afternoon participants will include: Riverside attorney Virginia Blumenthal; William Domnarski, federal court practitioner and commentator in Riverside and Los Angeles counties; and Irene Morales, attorney and executive director of Inland Counties Legal Services.

The conference, sponsored by the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, is part of a broader effort to expand UCR’s research, teaching and community outreach regarding law-related subjects. The university has a successful interdisciplinary Law and Society Program for undergraduates and has recently begun planning for an interdisciplinary legal studies center that would create a permanent venue for major conferences and individual lectures of this kind.

The idea for the conference was formulated by political science professors Shaun Bowler and John Cioffi and organized by Piotr Gorecki, professor of history and chair of the Law and Society Program.

“The best thing we can do on this campus is provide our students interested in law and related subjects with maximum exposure to how the legal world operates, warts and all,” Gorecki said. “Maybe, as a university, we can have some impact upon that legal world, or at least suggest to our students how they, ultimately, may have that impact.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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