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San Bernardino’s Nash Heads to Contra Costa

(CN) - San Bernardino head clerk Stephen Nash is headed back to the Bay Area after accepting a job as head administrator for Contra Costa Superior Court.

"We're still faced with extraordinary budget problems and there are few people who have the depth of knowledge about the court's finances that Stephen has," Contra Costa Presiding Judge Barry Goode said.

"We've worked very hard to try to have in mind the impact of these cuts, not just on the public we serve but on the people who work here," Goode added. "It's been a challenging effort to manage through these difficulties in a sensitive and thoughtful way and Stephen will be able to do that."

The presiding judge said the court sought out Nash and recruited him.

"We set out to find somebody who had statewide experience and a deep knowledge of the judicial branch. He's clearly one of the top CEOs in the state," Goode said.

Nash replaces Kiri Torre, who retired in June. She had been in the position for five years. "Kiri was one of the finest CEOs in the state. I see Stephen helping to lead the court in that same fashion," Goode said.

Nash starts his new job in December, bringing with him a long history in state government. Before taking the San Bernardino job in 2011, he was finance director for the Administrative Office of the Courts for four years.

At an earlier job, Nash worked as a budget analyst for the California Department of Finance.

Nash's move from San Bernardino where electronic filing has been in use since 2010 raises the question of whether he will push for a similar program in Contra Costa. Goode said the court currently uses e-filing for its complex civil cases and would like to expand.

But the Legislature's upcoming decision whether to support Governor Jerry Brown's plan to sweep court reserves will determine the fate of programs like e-filing.

"If that's done we lose the ability to save money for investments that bring greater efficiency to the court," said the judge. "If the Legislature deprives us of the ability to save our money to create those efficiencies, it will fall by the wayside. It takes incredible staff time to do something like move to e-filing. We have 296 employees. We're down to one-third. We struggle everyday to keep clerks in the courtroom. So the idea of doing something like e-filing that requires substantial staff time is a challenge."

"It's on our list of goals for the court," Goode added. "But, given our limited resources, and the uncertainty of next year's budget situation, it's a question of balancing the expense of e-filing versus other expenses. If anybody can do it, Stephen can do it. But we've had terrific CEOs. It's not a question of the talent of the CEO but the resources the court has. Not even the best person can make gold out of straw."

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