Monica Vedolla was placed at the Orange County Superior Court, as a member of the 2015-2016 Judicial Administration class. As a judicial fellow, Monica studied the effects of Proposition 47 on Orange County’s Drug Court program. Additionally, she conducted analyses on various online services aimed to provide equal access to justice for all litigants and to increase public access to the Court. Throughout the duration of her fellowship, Monica had the privilege of working alongside a team of innovative and progressive court administrators, managers, and judicial staff.
Prior to participating in the Judicial Administration Fellowship, she graduated from Sonoma State University in 2015 with a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies. While attending Sonoma State, she also worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at the Main Adult Detention Facility, and interned at Verity, Sonoma County’s Rape Crisis Center, as a crisis line counselor. Monica is currently employed by the Sonoma County Probation Department as a Deputy Probation Officer in the investigations unit.
Upon entering the fellowship, I was at a crossroads in my career path, between deciding to attend law school or pursue a career in probation. Being exposed to the collaborative culture of Orange County’s Drug Court program solidified my decision to pursue a career in probation. The fellowship provided an opportunity for professional growth. Through the fellowship experience, I developed skills and attained knowledge that I apply to my current position in the investigations unit. As a probation officer, I serve as a neutral arm of the Court, by writing comprehensive presentence reports that include information pertinent to the criminal offense and the offender, as well as provide sentencing recommendations.
Sarah Vance Guenther, owner and principal consultant of SVGlobal Consulting, served as a Judicial Administration Fellow from 2007-2008 based at the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. Following her fellowship, she worked as a Management Analyst at the Alameda court focused on communications, public affairs, and collaborative justice programming. With a current focus on court communications and public affairs consulting, she served as a Judicial Public Information Expert for the USAID Promoting Rule of Law Project in Myanmar in 2015 and will return in 2017. In addition to public information consulting, Sarah frequently serves as a grant/proposal writer developing submission on behalf of public agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations focused on rule of law, collaborative justice, and civil society issues.
Prior to her work with the courts, Sarah worked as a development associate with Tetra Tech DPK focused on rule of law issues in the developing world, a court management consultant for the judicial branch in Macedonia, and as a teacher and trainer in Japan. Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University, a graduate certificate in Project Planning and Management from the University of California at Davis, and attended law school at the University of San Francisco.
The Fellowship presented the opportunity to learn and work with great people at a pivotal point in my career. It changed my career trajectory and continues to open doors and introduce thoughtful and talented people throughout California. It offered exposure to different approaches to similar challenges across the state, and an opportunity to really consider about what works, where it works, and why it works.
The fellowship remains an important counterpoint to the international consulting and federal grant writing that I do. California’s diversity on multiple levels provides an important touchstone to how I approach and address best practices in judicial administration and civil society programming. My tenure as a fellow highlighted access to justice and communication issues that impact individual courthouses as well as the judicial branch as a whole; these issues remain a central theme in my work today.
I am incredibly grateful for the fellowship opportunity and hope to pay forward the generosity and genuine enthusiasm for public service that I’ve received as a Fellow and after.
Carlos Martinez is a member of the 2015-2016 Judicial Administration Fellowship cohort and was placed at the San Francisco Superior Court. Originally from San Diego, he graduated from Santa Clara University in 2015 with a B.S. in Political Science and minors in Music and Sociology. While at Santa Clara, he studied public law in Washington, D.C., interned at the Public Defender’s Office, and volunteered at a children’s orphanage in Nepal. He currently works at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center as a Capital Defense Investigator for the state of California.
“The Judicial Administration Fellowship was an invaluable experience that shaped my current understanding of our state’s judiciary. I entered the Fellowship with a passion for indigent defense but no substantial experience in the judicial system. To me, the courts were an intimidating and complex maze of processes that were unintelligible. While I was right about the judiciary’s complexity, the fellowship’s combination of a court placement with monthly academic seminars made these complexities both understandable and relevant. My court placement granted me the flexibility to study and participate in court services that assist indigent populations, and the academic seminars studied these specific services in the context of the state judicial branch. I am currently a capital defense investigator for the state of California, an especially niche field that involves complex judicial administration spanning decades. My fellowship experience not only prepared me for some of the administrative realities of capital defense, but it also provided a broader understanding that helps me better explain the process to the affected populations I work with. I’m not sure if I would have the same level of understanding if not for my fellowship experience.”