Sonoma County Superior Court Hires New Court Director

A veteran Solano County court administrator has been hired as the new Sonoma County superior court director, according to court officials.

Robert “Bob” Oliver, who has about 15 years of experience in state superior court administration, will begin August 15 in Sonoma County.

He will fill the vacancy created by the as yet unexplained departure in May of former court management officer Arlene Junior.

“Bob comes to us with enormous experience in the justice system,” Sonoma County Superior Court Presiding Judge Shelly Averill said in an email last week to court agency heads. “He is looking forward to joining us and we are confident he will be a fabulous leader.”

Oliver, who lives in Petaluma, was unavailable Tuesday for comment because he is traveling out of state, according to Averill.

An email sent to his address in Solano County Superior Court returned an automated response saying he was out of the office until Monday.

As the court’s chief executive, Oliver will be responsible for overseeing the administration of the court’s non-judicial operations, including personnel, budget, schedule, jury system, public relations and other operations.

It will also manage a support staff of 192 employees, an annual budget of approximately $33 million and four separate courthouses: the Courthouse, the Civil and Family Courthouse, the ‘Empire and the Juvenile Justice Center.

Oliver got his start in court administration at the Napa County Superior Court as a court administration analyst in 2007, according to Averill. He also worked in Contra Costa Superior Court before joining Solano County Superior Court as an assistant court manager in 2016, where he has worked ever since.

He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco, as well as a certificate in court management from the National Center for State Courts’ Institute for Court Management, where he is also a certified instructor.

His hiring comes several months after the former leader, Junior, abruptly left his post.

Multiple sources had told The Press Democrat that Junior, who was hired in 2017, was placed on administrative leave at the end of April, although Averill did not answer questions or explain Junior’s status.

Averill, who as presiding judge has the power to hire and fire the general manager position, also declined to release most correspondence related to Junior’s employment and departure.

The court began looking in early May for a new chief executive to replace Junior.

Kim Turner, Chief Executive of the Superior Court of Mendocino County, also assisted in the recruitment and interview process. Oliver was selected from three final applicants, Averill said.

His starting salary range starts at $212,000, according to the job listing.

“We are extremely pleased to have Mr Oliver leading the court as we continue to focus on rebuilding after the pandemic. He’s a very positive, team-oriented leader and we think he’s the perfect person to take us forward,” Averill said.

Public defender Brian Morris said that during the executive vacancy, Averill and other justices have been working with justice partners, or agencies operating in the courthouse and within the court system, to ensure the status what.

“We look forward to continuing this collaboration with Court’s new CEO,” Morris said in an email.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch, another justice partner, hoped Oliver would continue the leadership she said Junior had provided before him.

“The former CEO embraced the collaborative nature of the work we do to keep the wheels turning, while understanding the role that each of the departments plays in this effort. After natural disasters, a pandemic and an implemented case management system with operational shortcomings, the court is nevertheless ready for the future in a new courthouse and with new judges and other justice partners because of that dedication,” Ravitch said in an email.

“I hope the new CEO will respect the work that has been done and can provide the leadership that will continue to serve this community,” she added.

You can reach editor Emily Wilder at 707-521-5337 or emily.wilder@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @vv1lder.

About Jessica J. Bass

Check Also

Court ruling could release killer of Jennifer Mullin, 17, in Weymouth

WEYMOUTH — Joseph Mullin’s family had a small sense of closure in 1998, when a …