A veteran Riverside County Superior Court judge respected for successfully dealing with a massive judicial backlog of criminal cases has been promoted to a state applellate court, the governor’s office announced Friday.
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Judge Richard Fields, 57, of Corona to Division Two of the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
He also appointed attorney Kira Klatchko, 35, of Palm Springs to a judgeship at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Fields will fill a vacancy left following the retirement of Justice Jeffrey King.
Fields, a Democrat, has been on the bench since 1991, serving as a judicial commissioner for nine years before receiving a formal judgeship.
In 2008, he was the county’s presiding judge and helped reorganize the courts to contend with a backlog of thousands of untried felony cases. The state eventually dispatched a “judicial strike team” composed of active and retired judges from throughout California to accelerate dispositions.
Fields was highly responsive to local media during the ordeal, during which civil matters were routinely bumped from judges’ calendars to make room for criminal trials. The strike team wrapped up its work by 2010.
Prior to taking the bench, Fields was a public defender. He’s currently presiding over arraignments and status hearings, as well as assigning cases to courtrooms for trial, at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
His annual compensation as an appellate judicial officer will be $219,272.
Klatchko, also a Democrat, has been a partner in the appellate practice of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith since 2015. Prior to her move to the national firm, she was an attorney for Riverside-based Best, Best & Krieger, starting her career there as an associate in 2005.
She will fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Christian Thierbach and receive an annual salary of $191,612.
— City News Service