Divergence: Rethinking the Justice System

Presented by:

Maria Hernandez photo

The Honorable Judge Maria D. Hernandez
Judge of the Superior Court – Orange County

The Honorable Judge Maria Hernandez was appointed Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court for Orange County on January 1, 2014 where she served until January of 2018. As a juvenile judge she was responsible for both dependency and delinquency inventories, presided over Juvenile Drug Court, Dependency Drug Court and the Boys Court program. Judge Hernandez created and presided over the dedicated court addressing commercially sexually exploited children (GRACE-Generating Resources to Abolish Child Exploitation) and co-chairs the Orange County Committee relating to Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). While overseeing all daily court operations for the juvenile branch, she convened the County’s first Juvenile Justice Summit in 2016 which brought together over 400 of the county’s leaders to address the special needs of the children and families of Orange County. Judge Hernandez is currently assigned to the Court’s Felony Trial Panel handling felony criminal trials and has recently created and launched a Young Adult Court (YAC) which will address the special needs of emerging adults charged with felonies in the criminal justice system.

Currently, Judge Hernandez also serves as a member of Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s “Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Initiative”, the Judicial Council of California’s “Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness” and is a faculty member for the Judicial Council of California’s Center for Judiciary Education and Research (CJER). Judge Hernandez leads numerous projects and commissions working to reduce truancy and creating successful educational outcomes for the youth in Orange County.

Elizabeth Cuaffman

Elizabeth Cauffman, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of California Irvine

Elizabeth Cauffman is a Professor in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine and holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society, the School of Education, and the School of Law. Dr. Cauffman received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center on Adolescence at Stanford University. She has published over 100 articles, chapters, and books on a range of topics in the study of contemporary adolescence, including adolescent brain development, risk-taking and decision-making, parent-adolescent relationships, and juvenile justice. Findings from Dr. Cauffman’s research were incorporated into the American Psychological Association’s amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons, which abolished the juvenile death penalty, and in both Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, which placed limits on the use of life without parole as a sentence for juveniles. As part of her larger efforts to help research inform practice and policy, she served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice as well as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications. Dr. Cauffman currently directs the Center for Psychology & Law as well as the Masters in Legal & Forensic Psychology at UCI.

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