CAI and CPIL Sponsor Assembly Bill 859 to Address Dependency Caseload of Judges

CAI and CPIL Sponsor Assembly Bill 859 to Address Dependency Caseload of Judges

SAN DIEGO (April 2, 2019) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) and Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) have sponsored Assembly Bill 859 that would require the state legislature to analyze the current average caseloads in the dependency court system and identify an appropriate cap on the number of cases these judges could carry.

CAI and CPIL believe this bill would allow judges more time working with families caught up in the dependency court system. “There is no data on the current average caseload,” according to Robert Fellmeth, executive director for CAI and CPIL. Fellmeth estimates the average caseload is between 500 to 1,000 cases per judge in California, depending on the county. Fellmeth went on to state, “these kids are entirely dependent on the judge making the correct decision.  The more time the judge has, the more information [he or she has], the more time a judge can spend with a kid, the better.”

To read an article published by The Chronicle of Social Change on AB 859, click here.

About the Children’s Advocacy Institute

The Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI), founded at the nonprofit University of San Diego School of Law in 1989, is one of the nation's premiere academic, research, and advocacy organizations working to improve the lives of children and youth, with special emphasis on improving the child protection and foster care systems and enhancing resources that are available to youth aging out of foster care.

In its academic component, CAI trains law students and attorneys to be effective child advocates throughout their legal careers. Its Child Advocacy Clinic gives USD Law students three distinct clinical opportunities to advocate on behalf of children and youth, and its Dependency Counsel Training Program provides comprehensive training to licensed attorneys engaged in or contemplating Dependency Court practice.

CAI's research and advocacy component, conducted through its offices in San Diego, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C., seeks to leverage change for children and youth through impact litigation, regulatory and legislative advocacy, and public education. Active primarily at the federal and state levels, CAI's efforts are multi-faceted—comprehensively and successfully embracing all tools of public interest advocacy to improve the lives of children and youth. To support CAI’s work, please visit

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world.  The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates.  The law school's faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 36th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 29th nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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