El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Nelson Keith Brooks has decided to permanently hang up his robe and lay down his gavel for good. The retiring judge has been off the bench since last summer due to health issues.
“All I received was the information that he was retiring. He hadn’t been medically released to come back to work, but he was hoping to return to work,” said Tania Ugrin-Capobianco, court executive officer in the El Dorado County Superior Court’s South Lake Tahoe Division.
Brooks could not be reached for comment.
Brooks cleared his calendar as of Aug. 8, 2016, two months after being re-elected to another six-year term. He continued to receive a paycheck while on medical leave. His annual salary is listed as $189,041.
Several months after Brooks left the bench his family released a statement explaining that his absence was due to a “a cardiovascular event last summer.”
“The family greatly appreciates all the caring concern that has been expressed by the public regarding this unfortunate event,” the statement continues.
Visiting judges have taken turns filing in for Brooks in Department 7. Ugrin-Capobianco confirmed that arrangement will continue until the governor appoints a new judge to replace Brooks.
“Brooks will fall under the JRS2 (retirement benefits for judicial officers) and it will be done by the state,” she said.
Presiding Judge Suzanne N. Kingsbury issued a statement after Brooks announced his intent to retire, thanking him “for his many contributions to the effective delivery of justice for the county of El Dorado.”
“During this time of shrinking judicial budgets, he worked diligently to identify areas where expenses could be minimized, while still improving the court’s service to our community, eliminating unnecessary, duplicative and resource consuming court appearances,” Kingsbury noted. “He succeeded in implementing a new, streamlined system for requesting necessary appearances directly through the court’s website, saving defendants and their attorneys costly in-person appearances for the sole purpose of selecting a hearing date.
“Judge Brooks has been a true champion of the law and a supporter of court staff and will be truly missed,” she concluded. ” We wish him all the best in this new chapter in life.”
Brooks began his career as a judge on March 26, 2009, when he was an appointee by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. During his career he presided over family law and civil and juvenile divisions before ending his career in Department 7 (criminal pre-trial) in Placerville.