SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores is retiring after more than 30 years on the bench.
Judge Flores is currently assigned to the Lompoc Division of the Superior Court in Santa Barbara County.
He is well known for presiding over the Substance Abuse Treatment Court for years, also known as the Drug Court.
A tireless advocate of alternative sentencing for substance abuse offenders, Judge Flores also helped organize the first Veterans Treatment Court in Santa Barbara County.
"I'll be 65 in June with 20 years of service as a judge and 12 years of service as a commissioner", Judge Flores said from his chambers in Lompoc Court, "I'm tired, I've poured my heart and soul into this job and I have had some health issues, 12 years ago I had a heart attack and six months ago I had a minor stroke, so it's time, it's time for me to start reflecting on the rest of my life, the next chapter, turn the page."
Judge Flores sits on the Collaborative Justice Courts Advisory Committee and is a past president of the the Latino Judges of California.
Flores lectures nationally and internationally on the idea of collaborative justice which diverts non-violent offenders away from incarceration and into drug or mental health treatment programs.
"Sometimes you have to put people in jail, the jails are there for a reason, but we've got plenty of hardcore criminals you can lock up, people who are pariahs, people who are preying on the vulnerable people in our community", Judge Flores said, "but when you're dealing with people who have a non-violent drug history or mental health history, let's figure out a better way and save taxpayer dollars at the same time."
Rogelio Flores grew up in the local area, attended Arroyo Grande High School and earned his college degrees from UCLA as an undergraduate and graduate law school student.
Judge Flores plans to step down in the coming weeks with his seat on the bench replaced by appointment of Governor Brown.