THE HONORABLE LEONARD P. EDWARDS (ret)
California CASA Association is proud and grateful to have the privilege of recognizing the Honorable Leonard P. Edwards (ret.) as a true CASA Champion, and someone who has devoted much of his life to improving the outcomes for children and families in California, nationally and internationally.
When asked why he’s so driven to help others, Judge Edwards replied: “It’s in my DNA. As early as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to give opportunities to people who haven’t had opportunities. I want to break down barriers. I want to let people be all that they can be during their lives.”
Judge Edwards is retired from the bench and is actively working as a consultant, educator, and trainer. He has conducted trainings in 48 states and 12 foreign countries as well as over 300 invited presentations in the United States. He provides technical assistance to the courts of California and across the country, particularly in areas involving children and families.
In 2004, Judge Edwards received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. The award is presented annually by the National Center for State Courts to a state court judge who exemplifies the highest level of judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Judge Edwards was the first juvenile court judge to receive the award.
In 1986, while attending the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges conference, Judge Edwards heard about the tremendous impact newly formed Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs were having on permanency outcomes for foster children across the country. Starting a CASA program became one of his highest priorities.
“CASAs are the most important people in our community to support our most needy and vulnerable children,” Judge Edwards explains. “…I’m proud to have helped bring the CASA program to Santa Clara County.”
During his judicial career, Judge Edwards also founded and was the first president of the Juvenile Court Judges of California. He served for 26 years as a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County, and for six years as Judge-in-Residence with the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, a division of the California Administrative Office of the Courts. He was founder of the Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Council and Kids In Common. Judge Edwards was the President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in 2002-2003. He taught at the University of Santa Clara Law School, Stanford Law School, and the California Judicial College. Judge Edwards has written widely, including recent books The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics and Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Response. Many of his articles and videos can be found on his website at judgeleonardedwards.com.
Be sure to take a look at this mentoring article by Judge Edwards from his recent blog: One Caring Adult