Paul Seeman - Former Judge in Northern California

Over the course of his career as a judge and court commissioner, Paul Seeman has emerged has a leader in several Northern California judicial systems, recognized with the Wilmont Sweeney Award as California Juvenile Court Judge of the Year in 2009. After completing his JD at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, he started his own private practice, specializing in criminal and juvenile appeals and trials. During his time in private practice, Paul Seeman also worked on cases in areas such as international environmental law and disability rights.

After nearly 25 years in private practice, Paul Seeman was appointed in 2004 as court commissioner with the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. Most recently, he served as a judge with the Alameda County Superior Court, where he chaired the Alameda County Collaborative Juvenile Court, the Collaborative Court Committee, and the Alameda County Juvenile Officers Coordinating Committee.

In addition to his practice, Seeman also served on the board of directors of a number of non-profit organizations, including the Alameda County Court-Appointed Special Advocates Program and the Donald P. McCullum Youth Court.

Juvenile Mental Health Needs and the Justice System

Paul Seeman most recently was a judge on the Alameda County Superior Court. The recipient of the 2009 Juvenile Court Judge of the Year honor, Paul Seeman also helped establish the Alameda County Juvenile Mental Health Court.

According to the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, approximately two-thirds of youth who interact with the juvenile justice system are experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition. What’s more, over 60 percent of these young people also have a disorder involving substance abuse.

One initiative aimed at significantly increasing the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system in addressing the problem is Models for Change, a program that seeks fair, appropriate care for such children. Working with the mental health community, Models for Change works to divert youth from the justice system and into assistance programs that can serve them more effectively. Mental Health Courts are one of the diversion strategies though which juvenile court judges can direct youth to receive mental health treatment in community settings, with better access to professional mental health providers and services.