The probate unit of the Sacramento County Superior Court (Department 129) will have a new judge in January 2020. Judge Kevin R. Culhane will be the probate judge, replacing Judge John P. Winn who has served in that role since January 2018.
After many years as a civil trial lawyer, Judge Culhane joined the bench in 2009. He was the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento County Superior Court from 2016-2017 and received the Judge of the Year Award from the Sacramento County Bar Association in 2017. A Sacramento Lawyer article on Judge Culhane, written by Presiding Justice Art Scotland (ret.), can be found here.
Department 129, located on the second floor of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse amidst family law departments, handles all proceedings under the Probate Code, ranging from guardianships, conservatorships and routine probate matters to hotly-contested trust and estate disputes. While “short cause” trials are heard in Department 129, “long cause” trials are sent to trial departments at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse in downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento County has a high volume of probate cases. According to the most recent report from the Judicial Council of California, Sacramento had 2,047 new probate filings in fiscal year 2017-2018, more than double the probate filings in San Francisco. At a typical 9:00 a.m. probate calendar in Department 129, several dozen matters are heard.