Under general direction, the Court Investigator performs independent work, conducts field investigations for probate conservatorships and guardianships. The Court Investigator also attends hearings, as necessary, to provide reports to the court; consults with judicial officers, attorneys, and parties involved in assigned cases; prepares reports and recommendations for the court.
This classification encompasses a variety of investigator roles, including investigations in probate areas. This class is distinguished from the Child Custody Recommending Counselor (CCRC) class because, although the latter may conduct investigations, investigation activities are performed to assist in mediating disputes or provide counseling, which is the CCRC's primary duty.
The following duties are normal for this position. The omission of specific statements of the duties does not exclude them from the classification if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment for this classification. Other duties may be required and assigned.
- Conducts personal interviews with and evaluates individuals involved in matters before the court. Some interviews require home visits to assess health and living conditions
- Reviews filings in court divisions for protective or restraining orders, or other safety issues for any relevant party. Review custody and visitation orders in family law cases and notify the probate judge in guardianship matters when appropriate
- Analyzes data, interprets directions, procedures, and regulations, and develops appropriate comprehensive and factual responses; prepares memos and reports to the court, along with written or verbal recommendations; prepares orders appointing Guardianship and Letters of Guardianship
- Assists parties in probate and conservatorship cases, explaining legal rights and scope of services; inform parties of laws, regulations, and procedures of the court
- Examines financial accounts filed by guardians and conservators to ensure that estates are properly managed and that investments are in compliance with the law
- Acts as liaison between the court and relevant agencies related to investigations
- Appears in court to provide details of investigations as needed
- Works flexible hours as necessary, and occasionally outside business hours
- Maintains current knowledge and monitors changes to probate law and recommends changes in policy, rules, and procedures required for compliance; executes modifications after approval
- Cooperates with other government agencies, such as Child Protective Services, law enforcement agencies, the Public Defender's office, and the District Attorney's office on a regular basis when working on cases
- May participate in the selection and training of clerical support staff and appraising performance
- Travels off-site using a personal vehicle or arranged transportation to various locations in the county on a regular basis while conducting investigations; some out-of-state travel may be necessary in rare occasions
- Attends training as offered and/or directed
- Other duties as assigned
May assign work and provide guidance to the contracted investigator(s)
As directed, per the Court's needs.
- Bachelor's degree in Psychology, Social Work, or other behavioral science from an accredited four (4) year college or university
- Two (2) years employment experience performing casework and interviews or investigations in a legal, law enforcement, or social service setting
- Five (5) years of responsible work experience in legal/judicial, social work, or another environment which requires handling a caseload pertaining to family, children, the elderly, or mental health issues
Necessary Employment Standards
- Interviewing and investigation methods and procedures
- California court system and thorough knowledge of Probate law and legislation
- Issues of child abuse or abandonment, elder abuse, drugs and alcohol
- Common medical and psychiatric terminology and conditions
- Modern office methods and technology including the use of a personal computer and related software such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, case management systems and scheduling programs
- English Language Arts: correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation
- Organizational and administrative methods and procedures of the Court is desired
- Basic accounting and auditing practices
- Gather and analyze data, evaluate facts and evidence, interpret directions, procedures and regulations, and develop appropriate comprehensive and factual responses
- Understand legal terminology, documents, and procedures related to case evaluation and processing; laws, legal/judicial procedure, and local rules
- Establish and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of Court staff, judicial partners, elective and appointive bodies, and members of the general public; work effectively with and assist individuals of various ages and diverse cultural backgrounds; deal tactfully and courteously with all
- Work independently and prioritize work with excellent organization skills
- Work well under pressure, meeting multiple and sometimes conflicting deadlines. Must be available to work weekends and overtime as directed
- Communicate effectively, both written and oral, in person, over the telephone, and in writing with the public, attorneys, vendors, co-workers, supervisors, managers, and judicial officers
- Maintain confidential information in accordance with legal standards and/or other regulations
- Train, oversee, and evaluate the performance of staff including contracted investigators
- Follow Court Rules and Regulations/Personnel Policies, Safety Procedures, Court Code of Ethics, and Court Harassment Prevention Policy.
- Demonstrate cooperative behavior with co-workers and management.
- Maintain a professional appearance and demeanor as defined in the Court Code of Ethics.
- Successfully complete fingerprinting and Criminal Record Background Check
A valid class C California driver's license may be required. The requirement will be reviewed on a position basis in accordance with ADA regulations.
ESSENTIAL PHYSICAL & MENTAL DEMANDS
Data Utilization: Requires the ability to review, classify, categorize, prioritize, and/or analyze data. Includes exercising discretion in determining data classification, and in referencing such analysis to established standards for the purpose of recognizing actual or probable interactive effects and relationships.
Human Interaction: Requires the ability to apply principles of persuasion and/or influence over others in coordinating activities of a project, program, or designated area of responsibility.
Equipment, Machinery, Tools, and Materials Utilization: Requires the ability to operate, maneuver, and/or control the actions of equipment, machinery, tools, and/or materials used in performing essential functions.
Verbal Aptitude: Requires the ability to utilize a wide variety of reference, descriptive, and/or advisory data, and information.
Mathematical Aptitude: Requires the ability to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; the ability to calculate decimals and percentages; the ability to utilize principles of fractions; and the ability to interpret graphs.
Functional Reasoning: Requires the ability to apply principles of influence systems, such as motivation, incentive, and leadership, and to exercise independent judgment to apply facts and principles for developing approaches and techniques to resolve problems.
Situational Reasoning: Requires the ability to exercise judgment, decisiveness, and creativity in situations involving the evaluation of information against sensory, judgmental, or subjective criteria, as opposed to that which is clearly measurable or verifiable.
- Strength, dexterity, coordination, and vision to use a keyboard, computer monitor, and other office equipment on a daily basis and for extended periods of time
- Fine finger manipulations, dexterity, and coordination to handle files and single pieces of paper
- Forceful and repetitive gripping, grasping, and pinching
- Occasional lifting and carrying of objects weighing up to 20 lbs.
- Frequent reaching for items on shelves, above, at, and below desk/shoulder level
- Exert up to 20 lbs. of force occasionally, and/or up-to 10 lbs. of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly to move, torque, twist, push and pull objects
- Frequently sit for extended periods; frequently stand for extended periods; and frequently walk, move, bend, stoop, lift, and stretch
- Able to move to different locations such as, but not limited to: courtrooms, clerk's office, various departments, other court facilities, and desk assignments based on the operational needs of the Court
- Able to traverse inside and outside over uneven ground and pavement
- Perform repetitive writing, typing, copying
- Employees are regularly required to verbally communicate both in person and by telephone
- Corrected hearing and vision to normal range
Sensory Requirements: Some tasks require the ability to perceive and discriminate colors or shades of colors, sounds, and visual cues or signals. Some tasks require the ability to communicate orally.
Environmental Factors: Essential functions are regularly performed without exposure to adverse environmental conditions.