Access to Justice Speakers

Access to Justice Speakers

Hon. Joyce Cram, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Joyce CramJoyce Cram got her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara and her JD at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. Her practice was in civil litigation. After 16 years with her firm, she left to accompany her husband to Europe. She lived for 2 years in Frankfurt Germany, where she was a substitute high school teacher. Upon her return in 1994, she opened a private mediation practice, and in 1998 she was appointed to the bench. During her 13+ year tenure with the court, Judge Cram has handled virtually every assignment, including Misdemeanor and Felony Trials, Criminal Calendar, and Unlimited and Limited Jurisdiction Civil. She is currently handling a family law calendar and presides over Elder Court. Elder Court is a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary court that addresses all cases involving a senior citizen who is the victim of physical, financial or emotional abuse. It was awarded the prestigious Ralph N. Kleps Award for innovation in the courts. The Elder Court model developed by Judge Cram and the Contra Costa County Superior Court is spreading throughout the state and nationwide. Judge Cram teaches other judges in such topics as Ethics and Fairness, Probate Conservatorships and Elder Abuse. She is a member of the American Inns of Court, and she teaches continuing legal education to lawyers. She loves gardening, cooking and hiking and is a volunteer at the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital.

Prescott Cole, Esq.


Prescott Cole has been a staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) for the past eighteen years. In his role as Senior Staff Attorney at CANHR, Mr. Cole counsels consumers and family members who have questions about elder law and long term care. He assists in the development and implementation of CANHR’s various training programs and provides continuing education to law enforcement agencies, legal services programs, private bar attorneys, long term care ombudsman, and consumers. He received the 2003 Alumnus of the Year award from John F. Kennedy University Law School, has testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging about financial elder abuse, and received the 2010 Elder Law Attorney of the Year Award from California Lawyer Magazine. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown has appointed CANHR Senior Staff Attorney Prescott Cole to the California Professional Fiduciaries Advisory Committee. Prescott Cole has written several successful pieces of legislation and is a passionate advocate for senior consumer protections.

Steven Riess, Attorney


Steven Riess is a San Francisco attorney whose practice is limited to representing elders in financial abuse matters, with a particular emphasis on abusive annuity sales. In 2007, he wrote Senate Bill 611, which extended the provisional remedy of attachment to victims of elder financial abuse. In 2008, he proposed and drafted Senate Bill 1140, a major revision of the financial abuse statutes, which expanded the reach of financial abuse so that its remedies are available to those exploited through undue influence or who lack capacity. He also wrote Senate Bill 1136, which revised the Consumers Legal Remedies Act to include exploitative sales of Medi-Cal pre-qualifications services. He was awarded the 2009 Sentinel Award for lifetime achievement by the Elder Financial Protection Network. He has taught at various law schools in California and in Germany and spent a year as a visiting scholar at Boalt Hall. He is the author of several law textbooks, one of which has been published in Germany and a second as a bilingual text in the People’s Republic of China.

Shawna Reeves, MSW

Shawna-Reeves-150x150.jpgShawna Reeves is an elder financial abuse expert and on-call social worker at SteppingStone Adult Day Healthcare in San Francisco. Previously, she was long term care advocate at California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and director of financial education and advocacy at Council on Aging Silicon Valley. For the past eight years, Shawna has helped seniors fight back against financial predators. She has presented on predatory lending and investment scams throughout the country and engaged in legislative advocacy at the local, state and national levels. Shawna lead-authored an article on financial abuse prevention strategies that appeared in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, co-authored “Examining Faulty Foundations in Today’s Reverse Mortgages” with Consumers Union and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, and was featured in a Journal of Progressive Human Services article titled “Social Work in the Campaign Against Predatory Consumer Financing: An Interview with Shawna Reeves.” Shawna’s current interests include blocking financial predators from senior centers and working with traditional and alternative media to raise awareness of elder financial abuse. Shawna taught social welfare policy analysis at San Jose State University’s Master of Social Work Program and currently advises social work students at Smith College. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University and her master’s degree in social work from Smith College. Shawna received the Service Recognition Award at the Legal Assistance for Seniors Annual Elder Abuse Conference in 2010.