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A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, will be Contra Costa County’s newest judge. On Tuesday, Gov. Gray Davis appointed Walnut Creek civil attorney Barry Baskin to the bench. Before he immigrated to the United States in 1987, Baskin was managing partner at a now-defunct firm that was started by his grandfather, Baskin & Partners. He has been at Walnut Creek’s Farrow, Bramson, Baskin & Plutzik since 1989. The 49-year-old lawyer, who was heading for a flight to Slovakia on Tuesday, said that he was thrilled by the news. “It was a great gift out the door,” Baskin said. “I feel that it’s time for me to serve the public in a broader way.” Baskin specializes in complex civil litigation such as class actions, antitrust and employment disputes. He serves as a judge pro tem for the county in small claims and criminal cases. Also, Baskin serves as mediator, arbitrator and discovery referee for the court. Last year, court watchers said that Baskin’s name was on a list of candidates who had applied for judicial appointments in the suburban county. At the time the others were: county prosecutor Douglass MacMaster, Deputy Public Defender Lesli Caldwell, Walnut Creek attorney William Manning and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kennedy. Only Kennedy and Baskin have been appointed. Baskin, who expects to be sworn into office in September, fills the vacancy left when former Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Maria Rivera was elevated to the First District Court of Appeal. He will earn $139,476 a year.

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