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Born: April 10, 1947Appointed: Feb. 27, 1997, by WilsonPrevious work of note: L.A. Superior Court judge 1992-97 (Wilson). Private civil practice, including seven years at Pettit & Martin, 1973-92.Law degree: Boalt Hall School of Law (1973)Richard Neal is nothing if not succinct. Working in a state court system known for its lengthy opinions, and on a division that has a particular tendency toward windiness, Neal keeps his rulings short and simple.The former English teacher begins each decision with a summary that states the holdings in refreshingly minimalist fashion. “A landlord has no duty of care to assure that his tenant’s children do not fall out of ordinary second story windows. We affirm summary judgment in favor of defendant landlord,” is how Neal opens Pineda v. Ennabe, 61 Cal.App.4th 1403. One of his published opinions numbered only 14 bite-sized paragraphs, and another ran only 11.Unlike many other justices who are given to rhetorical gymnastics, Neal is the master of understatement. Thus begins Los Angeles County Dept. of Children and Family Services v. Superior Court, 63 Cal.App.4th 1299: “This case concerns whether a dependent infant should be returned to the custody of his criminally insane parents, one of whom killed a prior child. Without receiving or weighing expert evidence, and based solely on a caseworker’s summary description of experts’ opinons, the trial court ordered that the parents have unmonitored visits with the child. This order was not supported by a preponderance of evidence, and accordingly was erroneous.”Like his Division Seven colleagues, Neal is on his way to being a prolific publisher, with 16 majority opinions published in his first year-and-a-half on the bench.He is one of the few jurists to publicly list an e-mail address in the California Courts and Judges handbook.Division Seven falls in the middle range of effiency on the Second District, with a median 89 days from briefing to decision in civil appeals, 83 in criminal appeals.POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Gave $500 to Dan Lungren’s gubernatorial campaign in June 1998. Gave $200 to Republican Wilbert Smith’s Assembly campaign in 1996 and $400 to Matt Fong’s campaign for treasurer in the mid-1990s.

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