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Born: July 11, 1950 Appointed: Aug. 31, 1989, by Deukmejian Previous work of note: Santa Clara County Superior Court, 1988-89, Santa Clara Municipal Court, 1985-88, Orange County Municipal Court, 1983-85 Law degree: Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (1977) Thomas Fellows remembers appearing before Sixth District Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian seven or eight years ago in a complex case with a massive record and multiple parties. One of the issues Fellows was arguing was that his client had not received adequate notice of a piece of litigation. “I hardly got my first word out,” the appellate partner with San Jose’s Robinson & Wood recalls, “and she said, ‘Mr. Fellows, how can you say your client got no notice of this litigation when in exhibit 41,012 it says right here that she did?’^” “It was an exhibit nobody called any attention to,” Fellows adds. “She dug it up on her own somehow.” Although it did not turn out to be a pivotal exhibit, the anecdote nonetheless illustrates several of Bamattre-Manoukian’s qualities, including her meticulousness and penchant for getting right to the point. She does it in a nice way, appellate attorneys say, but she often asks questions that cut to the weaknesses of a case. “She’s usually very active in oral argument,” says appellate attorney Gerald Marer, who practices in Palo Alto. “She’ll ask pointed questions. That’s good, because it lets the lawyers know what’s on her mind.” But often what’s on her mind is not good news for a criminal appellant. Criminal defense attorneys say Bamattre-Manoukian is too tough on their clients. “She’s way more on top of what’s going than almost anybody else there,” said Michael Kresser, executive director of the Sixth District Appellate Program, which handles indigent appeals. “But to me, being a judge means being impartial. That means being able to see merit in legal arguments no matter what side they are coming from. That’s what she’s lacking.” But Bamattre-Manoukian says her decisions are not driven by ideology, but by strict standards of review. “If you are asking us to reverse the trial court, think about how an opinion would read,” she advises lawyers. “Basically we decide the issues before us,” she says. “We are not deciding the case as though we were a trial judge.” Still, Manoukian’s ties to the right run deep. She worked for George Deukmejian’s gubernatorial campaign while in law school. She joined the Orange County district attorney’s office, and Deukmejian named her to the Orange County municipal court in 1983, at the ripe old age of 33. Bamattre-Manoukian resigned her position on the Orange County bench to move to Santa Clara County two years later. In a move that caused some grumblings in Santa Clara County, the governor quickly reassigned her to municipal court there. Bamattre-Manoukian’s star continued to rise quickly. She was elevated in 1989 to the court of appeal. Then, in 1994, she was one of six candidates reviewed by the State Bar for California Supreme Court Justice Edward Panelli’s seat. That spot ultimately went to Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. On the bench, Bamattre-Manoukian is sometimes more conservative than her colleagues. For example, she dissented from a recent opinion holding that a requirement that a man convicted of statutory rape register as a sex offender violates equal protection laws. But for the most part, Bamattre-Manoukian fits in with the temperament of her court, says Fellows. “It is not a very adventurous court,” said Fellows. “They don’t like making new law. They are going to decide the case on the narrowest possible grounds.” “She is not flamboyant, she does not make grand, sweeping statements,” Fellows adds. “She is very matter-of-fact, detail oriented and careful.”

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