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Born: April 20, 1950 Appointed: Feb. 25, 1993, by WilsonPrevious work of note: Private law practice, 1978-93 Law degree: Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles (1977) Attorney Richard Bridgman perhaps says it best when he describes Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates Manoukian as a trial attorney who just happens to be a judge.“He has everything I like in a judge,” says Bridgman, of San Francisco’s Bridgman & Bridgman. And after handling nearly 200 trials, Bridgman has seen plenty.Indeed, Manoukian garners praise from several attorneys who describe him as being particularly astute in court: “He is always up to date on the law, especially when it pertains to evidentiary matters,” says Jeffrey Skinner, of S.F.’s Gudmundson, Siggins, Stone & Skinner.For his part, Manoukian says he doesn’t think it’s his role as a judge to induce settlements. Instead, “my job is to try to finish the matter” pending before him. And that means taking steps to prevent trials from getting bogged down. “Things move rather quickly in here,” he says. “I’m proud of that.”He also prefers relatively long daily sessions, which might begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. “The taxpayers are getting their money’s worth in his courtroom,” notes Skinner.As for some practical advice to lawyers who may be showing up in his courtroom, Manoukian keeps it pretty simple: “Put it all in your papers first,” he says. “Don’t repeat yourself — and shorter is better.”Formality is also a must in Manoukian’s presence. “I was schooled 20 years ago by attorneys who had been practicing law since the ’50s,” he says. “They taught me the courtroom is a sacred place.”Manoukian, who is married to Sixth District Court of Appeal Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, practiced civil litigation for 15 years before his appointment to the bench in 1993. He began his career at the Los Angeles firm known at the time as Early, Maslach, Leavey & Nutt. In 1983, he joined the San Jose Law Offices of Burton K. Wines, for whom he had earlier worked as a law clerk.Two years later, Manoukian became Wines’ partner. With a specialty in medical malpractice, he handled a host of insurance cases and a smattering of criminal cases.In 1992, he successfully defended Stanford University Medical Center against a 15-year-old plaintiff in a medical malpractice case.As a judge, Manoukian wins points for displaying a courteous demeanor toward both parties. “He treats everyone in the courtroom equally,” says James Gleason, a deputy public defender in Santa Clara County who supervises felony defenders and used to appear before Manoukian when the jurist was assigned to the criminal calendar.Bridgman recalls being a bit apprehensive about how Manoukian — given his own trial-attorney experience — would deal with an attorney malpractice suit that the S.F. lawyer handled for the plaintiff’s side in 1997.But Bridgman, whose client countersued her erstwhile attorneys after they sued her in a fee dispute and won a $300,000 jury award in the case, says he thought Manoukian was very fair in his rulings during the proceedings.Gleason, meanwhile, recalls being struck by Manoukian’s decision to post the rules of professional conduct outside his courtroom.“You knew that when you entered his courtroom you would be held to a higher standard,” says Gleason.

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