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Court: Santa Clara Superior Court Appointed:June 17, 1985, by Gov. Deukmejian Date of Birth:June 9, 1937 Previous Judicial Experience:None Law Degree: Hastings College of Law 1965 When Judge Jack Komar served as presiding judge in the late 1990s, the Santa Clara County jurist — known as a smart and capable trial judge — was thrown to the front line to put out several political controversies smoldering in the courts. As presiding judge, Komar would help merge the municipal and superior courts, chip away at a backlogged criminal calendar that made front-page news when some judges were accused of golfing on Fridays and defuse daily protests in front of the family court where angry parents accused judges and lawyers of nepotism. On top of that, Komar faced trouble at home, when three teens fire-bombed his house because they mistakenly identified the judge as Jewish. Komar is Roman Catholic. A year and half after completing his two-year term as presiding judge, Komar, unshaken, is back on the bench handling civil trials. In January, Komar took over Santa Clara’s complex litigation calendar after Judge Conrad Rushing was elevated to the Sixth District Court of Appeal. In November, Komar presided over a highly publicized trial where a Silicon Valley firm sued two former employees for libeling the company in Internet chat rooms. Attorneys say the marriage of Komar’s sharp trial skills and his administrative savvy make him a good choice for arguably one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile and challenging calendars. The calendar — comprising class actions, shareholder litigation, trade secrets and other high-tech disputes — could also prove a stepping stone for Komar, who acknowledges that he has applied for a seat on the Sixth District. Komar would not comment for this article, but attorneys say the judge has shown his mettle. “Judge Komar, during his stint as presiding judge, met with a lot of challenges, including the whole family law situation,” said James Towery, a partner at San Jose’s Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel. “He displayed what a presiding judge should do. He did not ignore challenges. He set out to find solutions. “He is a very good person to replace Conrad Rushing. He’s got a very broad range of experience. He is extraordinarily bright. He is not going to have any difficulty with the challenging legal issues arising on that calendar.” Towery, who has tried two malpractice cases in front of Komar, said the judge likes to keep things formal and makes it clear that counselors need to play by his rules, but rules fairly. “He is not a reticent person,” Towery said. “I think there are other judges who run their courtrooms in a more relaxed fashion.” In Komar’s courtroom, Towery said, “You need to understand the rules and you need to follow those rules. Then he is easy to get along with.” For example, Towery said, counsel quickly learn that during trial Komar does not like chambers conferences but prefers to address most matters in open court. Richard Williams, a partner at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley, said the judge is serious, thoughtful and deliberate. “He is hard-working, bottom-line oriented,” said Williams, who at one time worked with Komar’s son, who is also an attorney. “He’s a no-nonsense judge. I think he will be excellent in dealing with complex litigation matters that arise, such as class actions, complex litigation, complex mass torts.” Komar at times comes across as gruff with counsel. During the Internet libel trial in November, the plaintiff attorney wanted to play portions of a taped deposition for jurors. Komar, impatient with the repeated stopping and starting of the video, insisted that the attorney instead read the portions of the deposition into the record. But attorneys point out that he is less intimidating with jurors. During the same trial, Komar frequently cracked jokes and made lighthearted comments to keep jurors’ attention during the monthlong trial. “He is very attentive to jurors,” Towery said. “To me, that’s a sign of a good judge.”

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