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The Santa Clara Superior Court bench elected Judge Thomas Hansen as its next leader Friday but had to dig to fill the No. 2 position. Judge Alden Danner agreed to take the assistant presiding judge spot after Judges Hugh Mullin III and William Martin passed on the job. The Santa Clara court selects its PJ and assistant PJs based on seniority. Danner, Mullin and Martin were all appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian on March 28, 1989. Mullin and Martin said they declined the administrative position, but wouldn’t say why. Danner is on vacation this week and wasn’t available for comment. Assistant PJs serve for two years while still handling cases and then take over as presiding judge full time for an additional two years. Judges say it’s not uncommon to pass on administrative positions, especially because of unification and issues regarding state court trial funding, which has made the work more demanding. Retired Judges Thomas Hastings and Frank Cliff have passed in previous years. Both Mullin and Martin would be eligible for retirement prior to the completion of their PJ term, said Judge Richard Loftus Jr., speculating on why they wouldn’t accept the position. “It’s not a very desirable position,” he said. “You are essentially an administrator for two years and you don’t get to handle cases. But it’s critical to have good leaders.” Hansen has served as assistant presiding judge under Judge Richard Turrone for the past two years and has handled a civil trials assignment. Gov. Deukmejian appointed Hansen to the bench in 1989. Hansen said his first call of duty is to shuffle assignments. “I am looking forward to serving the court in an administrative capacity,” the judge said Monday. “I think Judge Turrone and Judge [Jack] Komar did a terrific job in getting the court in a unified mode.” Hansen will serve as the third PJ since unification. Komar led the court through the process in 1998, and judges say he used the position to make a lot of decisions for the court. Turrone took over in 2000 and looked more to his colleagues. “Komar was exactly the right kind of person for that period of time. Turrone is much more someone who tries to build consensus before he moves ahead. Hansen is much the same,” Loftus said. On Friday, the bench also elected a new executive committee. Judges are divided in tiers based on seniority and each tier receives representation on the committee. New members are Judges Komar, Mullin, Loftus, Raymond Davilla Jr., Thomas Cain, Rodney Stafford, Kenneth Barnum, Erica Yew and Patrick Tondreau.

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