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This election season, The Recorder is giving judicial candidates an opportunity to speak with their own voices. On Feb. 5, The Recorder and the Santa Clara County Bar Association co-sponsored a forum for the four candidates for superior court seat No. 9. They are San Jose solo practitioners Ronald Berki and William Priest, Santa Clara solo Arthur Bocanegra and Deputy District Attorney George Chadwick. Following are excerpts from part 2 of the forum, which was moderated by Recorder Editor in Chief Scott Graham. The second forum — for candidates Ron Del Pozzo, Michael Millen, Aaron Persky and Thomas Spielbauer — will be at 5 p.m. today at the Newton Auditorium at 70 West Hedding St. in San Jose. Recorder: What Judicial Council, State Bar or local bar association committees have you served on? Arthur Bocanegra: None. Committees? None. William Priest: Actually, I’ve served on the vast majority of committees in our county bar. I was president of the county bar two years ago, and I’m still serving the county bar as the chair of the long-range planning committee. On the state level, I’ve served on several different committees: the real property executive committee, the debtor-creditor bankruptcy section executive committee. I currently serve on the state Judicial Council-sponsored committee called the Community-Focused Court Planning Committee, along with a number of our county judges and some private citizen representation. George Chadwick: In the 1980s I was active in the [State] Bar as a member, I believe, of the Conference of Delegates … I authored three resolutions brought before the Conference of Delegates [in 1990] … When I joined the prosecutor’s office I became inactive, for which I have no excuse. There are 200 prosecutors in our office. Twenty-nine members of them are members of the county bar, and most of them are doing that because they’re politically active in some other arena. I joined the county bar in September, because at that time I was considering seeking an appointment two or three years from now with Gov. Davis [if he's] re-elected. Instead this election opportunity came up. I have no excuse for not having participated in the county bar, but I am in very good company with 170 out of the other 200 prosecutors in the office who do not belong, who are not active in bar matters. Ronald Berki: Earlier on in my career I was an active member of the Barristers Club, an arm of the Santa Clara County Bar Association which helps young attorneys bridge the gap, so to speak, between law school and practicing law. And I served as treasurer at that organization as well as a member of the board of directors … During that time I, along with other members of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, and the Los Angeles legal newspaper, we put together a program in Santa Clara County that’s still alive today, which is called Bridging the Gap. One of the things I noticed when I came to practice law in Santa Clara County was that there was a real problem between law school and young attorneys starting out. Because law school, in my estimation, doesn’t teach you how to be a lawyer. Getting out there and doing the work teaches you how to be a lawyer. A lot of people don’t know how to do that, so the Bridging the Gap program … gave practical experience to lawyers, programs, classes and speakers. So that program still exists today. Recorder: Mr. Berki, in your campaign literature you emphasize integrity and work ethic. But how can you quantify that? How can you prove that your integrity and work ethic is superior? Berki: Well, just look at my 22 years of practicing law in the county. I have always been someone who has worked hard for each and every one of my clients. I can’t think of a case in which I haven’t given my full attention and devotion to the client. And I would bring the same kind of dedication to the bench … As far as integrity, I don’t think my integrity can be questioned. You can ask any lawyer I’ve ever worked with, I’m not a game player. I tell it like it is. I don’t lie. I tell the truth when I’m in court, and to my fellow attorneys. And all of them can trust me … Recorder: Is there a specific example or anecdote that you could point to as far as work ethic that would persuade people that you’re going to be putting in extra hours on the bench? Berki: I work in my office every night until 7:30, 8 o’clock on my clients’ issues. And I work weekends, I make sure that I’ve done everything, all the requirements of the time are met … I’m kind of struggling for a specific example here other than I look at my years in practice and I see the kind of mentality and dedication and common sense I bring to the job. All that means to me to be someone of utmost integrity. Recorder: Mr. Bocanegra, you’re trying a capital case right now. If you were on the bench and a jury returned a death verdict that you didn’t necessarily agree with, but it wasn’t really an unreasonable verdict, what would you do? Bocanegra: When you become a judge, you take the oath, and that means following the law. And there are circumstances where a judge could overturn a jury verdict. But based on what you’ve indicated to me, if legally that would have to be imposed, then I think that I would have to follow the law. And I’m not saying it would not be an extremely difficult decision. I think it would be difficult for any human being. Recorder: Mr. Priest, there was some litigation in this race and the last one about your ballot designation as Superior Court attorney. I understand that you do work as an attorney in superior court, but I’m guessing you also do work in federal court and the old muni court as well. So even though that’s a technically true description, isn’t it a little bit misleading to the voters? Priest: No, I don’t think it’s misleading at all. It’s simply a fact: 99 percent of my practice is in our superior court, and has been most of my career. The fact is that that ballot designation has been used by numerous candidates over the years. Prior to my ever having used it Judge Jamie Jacobs-May, for example, was listed as a superior court attorney, when she first ran for the bench. It was challenged by one of my opponents, and the court held that it was not misleading. Recorder: Mr. Chadwick, in a recent interview you described yourself as “the only law enforcement employee in the race.” What is meant by describing yourself that way, and are you suggesting that you would favor the law enforcement side if you were elected judge? Chadwick: No. I have several nice things to say about criminal defense attorneys, and I think that the public has the wrong impression of them, especially the public defender’s office in this county. In the interest of time I’ll skip those but it is part of my answer. But as a prosecutor it is part of my job to make sentencing recommendations to the court in very serious criminal cases. And as someone who works in and with law enforcement, when I take the bench I’m going to be experienced not only on those issues, but I’m also going to be experienced in what police officers do. I’m going to be experienced in how to protect witnesses. I’ll be experienced in how child witnesses come to court, a child victim, because I believe I’m the only candidate that’s represented a victim in a criminal case … And “law enforcement employee” is an awkward way of saying those things – to reflect that as a county employee, as a prosecutor, as someone who works with police officers every day, it’s all combined in that phrase. It’s the best phrase I could think of to capture all those, while still being precisely accurate as to what I do. Recorder: Any closing remarks? Anything you weren’t able to address that you’d like to talk about at this time? Bocanegra: The only thing I’d like to say is just once again mention that I do have 21 years of experience, extensive experience, doing both sides of civil, and both sides of criminal. I’m also, like I said, 48 years old, have a lot of energy, and I’m a very hard worker. And this gives me an opportunity to mention why I’ve not been active in the bar … I was active earlier when I was in the public defender’s office and the city attorney’s office, but once I got into private practice, I didn’t appreciate the amount of work that it takes just running an office, as well as representing the clients. Every minute I have I spend representing my clients, working on their cases, in order to do the best job possible. And I work a lot of hours. And as soon as I’m done I go straight home to my family, because they’re obviously the most important people to me … Recorder: You’ve mentioned twice now that you’re 48 years old and you have a lot of energy. Are you trying to draw a distinction between yourself and the other candidates in that regard? Bocanegra: No, it’s just that I didn’t realize I was 48 until people started asking [laughter]. I feel like I’m 20. The reason I mentioned the energy is because, the newly elected judges, they get high volume calendars. And they don’t go home at 5. They go home at 6 or 6:30. And I know how much work it is to be in court every day. And in order to do a good job, and make sure that no one is not treated fairly, I think it takes a lot of energy. And I have it. Priest: I certainly have by far the most actual judicial experience of any candidate in this race. But the thing I think sets me apart is … my record of community involvement. And most predominant in that history I think has been my involvement with the legal services organizations. I’ve spent a very large amount of my private time over the last number of years supporting these organizations. I engineered the merger of our own Community Legal Services in Santa Clara County with three other major, federally funded legal support groups, to form Bay Area Legal Aid Corp., and I currently serve on the board of that organization… I was a founding board member of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services, which I helped put together as I was coming into the county bar presidency. And I obtained the support of the local bar for that organization, which now gives roughly a half-million dollars each year to seven different legal service organizations in our county. Chadwick: I think Mr. Bocanegra is going to go home and kick himself a little for forgetting to mention something. He has been active, he’s a member of La Raza Lawyers, and I believe he may even have been a board member, and that’s an extremely well-respected organization that’s helping ensure that our bench reflects our community. And he didn’t mention that. He would have if he’d had more time. For me, I’m just going to give sound bites. I’m going to give my endorsements, symbolically, to show that I’m not ignorant, to show that I’m conscientious, to show that I’m willing to learn, and to show that my attitude is that the longer I live, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m endorsed by both the chief executive officer of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce and by the South Bay Labor Council, because I understand the relationship between the health of workers, businesses, the economy, public safety. That understanding is important for a judge to have. I’m the only candidate that’s endorsed both by prosecutors and defense attorneys, to my knowledge, contrary to what you may read in other candidates’ literature. I’m the only candidate endorsed by an entire law firm. And although I’m not diverse, I’m endorsed by a prestigious minority bar association … Berki: I think that I’m an excellent candidate for superior court judge. I’m well rounded. My 22 years’ experience in this county practicing law in both criminal and civil matters gives me the ability to walk into a courtroom, and pick up a file, and do the job that a judge has to do. I think that experience is the one thing that I have that would give me the necessary tools to be the most effective judge that I can possibly be. But I’m also a man that realizes there’s a sensitivity that you have to display as a judge. I have that sensitivity. I have been commended twice by the State Bar of California for delivering outstanding service to the poor, on a pro bono basis. And I routinely over 22 years have given thousands of hours to pro bono projects. So, I’m the kind of attorney that is ready and able to assume the bench and serve all the people of Santa Clara County in an effective, broad-based manner.

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