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Court: Santa Clara Superior Appointed: Nov. 28, 1990 by Gov. Deukmejian Date of Birth: Oct. 10, 1947 Law School: Harvard Other judicial experience: none When an ambitious deputy DA challenged Judge Gregory Ward for his seat on the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench in 1998, the incumbent acknowledged he could be a bit “kinder and gentler.” So has Ward, who easily won reelection, kept his campaign promise? It depends on whom you ask. On the 2001 Santa Clara bar survey, nearly half — or 29 out of 59 attorneys — said Ward’s judicial temperament either needed improvement or was unsatisfactory. The rest, 24 attorneys, ranked his temperament as excellent or very good. Ward received mixed marks across the board on other categories including knowledge of the law and impartiality. “He is very short-tempered,” said one San Jose attorney. “His judicial temperament is truly an issue. He is a smart guy but he still has all the issues the bar has observed for some years.” But others say he’s smart and methodical and like other good judges just doesn’t have a lot of patience for loafers. “He’s very systematic, very detail-oriented. He reads papers you submit, listens to arguments carefully, asks the right questions. He is one of the best judges we have in Santa Clara County,” said Giacomo Russo of Palo Alto’s Russo & Hale. “He is definitely willing to spend the time to fully understand the facts. These days it’s very difficult when judges get under so much time pressure. He is certainly willing to spend the time that’s needed and does his homework and takes it seriously.” James McManis of San Jose’s McManis, Faulkner & Morgan said Ward’s “Quote unquote personality problem is he expects lawyers to act like lawyers — expecting such preposterous things as being on time and prepared, answering the court’s questions and doing their jobs without a lot of pyrotechnics. “It’s a shame he fails the personality test with bar junkies. He’s very thoughtful. He is very businesslike. He is a good lawyer. He has great credentials.” Ward says he’s well aware of his reputation — and while he characterizes himself as a “nice guy,” he agrees he’s not afraid to take care of business, especially when he was a civil case manager and needed to push cases along. “I try not to overreact but I do take the job pretty seriously and I take the whole practice of law pretty seriously, and if people get out of line they need to be told that,” Ward said. “I know under certain circumstances I can get pretty irritated by attorneys who are not doing what they should be doing. Some people think it’s too tough and some might think it’s appropriate � But you get on someone’s case and you make an enemy.” Ward started his career as a U.S. attorney, trying cases in Puerto Rico and later becoming the first bureau chief in the San Jose office. Ward went into private practice before being appointed to the superior court in 1990. Ward spent nearly a decade handling criminal matters before accepting a civil case management assignment in 2000. Ward switched to civil trials in 2002. Russo described Ward as detail-oriented and methodical, often taking time to edit and fashion jury instructions as opposed to signing off on what attorneys propose. “He is kind of willing to do more of the work that other judges say is not their job,” Russo said. “He is more willing to be detailed in what he wants procedurally. He is less willing to entertain motions on the fly. There is more expectation you will be writing brief items and submitting them.” Ward acknowledges he likes to read cases before oral arguments. “There is something to having someone put authorities on paper for their position,” he said. “Many attorneys who are litigators are good talkers. They know how to present and advocate a position. But if you don’t give me a case it’s hard for me to conclude what the law is.” Russo said Ward’s system makes things predictable but can inject some delays. “There’s a trade-off when you are systematic and methodical. You accept that your engine is idling for a while and your jury is idling for a while.” But others say Ward keeps things moving. “He tended to rule from the bench, which is nice. I enjoy interacting with the judge, and I think we always got it with Ward,” McManis said. You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.therecorder.com/profiles.html or by calling 415-749-5523.

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