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COURT:First District Court of Appeal APPOINTED:Jan. 25, 2002 DATE OF BIRTH:March 16, 1952 LAW SCHOOL:Southwestern University School of Law PRIOR JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE:Alameda County Superior Court and Alameda County Municipal Court Arguing before San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal recently, a defense lawyer trying to get a teen-age boy off a second-degree murder charge began belittling the evidence used for the conviction. There was a “paucity” of evidence, he urged, resting mostly on confessions his frightened young client and an accomplice gave police soon after their arrest. Justice Sandra Margulies quickly spoke up. “Confessions,” she reminded the lawyer, “in which they both admitted they went into the business with the purpose of committing a robbery!” Properly chastened, the lawyer went on, only to be stopped moments later when he indicated that his client, who didn’t wield the gun in the 1997 shooting death of an Oakland furniture store owner, had not committed murder. “What crime was committed,” Margulies interjected, “if not murder?” So it went with every lawyer who appeared that day. They were peppered with questions — a good deal of them from Margulies. Fellow justices and attorneys who appear before Margulies, who joined the appellate court only 14 months ago, say she comes to the bench well prepared and isn’t afraid to mix it up a little. But Margulies, deflecting the attention, says that’s true of all four justices in Division One. “None of us,” she says, “are exactly shrinking violets.” Margulies, who turns 51 on Sunday, has hit the ground running in her new job. The youthful-looking justice, who walks as much as 20 miles a week “at a fast pace,” has authored more than 60 opinions, and earned the respect of her fellow justices. “She brings an enthusiasm to her job,” says James Marchiano, the presiding justice of Division One. “She’s in early, works well with everyone and has a very good rapport with the staff. She knows how to work with people. You can tell she’s been a judge for many years.” Going on 18 years, to be exact. Republican Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Margulies, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, to the Alameda County Municipal Court in 1985. She later was elevated to the superior court, handling everything from probate to law and motion, before being appointed to the First District last year by Gov. Gray Davis. Born in Oakland, Margulies graduated from Los Angeles’ Southwestern University School of Law in 1977, then returned home to join the Alameda County district attorney’s office, where she worked for eight years. “I sort of fell into it,” Margulies says. “I didn’t go into law school with the idea ‘I’m going to be a deputy DA.’” And being a judge, she says, was “the furthest thing” from her mind. Carol Corrigan, a justice on the First District’s Division Three who’s known Margulies since the mid-’70s, calls Margulies “a quiet force.” “She’s not a person who goes out of the way to draw attention to herself,” Corrigan says. “You can always count on her for a well-reasoned, solidly grounded opinion.” She and Margulies are currently working on a task force, charged with the duty of turning everyday jury instructions into plain English without lessening their legal accuracy. “It’s been a very challenging task,” Margulies says. Friendly, alert and direct even at 8:30 on a Monday morning, Margulies says she’s made the jump to the appeal court with no regrets. She occasionally misses the “hustle and bustle” of the trial courts, but finds great satisfaction in her new world. “I’m very busy here,” she says, “but it’s a more tranquil existence. It’s a lot of reading, researching and writing.” When on the bench, Margulies expects lawyers to be organized, address the salient points and “answer the questions the justices ask them.” While she’s cranked out more than three-score rulings, only two were published. “My feeling is that a case should be published if it’s an issue of first impression, if it’s an issue that has application to a significant number of cases,” Margulies says. “I don’t believe in publishing for the sake of publishing.” Margulies’ published cases are Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 99 Cal.App.4th 780, and Hackett v. John Crane Inc., 98 Cal.App.4th 1233. In Kanter , the court threw out a suit challenging the labeling on lice-treatment drugs, saying that federal law pre-empted the claims. In Hackett it affirmed, but modified, a monetary judgment for a man’s injuries for exposure to asbestos during his work career. Both were denied review by the California Supreme Court. The arguments made an impression on Hassard Bonnington partner Philip Ward, who represented the defendant in Hackett . “It was a very spirited exchange,” he recalls. “Justice Margulies was very well prepared and participated to a considerable degree in the argument. I thought that she and the other justices sort of whacked the heck out of both sides.” Margulies lucked out when she arrived at the court. Her office, previously occupied by Justice Gary Strankman, is the old office used by the state’s governors while in San Francisco. “She’s the only justice here in Northern California with her own bathtub and shower,” Justice Marchiano says. Her south wall is lined with photos of her family, including husband Bart Schenone, a probate lawyer with Hayward’s Schenone & Peck, and her 14-year-old son Ben, outfitted in his uniform as the center of Piedmont High School’s football team. Friends say Margulies never misses one of Ben’s games and that she adores Notre Dame football. She also confesses a love of basketball at UCLA, her undergrad alma mater. But friends say she’s being modest about her UCLA sports knowledge. “She’s probably one of the few new justices who can name all of the UCLA basketball coaches,” Marchiano says, “from John Wooden in the 1960s all the way up to the present time with Steve Lavin. She’s a great sports fan.” Says Margulies: “We watch our share of ESPN.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.therecorder.com/profiles.htmlor by calling 415-749-5523.

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