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Alameda County Superior Court Judge D. Ronald Hyde has spearheaded life-changing programs and reached out to criminal defendants, according to attorneys and community members who testified on his behalf Wednesday. “I think that students see him as a pillar of the community,” said Stephen Maher, a middle school principal in Pleasanton. For years, Hyde volunteered his time to talk to students about the court system and invited classes to the courthouse, Maher said. On Wednesday, Hyde’s attorneys began presenting their defense for the Pleasanton judge who is accused of seven counts of misconduct. The judge of 20 years could be kicked off the bench by the Commission on Judicial Performance. The findings of a panel of special masters, which is hearing the testimony, will influence what — if anything — should happen to the judge. One of the things the judge is accused of is giving preferential treatment to friends or acquaintances. But Hyde and his attorneys say the judge has forged many community ties and has a wide circle of contacts. In addition, Hyde points to what he says are relaxed court procedures at the Pleasanton courthouse. The CJP has misinterpreted that casual atmosphere for misconduct, Hyde’s attorneys argue. At Wednesday’s hearing Hayward attorney Lynn Gorelick testified that Hyde “healed” her client Eddie Streeter’s family after Streeter was charged with striking his son. The CJP has alleged that Hyde attempted to end Streeter’s probation without first notifying Gorelick or the prosecutor. Hyde and his attorney say that incident was a misunderstanding. Another judge verbally ended the defendant’s probation and Hyde, who had taken a personal interest in Streeter, took it upon himself to follow up with paperwork to finalize it, the CJP says. In court, Gorelick said that Hyde thought “out of the box” once he learned that Streeter’s child was a youth with behavior problems. Hyde ordered that Streeter undergo anger management and told the family to attend special sessions that turned their lives around, the attorney said. Another witness testified that Hyde established a biannual court session that helps homeless veterans clear up infractions and warrants. Many veterans don’t get services they need because they fear they will be arrested on outstanding warrants, testified Gerald Yahiro, the organizer for East Bay Stand Down, an event that includes the special court session. Other witnesses told the special masters that Hyde started a diversion program for first-time theft defendants and runs one of two restitution calendars in Alameda County. The hearings before the CJP special masters’ panel, which are expected to last all week, brought many figures from Pleasanton’s Gale/Schenone Hall of Justice to the witness stand. They include Judge Hugh Walker, Assistant Public Defender Raymond Keller, prosecutors Glen Duren and Martin Brown, and members of the administrative staff. On Wednesday, attorneys who represent the Commission on Judicial Performance wound up their case. Keller testified about an incident in which Hyde is accused of asking Walker to back him up on a bail ruling. Hyde allegedly made the request after he was disqualified from a case and it was transferred to Walker. According to earlier testimony, Hyde had raised a defendant’s bail from $60,000 to $350,000 in a drug case. Keller, the public defender, filed a peremptory challenge that surprised and angered the judge. Keller testified that he walked into Walker’s courtroom after he filed the challenge and saw Walker on the telephone. “I asked him who was on the phone. I suspected that it was Hyde,” Keller testified, adding that Walker “said words to the effect of ‘none of your business.’” Keller said that a few minutes later Walker — whom he described as “defensive” — acknowledged that Hyde had called him about the case. Walker offered to recuse himself, but Keller said he decided against that because he thought the judge would now “bend over backwards” to be fair to his client. Walker eventually lowered the defendant’s bail back to $60,000, Keller said. Keller added that Hyde apologized for the call. “He made a rather profuse apology for what happened in the . . . case,” Keller said. “He said that he was really sorry that it happened.” Also on Wednesday, a clerk testified about an incident in which Hyde escorted a domestic violence victim through the process of getting a fee waiver for her divorce, even though he was presiding over her husband’s criminal case at the same time. Hyde didn’t immediately recuse himself after he became personally involved, the CJP says. The judge’s intervention helped the woman get the fee waiver in about an hour instead of 24 hours, the clerk said. In earlier testimony, Hyde downplayed his involvement. The judge said that he got involved because the woman’s husband was an inmate who had to be served with divorce papers before he was transported back to the county jail that day.

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