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COURT: Alameda County Superior APPOINTED: Elevated in 1998, through trial court unification DATE OF BIRTH: Dec. 6, 1946 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Municipal court judge, Livermore-Pleasanton-Dublin judicial district. Appointed in 1994 by Wilson. Court commissioner, Livermore-Pleasanton-Dub�lin judicial district. Appointed in 1984. Pleasanton may have that small-town feel, but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Hugh Walker doesn’t like it when attorneys appear to be too cozy with court staff. “I don’t like the appearance that people have special access because of how often they appear here,” the judge said, adding that’s one of the habits many attorneys have picked up in the past, when the court was run more casually. Things have changed since the 1980s, when the facility was in Livermore. Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton are no longer sleepy bedroom communities, and the old Livermore courthouse moved to Pleasanton, where four judges and three commissioners now preside. In fact, some of the informal customs at the Gale/Schenone Hall of Justice were put under a microscope last week when the Commission on Judicial Performance held hearings to air misconduct allegations against another Pleasanton judge, D. Ronald Hyde. The 59-year-old jurist has been lauded for being a big-hearted pillar of the community and denounced for favoring friends when they end up in court. During the four-day hearing, Walker, as well as public defenders, prosecutors and court staff, testified. In Pleasanton, Walker presides over the courthouse’s master criminal calendar and does some civil casework. Attorneys say Walker, who is the only openly gay person on the Alameda County bench, is a frank, good-humored judge. Assistant Public Defender Leonard Ulfelder said Walker is fair, but said many of the courthouse’s judges come down hard on the type of criminal offenses that in other places, like Oakland, might not even be charged. That list includes 647(f) — being drunk in public — or pushing a spouse. Although Judge Walker tends to follow the bail schedule, in general, Pleasanton judges set bail higher than judges who preside in bigger Alameda County cities, attorneys say. That applies particularly to drug and domestic-violence cases. Glen Duren, a prosecutor who often appears in Walker’s courtroom, said defense attorneys wish there was more uniformity throughout the Alameda County courthouses. “There are proponents who think that everything should be the same,” said Duren, a prosecutor who appears often in Walker’s courtroom. “The [county's] jurisdictions are different,” Duren said. Walker said he understands why the Pleasanton bench’s philosophy about cases frustrates defense lawyers, but it reflects the view of the community. “Here, we don’t get a lot of crime,” Walker said, adding that the culture is different in bigger cities. And, Walker said, he gives some crimes — such as domestic violence and reckless driving — greater scrutiny when he is on the bench. “People driving recklessly can be more dangerous than someone driving under the influence,” he said. Although Walker is a more conservative judge than others they encounter, Duren and Ulfelder say he is warm and extremely affable. During a recent court session, Walker dispensed both humor and stern warnings. Two civil attorneys who appeared during a brief case management conference told the judge they could not see eye to eye. “So you tried the arbitrator and where did you end up?” Walker asked. “About 180 degrees from where I see the case,” one lawyer replied. “Well maybe you should clean your glasses,” the judge said with a laugh. Later, during a criminal calendar, the judge was unsympathetic to a man who had been sought on a warrant for a year, but who had turned himself in so that he could pay the fines he owed and clear up his record. The public defender wanted to allow the man to post bail. “Do you think that he will walk out of here after he’s been out on a warrant for a year?” the judge asked. “He hasn’t paid a thing, so why should I care?” Walker was appointed to the municipal court bench in 1994 and was elevated during trial court unification. Before Walker took up the muni gavel he was already a bench veteran, having been a court commissioner for nearly 10 years. Before that, he was a private practitioner for 12 years. “I love my job,” Walker said. “I am blessed to have it.” 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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