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Mary Morgan, who made history as the first openly lesbian judge in the nation when she was appointed to the San Francisco Municipal Court in the early 1980s, is returning to the bench — though in some ways, the new superior court appointee said she feels like she had never left. Since moving back to San Francisco six years ago after a stint in Washington, D.C., Morgan said, “I’ve been sitting by assignment virtually every single day. “I’m in the middle of a trial,” she explained. “I’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow that I’m doing today.” Morgan was one of four Bay Area judges appointed Thursday by Gov. Gray Davis. Davis also tapped Lawrence Appel for the Alameda County Superior Court, Jill Fannin for the Contra Costa County Superior Court and Joseph Scott for the San Mateo County Superior Court. A graduate of Smith College and the New York University School of Law, Morgan fills the vacancy left by Kevin Ryan, who resigned last year to become the U.S. attorney for Northern California. She was appointed in 1981 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to San Francisco Municipal Court. She retired in 1993. “The only reason I retired when I did was that my family moved to Washington, D.C., to work in the Clinton administration,” she said. “There continue to be important things to do in the criminal justice system, and I would like to be a part of those things.” San Francisco Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens said, “Initially I’ll keep her in the criminal division, where I really need her.” Fannin’s father, Coleman Fannin, is a retired Contra Costa judge. Jill Fannin is a graduate of UC-Berkeley and Hastings College of the Law and works as a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, as does her father. Before joining JAMS in 2000, the younger Fannin was in private practice for 12 years with several firms in San Francisco and Walnut Creek, handling defense work on behalf of insurance carriers and businesses, and litigating consumer class actions, primarily for plaintiffs, according to the governor’s office. Fannin has served as a judge pro tem in small claims cases and as a volunteer arbitrator for the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s fee dispute program. Appel is a solo practitioner whose practice emphasizes complex civil litigation, including unfair trade practices, breach of contract, fraud, defamation, securities and intellectual property disputes. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s College and Hastings College of the Law. He worked with Alioto & Alioto from 1969 to 1985, and was general counsel for a Silicon Valley company from 1999 to 2001. Fannin will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Michael Coleman. Scott, who has his own general law office in Redwood City, was previously a partner in the law firms of Eshoo, Dubois & Scott and Eshoo, Scott & Solomon from 1977 to 1983. A graduate of Brown University and Hastings College of the Law, Scott has served as an arbitrator for San Mateo’s municipal and superior courts since 1983, and as a judge pro tem in traffic and small claims cases since 1991. Scott will fill the vacancy created by Paula Schlichter’s retirement. The judges will earn $139,476 a year, according to the governor’s office. With the appointments, the Alameda and Contra Costa benches are left with two vacancies, the San Francisco court has one and the San Mateo bench has no openings.

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