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COURT: Santa Clara Superior APPOINTED: July 27, 1998, by Gov. Wilson DATE OF BIRTH: Aug. 14, 1945 LAW SCHOOL: University of Michigan Law School, 1972 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: none Judge Richard Loftus Jr. doesn’t like to sit idle, nor is he one for chitchat. Attorneys agree that the Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, who moved from family court to the Hall of Justice a year and a half ago, works fast and likes to keep his calendar full. “The man’s certainly not lazy,” said Deputy DA David Boyd. “He is interested in trying cases and getting some work done. When he gets a case he wants to try it. He is not waiting a couple of days.” But defense attorneys say the prosecutor’s office has already caught Loftus’ ear. “Most of the time he does seem to have a fair grasp of the law,” said one defense attorney. “But when it comes to ruling and sentencing, he tends to be very conservative. His rulings favor the prosecution more often than not.” Defense attorneys point to a July 2002 case where Loftus — going against the recommendations of a court-approved psychologist and a probation officer — sentenced former Santa Clara sheriff’s deputy Armand Tiano to 16 months in prison for failing to update his sex offender registry. But prosecutors say Loftus just knows better than to buy many of the old arguments defense attorneys roll out for virtually every case. “There are some judges who will give the benefit of the doubt for the 20th time,” said Boyd, who tried a robbery case in Loftus’ courtroom. “Judge Loftus is not someone to give the benefit of the doubt the second or third time.” But Boyd said that toughness shouldn’t be mistaken for a prosecution bias. “His rulings are not result-driven. They are decisions based on the law that applies to the set of facts,” he said. “It would be improper to rush to judgment if he is a prosecutor’s judge or a defense attorney judge.” In fact, during the same month that Tiano was sentenced, Loftus ignored prosecutors’ pleas for prison time when he sentenced a woman to nine months in jail for punching, biting and hurling racial slurs at a man of Middle Eastern descent who was stopped in traffic. Alternate Deputy Public Defender Steven Bermudez said Loftus isn’t pro-prosecution. Rather he’s very by-the-book. Bermudez tried a Three Strikes case in front of Loftus and lost on a Romeromotion to strike a strike. His client was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. “While I think he was sympathetic with my client, he thought my client had violated the law and he needed to be punished,” Bermudez said. “You are not going to get much leeway in terms of mitigation.” Loftus won’t talk specifics about his cases. But he says he came into the criminal assignment with no experience as a prosecutor or a criminal defense attorney. “There’s an advantage to that. You come in with no predispositions,” Loftus said. The Wilson appointee said that after spending three years in family court he likes working with juries and, so far, he’s pleased with the level of lawyering. During his five years on the bench, he has served as supervising judge of the family court and now sits on the executive committee chaired by Presiding Judge Thomas Hansen. “It’s my own inherent curiosity. I want to understand how things work,” Loftus said. Deputy DA Clarissa Hamilton tried a three-week trial in front of Loftus where the defendant, who was facing his third strike, was sentenced to life in prison for exploding a propane tank in his house in an attempt to injury his family. Hamilton said that during pretrial motions, Loftus made it clear he wanted attorneys to put their thoughts on paper. “He expects written motions and he definitely reads and researches everything,” Hamilton said, noting the judge’s civil background. “He moves things,” Hamilton said. “He’s very formal, and he’s very good.” And, she added, Loftus isn’t one for high drama. “He comes out. He listens and he rules.” She and other attorneys said Loftus is also brief and to the point when he addresses jurors and defendants. “He’ll give his reasons for the sentence — but it’s not like he is giving a lecture to the defendant or an inspirational speech,” she said. But prosecutors aren’t complaining. “That’s fine,” said Boyd. “Some judges take it upon themselves to do a standup act in front of the jury. That’s not Judge Loftus.” 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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