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COURT:Santa Clara Superior APPOINTED:June 4, 2002, by Gov. Gray Davis DATE OF BIRTH:May 1, 1934 LAW SCHOOL:Boalt Hall School of Law PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE:Santa Clara Superior Court 1977-79; First District Court of Appeal 1979-2000 The last two judges to handle the law and motion and probation violation calendars at Santa Clara County Superior Court felt the brunt of the assignment’s contentious nature. Defense attorneys papered Judge Kevin Murphy for alleged bias and complained that Judge Leon Fox Jr.’s decisions were peppered with pro-prosecution sentiments. In that courtroom, attorneys often use their precious peremptory challenges on what they consider make-or-break decisions for their cases. So for prosecutors and defense attorneys to finally agree on Judge Marcel Poch� is no small thing. Both sides call the former First District Court of Appeal justice deliberate and thorough. Attorneys describe Poch� as a “gentleman jurist” who knows the law and whose even temper plays well. “Judge Poch� is a great judge,” said Deputy Public Defender Thompson Sharkey, who now handles the probation violation calendar. “He gives defendants a break when they deserve it, but he also sends a lot of people to prison.” “We’ve had nothing but positive experience with Judge Poch�. He allows you time to make your argument. He reads your points and authorities before he takes the bench,” said Deputy District Attorney Joseph Thibodeaux, who supervises law and motion. Thibodeaux said that Poch� handles the assignment well, and that even if Poch� appears skeptical, attorneys feel like he’s still listening. “Poch� will listen to what you have to say and see if you can persuade him,” Thibodeaux said. “Sometimes Judge Fox’s manner of responding to the parties wasn’t as even-keeled. We’ve lost some in front of Poch� we think we should have won, but we feel like we’ve got a fair hearing there.” Thibodeaux said the DA’s office has yet to file a petition with the Sixth District Court of Appeal challenging one of Poch�’s rulings. And while Poch�, a relative rookie to the trial bench, has been dinged for being slow and very formal, attorneys say after five months on the high-volume calendar he’s now keeping a steady pace. “When I compare him to other judges who have handled that calendar, Judge Poch� does real well,” Thibodeaux said. “We’ve had judges who will spend all morning on one motion and then continue everything so one day you have 50 items on the calendar.” Poch� spent nearly 22 years on the First District bench before retiring in 2000. He returned to the bench in 2002 with his appointment to the superior court. He handled misdemeanors his first year back, and admits it took a while to get back in the groove. “The kind thing to say was that I was rusty on those procedures,” Poch� said. But now, he said, his pacing is deliberate. “I want to get it right.” Poch� explained. “It is really unimportant if the calendar ends at noon. What is important is that we understand the case and my staff gets its breaks.” Poch� said decisions about whether to give someone a second chance — and thus pose a possible risk to the community — or send the defendant back to prison weigh heavily on him. Deputy DA Kathryn Storton said it shows. “He knows the law and cares about the case. He does an excellent job,” said Storton, who handles violation of probation hearings. “It’s not the kind of assignment most judges will seek out. It’s nice to have someone on the calendar that enjoys it and will put the time into it.” That doesn’t mean Storton always walks away satisfied. “I definitely don’t get the sentence I want in every case, and that would be too much to expect,” Storton said. “He is very receptive to our conditions. On the whole we are very satisfied with the sentences being given out. I hope he wants more than a one-year tour of duty.” 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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