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Judge David Garcia, a 20-year veteran of San Francisco’s municipal and superior courts, is retiring July 31. He’s mum about his future plans. But his silence could indicate he’s headed for a private alternative dispute resolution firm, given a recent change to the ethical rules for judges. “People can read between the lines all they want, but officially for me it’s no comment,” Garcia said. Of his decision to retire, the 56-year-old judge said, “It seems like a good thing to do, to leave while I’m enjoying myself.” According to the judicial ethics rules, a sitting judge can’t announce he or she is headed for a private ADR firm while on the bench — the judge can only announce a retirement, said retired Judge William Cahill. “When I left, there wasn’t any such thing,” noted Cahill, who now works for ADR provider JAMS. Andrew Bassak, chair of the litigation group at Steefel, Levitt & Weiss, has appeared before Garcia several times and predicts he will be successful if ADR is where he’s headed. “I think he’d be able to very quickly size up cases put in front of him and give the litigants a real sense of what the value of their case is,” Bassak said. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Garcia to the municipal court in 1983. Garcia was elevated to the superior court seven years later by then-Gov. George Deukmejian. According to a 1997 profile in The Recorder, Garcia was known as a smart, scholarly judge. And though he received the poorest marks for courtroom temperament in a Bar Association of San Francisco survey of the bench in the mid-1990s, lawyers told The Recorder in 1997 that his demeanor had mellowed. Though Garcia has presided over misdemeanor, felony, family law and civil matters, he’s shown a particular affinity to law and motion. Garcia’s departure will open up a second seat on the superior court bench, said Gordon Park-Li, the court’s chief executive officer. The CEO said he’s not sure who will take over Department 301 after Garcia leaves.

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