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Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Iglehart, who held leadership posts with the state attorney general and the Alameda County and San Francisco DA offices, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 60. Iglehart was in Istanbul, Turkey, participating in an institute that helps other nations improve their legal systems. His death stunned the Bay Area legal community, which praised both his jovial nature and legal expertise. “He was a Renaissance man among prosecutors,” said Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff. “He brought a lot of professionalism and humanism to the office,” said San Francisco DA Terence Hallinan, for whom Iglehart was chief assistant for four years. “He had a lot of simpatico of my own ideas about rehabilitation and being tough on violent crime.” Iglehart joined the Alameda DA’s office in 1970. He spent nearly 20 years there and was popular with both colleagues and defense lawyers. “He knew what a case was worth and how a jury would come out,” said Gary Sirbu, a longtime Oakland defense attorney. “As a judge, he knew about the bottom line.” During the 1970s, while working for Alameda DA D. Lowell Jensen, Iglehart advocated on behalf of California prosecutors in Sacramento. He was the legislative point man for the organization that became the California District Attorneys Association. Saint Helena appellate attorney Gordon Brownell worked with Iglehart on legislation that decriminalized marijuana possession in California. Brownell, who was the lobbyist for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Iglehart was instrumental in working out a compromise under which California DAs remained neutral on the bill. “We worked on exact opposite sides,” Brownell said. “But I ended up having a great deal of personal affection and respect for Dick. � He was somebody who kept his word once he made a commitment.” Iglehart eventually rose to No. 2 in the DA’s office under Jack Meehan. He was chief assistant for eight years before Attorney General John Van de Kamp made him chief of the AG’s criminal division in 1989. Van de Kamp said he had tried for several years to lure Iglehart to Sacramento after he became AG. He was looking for a lawyer who would firm up the AG’s relationship with local prosecutors and to fight perceptions that the AG was an “ivory tower” operation. Even with a long, accomplishment-studded resume �� which included a stint as chief counsel to the Assembly Public Safety Committee �� Iglehart wanted a gavel. He unsuccessfully applied for a judicial post under Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration. He ran against then-Commissioner Barbara Miller for an open Alameda County seat in 1996, but Miller won. After leaving Sacramento in 1995, he returned to the Alameda DA’s office for only a couple of years before crossing the Bay Bridge to become Hallinan’s chief assistant. He arrived at a tumultuous time: He was Hallinan’s third chief assistant in less than a year. “He saw it as a challenge,” Orloff said. Van de Kamp said Hallinan made a shrewd choice: “Hallinan could not have picked a better person given Hallinan’s own reputation.” In 2000, Iglehart finally made it to the bench, winning appointment by Gov. Gray Davis to an Alameda County seat. Judge Jon Rolefson, who has known Iglehart for 30 years, said Iglehart was big-hearted and unpretentious. Years spent as a top administrator gave him an innate ability to size people up, Rolefson said. Iglehart could grasp complex issues and begin working on them right away, he said. “He knew what was going on, he knew who the movers and shakers were,” said Rolefson of his friend. After Iglehart got to the bench, prosecutors and defense attorneys respected him, Rolefson said. “People trusted him,” Rolefson said. “He was going to be a great judge as long as he wanted to be on the bench.” Iglehart is survived by his wife, Judy, and a son, said Presiding Judge Harry Sheppard. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

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