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Retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Howard Schwartz, who served on the bench for two decades and helped investigate the Rose Bird court, died Wednesday. He was 69. “I am in shock,” said Judge Larry Goodman, Schwartz’s friend and former campaign manager. “He was a tremendous person.” Gov. Ronald Reagan tapped Schwartz to serve on the Oakland-Piedmont municipal court in 1970. Previously, Schwartz had maintained a private law practice in Oakland for nine years. Schwartz also briefly worked as an Alameda County deputy district attorney. Schwartz served on the Commission on Judicial Performance from 1976 until 1981. During that time the watchdog agency probed the California Supreme Court under then-Chief Justice Rose Bird. That investigation helped fuel the successful effort to recall Bird and two other justices. Schwartz retired from the bench in 1992 but did some mediation afterward. Colleagues say Schwartz was a hard- working jurist with a dry wit. On the bench, he was even-tempered and had a soft touch when dealing with rookie attorneys. Schwartz was athletic — a longtime volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club — and devoted to his family, Goodman said. Judge Carl Morris remembered appearing before Schwartz when he was a new public defender. In those days, the easygoing Schwartz stood out, he said. “A lot of people don’t have patience with young lawyers,” said Morris. “He was extremely helpful to both sides. He let us try our wings.” When Schwartz decided to run for the superior court bench, he and Goodman, who was not yet a judge, were introduced. Goodman became one of Schwartz’s campaign managers, and Schwartz was elected in 1980. Goodman credited Schwartz with helping him meet George Deukmejian, who as governor appointed Goodman to the bench. Judge Jeffrey Horner said Schwartz’s personal integrity and knowledge of the law was widely admired by the bench. Judges sought out Schwartz for advice while he was on the bench and after he retired. “He didn’t have to act a certain way to be judicial,” Goodman said. “He was at peace with who he was.” Schwartz is survived by his wife Marion and three sons. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland.

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