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COURT: San Mateo County Superior ELECTED: June 5, 1990 DATE OF BIRTH: July 30, 1947 LAW SCHOOL: University of San Francisco, 1976 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: San Mateo County family law commissioner Rosemary Pfeiffer will readily relate that nothing in her family’s history indicated she would one day be a judge. As the oldest of nine children “not from a long line of lawyers,” the San Mateo County Superior Court judge was the first in the family to attend a four-year college. “I’m from a long line of post office employees,” the easy-going 56-year-old said last week. Growing up in San Bruno, she saw her father, uncle and grandfather devote their lives to getting the mail out, and, she said, never dreamed about a life in the law until 1971, while sitting at home taking care of her 18-month-old son. “I thought it would be easier than medical school,” Pfeiffer said while catching a quick lunch between breaks. “And I actually thought law school would be easier than work.” Judges and lawyers interviewed about Pfeiffer have nothing but praise, offering up one accolade after another — she’s diligent, smart, no-nonsense, tough and a “real role model for women.” In 1990 the San Mateo County Commission on the Status of Women named Pfeiffer to its Hall of Fame for her outstanding contributions to the county and its citizens. “She’s one of my favorite judges for many reasons,” said civil and land litigation lawyer Michael McCracken. “She’s highly, highly competent and she’s no-nonsense, but she’s got a good sense of humor and an excellent judicial temperament.” McCracken, a partner in San Mateo’s McCracken, Byers & Haesloop, said some judges suffer from what he and others call “black robe-itis” — in that they let the job go to their heads. Not Pfeiffer, he said. “She is the antithesis of that.” Although raised in San Mateo County, Pfeiffer was born in San Francisco. In high school, she said, she was a speech and debate person. “So the writing was on the wall” for a legal career. After getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from San Francisco State University in 1970 and 1973, respectively, Pfeiffer went on to attend the University of San Francisco School of Law. She got her J.D. in 1976 and was admitted to the bar a year later. Pfeiffer specialized in family law as a solo until 1987, when she was named a family law commissioner for the San Mateo County Superior Court. In 1991, she ran for a vacated judge’s seat and beat three male opponents to become the first woman elected to the bench in San Mateo County. “She was one of the very first certified family specialists to take the bench,” said Redwood City solo Vivian Kral, who’s also on the State Bar Board of Governors. It was during her 1990 run for the bench, however, that Pfeiffer, who is divorced, made possibly her biggest life decision: She came out of the closet as a lesbian. “I outed myself and was outed in the newspapers,” she said. “It just became known in the campaign.” Pfeiffer said it was never a negative campaign issue, and she doesn’t regret her decision to open up. “There’s a freedom to it,” she said. In her 13 years with the court, Pfeiffer has handled law and motion, family law and now probate. In 2000, she was the presiding judge. “So I’ve done everything really, except juvenile and major criminal cases,” Pfeiffer said. Even now, while handling probate court, she’s serving as the supervising family law judge, devotes one day a week to domestic violence cases and handles the court’s mental health calendar. “She just handles anything that comes along,” said fellow Superior Court Judge Joseph Bergeron, “complicated cases and complex cases.” Calling Pfeiffer “just terrific,” Bergeron said lawyers and their clients always get “a fair shake” in her courtroom. “If I were a lawyer, I wouldn’t mind appearing before her,” he said. “In fact, I think I did [before joining the bench].” Foster City solo Katherine Gallo, who has worked with Pfeiffer as a court-appointed discovery referee, seconded Bergeron’s recommendation. “She is an extremely bright woman, very competent,” Gallo said, “and very much cares about the system and the courthouse.” Gallo and Philip Silvestri said Pfeiffer also admits she’s not infallible. “I’ve argued with her in court,” said Silvestri, a partner in Redwood City’s Goth & Silvestri. “I remember one time I thought she did the mathematics on a property division wrong. I was right and she was wrong, and she was fine with that.” Pfeiffer stirred up some controversy last year when she ruled that several local cities did not have to disclose their employees’ salary information. She said the newspapers seeking that data had failed to show the “public interest in the disclosure of information linked to individuals.” That landed Pfeiffer in a Palo Alto Daily News editorial headlined, “Judge eliminates part of your right to know.” These days, Pfeiffer labors quietly in probate court, making decisions on estate matters, wills, conservatorships and guardianships. And, she says, it can be as intense as family law. “It’s like family law with money,” she said. All she demands of lawyers appearing before her is that they respect each other and the process. “I expect they will keep things in proportion and realize that not all cases are the biggest case they will handle in their career,” Pfeiffer said. “Don’t burn all your credit and integrity in one hearing,” she said. “You’ll be back.”

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