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COURT: Santa Clara County Superior APPOINTED: 1989, by Gov. George Deukmejian DATE OF BIRTH: Sept. 2, 1952 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law, 1980 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None SAN JOSE — As an eager high school student, Jerome Brock followed Judge Edgar Taylor around the Los Gatos courthouse performing errands and learning about the law. Brock soon left Northern California and went to the University of Colorado in Boulder to study history. But it wasn’t long before he returned to the courthouse where he was once a gofer, this time as a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. The story seemed to come to a logical conclusion when Brock was named a Santa Clara County judge in 1989. But it took another interesting turn when Taylor recently retired and Brock took over for his longtime mentor as judge of the county’s early resolution calendar. In his position, Brock oversees cases set aside before a preliminary hearing or trial in hopes that attorneys can reach an agreement on sentences for criminal defendants. Among the felonies scheduled during a recent week was a man who led police on a 100-mph chase with his lights out through traffic. Brock describes many of the cases he works on as “funny but sad.” Attorneys say Brock’s position is crucial because it keeps cases moving smoothly through the courts and offers criminal defendants the best chance to get a reasonable sentence. “We take a substantial portion of cases out of the system at an early stage to save some of the headaches,” Brock said. “This job is about the system working as efficiently as it can.” Attorneys who work with Brock say there’s much more involved — and most laud his ability to move quickly through a calendar while giving each case ample attention. “An [early resolution] judge has to have enough experience to evaluate what a case is worth because we don’t have much time,” said Deputy Public Defender Kelley Kulick. “He’s very good at balancing mitigating factors and public safety issues. He thinks about these issues every time we go through the calendar cases . . . and he’s shown why he is good at what he does.” “We’re lucky to have him on the early resolution calendar,” Kulick says. “He’s amicable with public defenders and district attorneys, and both sides feel like they get a fair shake when they put a case in front of him.” Deputy PD Susannah Shamos agrees — Brock is cordial and helps cases move smoothly through the docket, she says. Brock’s entire life seemed directed toward a law career. After working a few odd jobs — including a stint as a restaurant manager — he attended law school, graduating from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1980. He soon joined the district attorney’s office where he went on to specialize in juvenile justice. During that time, he prosecuted youths and also worked on cases where children from bad homes were placed in state custody. The position taught the young attorney that many children live in abusive situations or broken homes and are often unwittingly pushed into crime. Brock said he learned many important lessons — among them how important it is for authorities to intervene before children turn into habitual criminals. Sadly, Brock says, the problem has not diminished. He now watches construction of a new juvenile jail out of his office window every day. Because of his lengthy background as a prosecutor, some attorneys say Brock offers tougher sentences than his predecessor — a charge he does not entirely dispute. Brock said the job is a constant balancing act between maintaining public safety and working with defendants who have decided to avoid the hassles of a trial. “I’ve got to live with what I do,” Brock says. “If a guy is dangerous and I only give him a week, I didn’t do justice or protect the county.” Brock said he can look at a case from both perspectives since he spent time as a prosecutor and a private defense attorney. But his experience as a felony trial judge also plays into his decisions. To keep negotiations civil, Brock tries to keep his office somewhat informal. Jars of candy share space on shelves with hefty legal tomes and books on the Civil War. Brock says Judge Taylor always tried to keep things relaxed, and he wants to do the same. His love of history continues to this day. Brock recently visited Civil War battlefields in Virginia, including Antietam and Manassas. He also researches and reads about California judges and legal history. His fascination with the process extends outside his job. During the Polly Klaas murder trial, Brock often dropped in at the court to observe. Lately, Brock said he’s been exercising, too — in part to reduce stress from his heavy court load. Since he’s traded in stress for healthier habits, he also tries not to indulge in the treats in plentiful supply around his office.

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