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COURT: Alameda County Superior APPOINTED: Aug. 5, 1996, by Gov. Pete Wilson DATE OF BIRTH: March 3, 1951 LAW SCHOOL: McGeorge School of Law at University of the Pacific PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Municipal court judge, San Leandro, Hayward District. Appointed Aug. 25, 1993, by Gov. Wilson. Defense attorneys can walk out of Judge Roy Hashimoto’s courtroom with their pride intact �� even if he sends their client to the slammer. The Alameda County Superior Court judge, who sits in Hayward, treats lawyers “as if their mother was in the courtroom,” said Fremont defense attorney David Byron. Hashimoto lavishes praise on attorneys in open court and routinely tells defendants that they are lucky to have such a skilled lawyer, Byron and other attorneys say. During a recent court session, Hashimoto rejected Hayward defense attorney Darryl Billups’ motion for a mistrial, but the judge delivered the ruling with a spoonful of honey. “You always do a superb job,” Hashimoto said, noting that the lawyer had won an acquittal and a hung jury in his courtroom in other cases. “But I am not going to grant a mistrial in this case.” In an interview, Hashimoto said he doesn’t dole out empty praise. As a former prosecutor, he knows the hours of toil that lawyers put into their cases. “I generally get the better lawyers in my courtroom,” said the judge, who presides over felony trials, felony criminal law and motion, and the felony restitution calendar. Hashimoto has a nice-guy image, but he’s no pushover, lawyers say. While attorneys on both sides of the aisle say Hashimoto is even-handed, a few defense attorneys say the former prosecutor rarely rules in favor of their motions, such as motions to suppress. Even prosecutors say Hashimoto has a law-and-order streak, noting that he hands out tough sentences if the defendant is convicted. Hashimoto is a hard worker who will roll up his sleeves to take on a misdemeanor calendar or pour over volumes of discovery, attorneys say. Defense attorneys rarely try to bounce the Hayward judge with a � 170.6 peremptory disqualification motion if he is assigned to their case, prosecutors report. “He’s tough on crime, but he’s not a prosecutor’s patsy,” said Kenneth Ryken, a deputy district attorney who was assigned to Hashimoto’s criminal law and motion calendar for 18 months. While defense attorneys praised the judge’s trial skills, they disagreed about whether he sides with the DA on motions. Byron, the Fremont defense lawyer, called Hashimoto “fair.” A couple of years ago, Hashimoto granted a motion to suppress on his case and dismissed one of the counts tied to it, Byron said. Assistant Public Defender James McWilliams said Hashimoto was “conservative” on defense motions. Prosecutors defended the judge’s track record. Ryken recalled that when he was assigned to Hashimoto’s law and motion calendar, the judge granted two of the last 12 defense motions to suppress. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Rogers, who supervises southern Alameda County operations, put it this way: “From our perspective, the police are highly trained and do know the law. So it should be very rare that there is a Fourth Amendment violation.” For his part, Hashimoto says he sees himself as a “strict constructionist” on motions. “The U.S. and state Supreme Court have made certain rulings that people would view as conservative. I follow precedent,” he said. Judge Hashimoto doesn’t like to get pushed around, lawyers say. “People underestimate him because he is nice to people,” said Rogers, who has appeared before the judge and knew him when Hashimoto was a deputy DA. Sometimes attorneys try to manipulate a good-natured judge, assuming that the “last one who pounds on the table wins,” Rogers said. Hashimoto “won’t be intimidated by a loud lawyer,” the prosecutor said. Hashimoto’s most well-known showdown happened in 2000. That’s when he ordered Assistant Public Defender Alfred Brandi to turn in his copies of jury questionnaires at the end of a murder trial because the judge feared jurors’ answers might become public. Brandi and his boss, Public Defender Diane Bellas, refused to hand over the documents, which by then had Brandi’s notes scribbled on them. Hashimoto found Bellas in contempt, and the case went to the First District Court of Appeal. The panel sided with Bellas in Bellas v. Superior Court, 85 Cal.App.4th 636. Bellas did not return a call for comment. The issue was never personal, Hashimoto said. “I have to control my courtroom,” the judge said. “If you read the opinion, the court acknowledged that everything was professionally done. It was always a disagreement as far as a certain point of law.” Hashimoto was appointed to the San Leandro-Hayward municipal bench after working for the Alameda County DA for more than 16 years. In 1996, Gov. Pete Wilson elevated him to the superior court. Hashimoto, who keeps two treadmills in his judge’s chambers to burn off calories and handle stress, has few rules for attorneys. “I am a flexible person,” he said. Ryken, however, cautioned that attorneys should be wary if Hashimoto heaps on too much praise. “If he compliments you first,” the deputy DA said, “you lost.”

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