X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
COURT: Santa Clara County Superior APPOINTED: April 17, 1986, by Gov. George Deukmejian DATE OF BIRTH: July 25, 1942 LAW SCHOOL: Lincoln Law School, 1969 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Santa Clara County Municipal Court 1986-89 SAN JOSE � It’s 11 a.m. on a Monday and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Hugh Mullin III is running a bit late for an interview. He has a good excuse: A felony drunken driving case is being heard in his courtroom. The businesslike Mullin waves a visitor back when the attorneys agree that a probation pre-sentence report must be filed before the case can proceed. The courtroom is empty except for two attorneys and the defendant � like many little-publicized felonies processed daily. The man outside the courtroom is little different than the judge inside it: He speaks in short, efficient sentences, whether talking about the six criminal cases heard this morning or a recent trip to Ireland. He is disarmingly straightforward. Funnily enough, Mullin says he is a stickler for attorneys arriving on time or at least remembering to call when they have a conflicting court date. The 62-year-old jurist said he doesn’t mind attorneys rescheduling “as long as they don’t make a habit of making you last all the time.” That doesn’t surprise attorneys who have practiced in his courtroom. “He’s a hard-nosed judge, but he’s not afraid to do what’s right even if it’s not popular,” said Deputy Public Defender Brian Matthews, who represented serial pedophile Brian DeVries. Mullin was inspired to pursue a law career by his father, a wills and probate attorney who often discussed his practice at the dinner table. He earned a history degree from Santa Clara University and a law degree from San Jose’s Lincoln Law School in 1969. Mullin eventually did join his father’s practice in 1970. But criminal court beckoned almost from the beginning. When he told his father he was leaving Mullin & Mullin in 1972 to work in the Santa Clara district attorney’s office, he said his father was supportive. As a prosecutor, Mullin handled a cross section of cases, including shoplifting, robberies and rapes. “It’s not easy to see a person make a mess of their lives, so it’s better when you’ve dealt with criminal law for a while and start with minor offenses,” he said. Mullin worked as a prosecutor until April 1986 when he joined the municipal bench. Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu has known Mullin since he was a prosecutor. She said the jurist is well respected for his ability to quickly analyze complex litigation. In one instance, she said, Mullin adeptly handled a case that required two juries because of an obscure legal statute. “He’s known for handling complex legal issues and handling them well,” Sinunu said. “If someone comes to me and has a complex case, I’m hoping it ends up with Mullin.” Sinunu added that Mullin’s no-nonsense personality and emphasis on organization often hide a good sense of humor. Assistant Public Defender Jose Guzman said Mullin’s attention to scheduling and detail was a boon when the judge handled the court’s criminal docket. “He was good at handling the calendar, moved things along well, and was easy to deal with,” said Guzman, who spent many Friday mornings in chambers with the judge examining trial schedules. “He always wanted lawyers to be ready, and he wanted to move the calendar along, but he would give a continuance for a good reason,” Guzman said, adding that Mullin “wouldn’t give too many of them.” Matthews once represented a phlebotomist who reused needles on patients � a case heard in Mullin’s courtroom. He said Mullin was open to the defense’s explanation of the crime and “gave a fair sentence when a lot of people wanted more time.” “He didn’t give her a light sentence by any means, but he didn’t send to her prison, either,” Matthews said. The woman instead received the maximum county jail sentence. “He has a balanced approach,” Matthews said. “He puts a lot of thought into what he does, and I respect him for that. He does have a tough exterior, and it’s often a tough sentence if you lose, but he’s fair.” Mullin says he continues to enjoy working as a judge because it offers an ongoing legal education and a chance to talk with many lawyers. “You get a good cross section of cases and attorneys,” he said. “You might get a lawyer you haven’t seen for six months or a few years up for a trial.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.