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Your recent story ["Santa Clara judges choose Danser's spouse to lead court," Sept. 27]on the election of Judge Catherine Gallagher to the post of assistant presiding judge in Santa Clara County was grossly unfair, sexist and inaccurate. Your coverage sullied a reputation through guilt by association, which is always unfair. It was sexist because you would never have mentioned the criminal record of the wife of a male judge who was similarly promoted, let alone have it constitute the entire focus of the article and accompanying headline. And it was inaccurate because your writer failed to convey the real reasons Judge Gallagher’s colleagues unanimously selected her for this important position. Judge Gallagher is a former deputy district attorney whose other experience includes service in the enforcement division at the Securities and Exchange Commission, as an assistant U.S. attorney, and as an attorney in private practice. Since her appointment to the bench in 1989, she has admirably and effectively handled every rotation in our county, including family, criminal, probate, civil, trial and juvenile delinquency assignments, and the Superior Court’s appellate division. She is a former member of the National Commission on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency with professional experience and training in the areas of sentencing alternatives and conflict administration. On the bench, Judge Gallagher is widely known as an expert in mediation who encourages settlement conferences, appropriate plea bargains and a collegial, open and respectful courtroom. This is the type of information that should have been included in your article instead of your focus on the criminal conviction of her husband, which did not involve her conduct or decisions in any way. Your article and headline was also unfair to Judge Gallagher’s colleagues on the bench because it seemed to imply that the conviction of her husband had some connection with our decision to promote her to this senior position. That is not only untrue, it is patently absurd. By digging a little deeper you would have learned that, in reality, Judge Gallagher’s colleagues unanimously selected her for this promotion, which represents a consensus that is not always present. It occurred in this instance because Judge Gallagher’s impeccable reputation has earned her the respect of everyone who works with her. That is a rare accomplishment in these contentious times, and it should not have been omitted from your coverage. In addition to being unfair, sexist and inaccurate, your coverage of Judge Gallagher also violates basic standards of common sense and decency. Judges are human beings. Like anyone else, we have families, loved ones and relationships that can be tainted by the same problems that afflict everyone. Like others, we also often have little or no control over the actions and decisions of those we care for, including our closest relatives. That is why it should not be surprising that judges react in the same way others do if their loved ones are accused or convicted of wrongdoing — by providing support, guidance and help with rehabilitation. These are activities that decent people honor, encourage and respect. They certainly do not merit the tarring or staining of an entire family’s reputation. It may be easier to understand why your coverage was so offensive if you put the shoe on the other foot. I wonder if TheRecorder‘s editors and writers would be willing to print a list of the criminal records of their close relatives alongside each article they write? Doing so would meet the same relevancy test you apparently applied in your treatment of Judge Gallagher, namely, that it has no relevance at all. In a civilized society we do not drag people’s names through the mud just because the mud is there. You would not have done it to yourself and you should not have done it to someone else. I urge you to examine your conduct in this case, to review and update your approach to issues of basic fairness, gender equity and accuracy. You should ask yourself how you would feel if someone reported on your successes by highlighting the misdeeds of your relatives. And I also urge you to consider printing a more carefully researched and thorough article about the actual accomplishments of Judge Gallagher, which are remarkable and inspiring, particularly to those who know her well. Judge Eugene M. Hyman San Jose Editor’s note:We do not doubt that Catherine Gallagher stands on her own two feet as a superior court judge. We also agree that the criminal conduct of a judge’s spouse may not always be relevant to the judge himself or herself. The difference in this case is that the spouse is not some ordinary person busted for possessing illegal drugs or writing bad checks, but until a few months ago a judge of the very same court, who has publicly acknowledged that his criminal conduct brought disrepute to the court. We certainly feel that fact was worth two paragraphs in an eight-paragraph story.

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