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COURT: Santa Clara County Superior ELECTED: November 1998 DATE OF BIRTH: July 2, 1942 EDUCATION: Santa Clara University School of Law, 1976 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joyce Allegro spent part of her childhood on her family’s Kansas farm where she gathered eggs and learned to raise chickens. So it’s understandable that she has little patience with attorneys who don’t put in the necessary work on their cases before appearing in her court. “Obviously I’ve had to work hard to get where I am so I understand the pressure,” said Allegro, 62, who spent a decade raising four children, briefly taught Spanish and worked in a university library before turning to law school at 31. “But that’s what the job requires — hard work.” It’s been a long road to the judiciary for Allegro. And there have been some equally hard times on the bench, including an instance where she was transferred from the domestic violence court after public defenders filed challenges, claiming she couldn’t be fair because of her background as a domestic violence advocate. Allegro’s tough demeanor and relentless work as a prosecutor seem to inspire both admiration and criticism. But everyone concedes that she keeps her nose to the grindstone. In person, Allegro is warm and personable — far from the hardened murder prosecutor many attorneys describe. Her office is decorated with American flags, and visitors are offered warm coffee when they enter her chambers. Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Field remembers Allegro as somewhat of a mentor when he started prosecuting murders in the late ’90s. He said he would often drop in Allegro’s office and ask for technical case advice. “She has a deserved reputation as an excellent trial attorney,” said Field, who is eyeing a possible run for DA in 2006. Allegro, a felony trial judge, grew up in Kansas and spent a year at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles before returning to the Midwest. She’s also lived in Iowa, Washington state, Northern Virginia and Ohio. During college at the University of Wichita (now Wichita State) in Kansas, Allegro became interested in political science. When she saw men getting accepted into law school, she figured she was just as smart and could do the same. But she was married shortly after finishing college in 1963 and started a family. Her ambitions were put on hold, but she wasn’t about to let them go — even while holding less-than-ideal jobs. “I was probably the world’s worst Spanish teacher,” she said. “I figured out early that it wasn’t for me.” Allegro kept her eye on law school, and finally entered Santa Clara University School of Law when her family moved to the Bay Area. She was 34 in 1976 when she graduated cum laude and as a member of the law review. “I treated it like a job,” Allegro said of law school. “I left at 8 in the morning, and I studied till 5,” she said. “When I went home I did the ‘mommy’ thing and then I studied again till midnight. Then I got up and did it all over again.” Allegro joined the DA’s office in 1977 but left for the private sector in 1980 due to what she claims was gender discrimination. She spent a short time at Littler Mendelson and did a stint in San Mateo’s DA office before returning to Santa Clara in 1982. She then spent eight years trying homicide cases, supervised the misdemeanor unit, and headed the robbery and assault team. In 1996, she was named prosecutor of the year by a national victims rights organization, Citizens Against Homicide. But Allegro said she began to burn out from years of tough trials. So when a friend suggested she run for judge, she took the challenge. She was elected to the bench in November 1998 and started work in 1999. In 2000, Santa Clara Presiding Judge Jack Komar transferred Allegro out of the domestic violence court. Komar said then that the switch was a way to move cases along that couldn’t be heard by Allegro because of peremptory challenges. Allegro said she was baffled by the move. “I don’t understand the rationale behind thinking that if a judge has too much work or experience in a subject area, they need a different assignment,” she said. She has also been nagged by a perception that she is pro-prosecution because of her long history in the DA’s office. One prominent local defense attorney, who asked not to be named, said he hopes his felony cases don’t end up in Allegro’s court. “I’m not saying she won’t take a DA to task, but even then, it’s like she’s a senior deputy criticizing a junior lawyer for not getting things right,” the attorney said. Others disagree. “I really like appearing in front of her,” said Deputy DA Dale Lohman, who was in Allegro’s court earlier this year for an identity theft case. “She’s on top of evidentiary issues and she’s not afraid. It doesn’t matter what side it affects — she will stick her neck out and make calls when other judges would look for the easy way out.” In 2004, 25 attorneys in a Santa Clara County biannual survey of judges said Allegro needed improvement in impartiality and temperament. Allegro disputes the charge, saying that the fact that she was a passionate advocate doesn’t affect her judicial temperament. “It’s wrong to assume you won’t be fair,” she said. “I was an aggressive prosecutor, but I think I was fair.”

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