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COURT: Northern District of California APPOINTED: June 18, by judges of Northern District DATE OF BIRTH: July 23, 1952 LAW SCHOOL: Hastings College of the Law, 1978 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: none Driving from Eureka to San Francisco takes about five hours. Flying takes an hour and 20 minutes in a prop plane, and only 40 minutes in a jet, but then you don’t get coffee. Attorneys in the most northern region of the Northern District are used to the long commute. Their neighborhood may be nestled in beautiful redwoods next to the Oregon border but their livelihood requires their presence on Golden Gate Avenue. Now that’s changing. Local federal judges recently appointed former Assistant U.S. Attorney Nandor Vadas to be the new magistrate judge for the Eureka area. Vadas said the Eureka court has been underused, and he wants to “revitalize” it by increasing and diversifying the civil caseload. “It’s the beginning of hopefully a trend � where parties no longer have to come to San Francisco,” said Vadas. “Slowly but surely we’re building the civil side of the calendar.” Attorneys and judges are excited about Vadas’ initiative and say he’s bringing some needed energy to the job. It’s not all about convenience. If Vadas is successful in making Eureka a genuine outpost instead of just a satellite, it will also help reduce the caseload at the San Francisco courthouse, said Chief Magistrate Judge Patricia Trumbull. “He’s very anxious to bring as much federal court service to the area as it will tolerate,” Trumbull said. Eureka has had a federal magistrate for decades. That person’s responsibility has grown with the population and demand on federal courts to resolve criminal cases and other disputes. Most recently, the magistrate was Larry Nord, who retired in the summer of 2003. When he began in 1971, Nord said, there was enough work for a magistrate working about 10 to 15 percent of a full-time schedule. That climbed to 25 percent because of an increased caseload. Vadas is authorized to work at that level and, as is allowed by federal rules, is filling out his week with a family law practice. Nord, who is 63, said he retired in part because he wasn’t interested in increasing the civil caseload. Indeed, Trumbull said Vadas is going to have to work more than the allotted hours — essentially for free — in order to drive up the workload statistics the judiciary uses to determine funding for positions. Attorneys say they’re confident about Vadas’ abilities, even though his resume doesn’t include significant civil experience. After graduating from Hastings College of the Law in 1978, Vadas eventually landed at the San Francisco district attorney’s office. He left there in 1989 to take a job as a federal prosecutor. He worked as an assistant for nine years and then left in 1998 for a very brief stint working as a lawyer and investigator at Kroll Inc. “So then I made the decision that I wanted a more comprehensive change,” Vadas said of his move up to rural Eureka. He got a job with the Humboldt County DA’s office and also served as the special assistant U.S. attorney in the area. Vadas gets good grades from his former colleagues as well as from defense attorneys, who sometimes worry that prosecutors will bring a pro-government stance to the bench. During a recent day of arraignments and other criminal hearings — Vadas was filling in for Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte — he was a little tentative with some of the proceedings, but he listened as both sides straightened him out. Federal Defender Barry Portman, who spoke at Vadas’ magistrate induction, said so far Vadas is making a good impression. That doesn’t surprise Ann Moorman, who practices criminal defense out of offices in Ukiah and Emeryville. She said Vadas fulfilled his role as a prosecutor by serving as a “buffer” between law enforcement and the accused, instead of just doing what cops wanted. “Prosecutors have enormous discretion, and he did it so well,” Moorman said. “Magistrate is a natural evolution for him and is good news for all of us.” Of course, criminal duties are only part of the equation. Although he’s pushing to increase the civil load in Eureka, Vadas also readily acknowledges his own inexperience with civil cases. “There’s no way you can get around that. � I think people want what I wanted: read the papers, understand the issues, understand the facts and apply the law,” Vadas said. “It’s a little daunting to learn a whole new language, but I think I’m up to the challenge.” This month he already has scheduled two civil settlement conferences and also has calendared two trial consent matters — a badge of honor among magistrates who have to prove to litigants they’re just as capable as Article III judges. Nancy Delaney, a civil practioner with Eureka’s Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney & Vri-eze, served on the selection committee that recommended Vadas. She was ready to consent to Vadas conducting a trial in one of her cases, but the other side didn’t agree. Delaney commutes to the Bay Area at least once a month — more if she has a big case, such as the litigation over the controversial pepper spraying of logging protesters. (She represented the public entities.) “I’m very hopeful it will evolve into something where we more regularly have the ability to litigate here rather than in the Bay Area,” she said.

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