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I expect your notice of the death of retired Judge Martin Rothenberg to produce a slew of stories about him ["Martin Rothenberg, 86, former CoCo judge, 'Father of BART,'" Jan. 20]. He was a character as well as a good (if occasionally impatient) judge. Here’s my story: In the late ’70s I appeared before him in Law and Motion to argue a demurrer, contending that a fraud complaint had been alleged without specificity. My opponent in his opposition (unwisely) chose to argue that he did not need to tell us what our clients had done because we already knew. We were about 18th on the calendar, but Judge Rothenberg called the matter first, before the assembled local bar. After a very brief argument by my opponent, and silence from me, Judge Rothenberg ruled that he was going to grant the demurrer and give my opponent “six months’ leave to amend, because it will take you that long to figure out how to do it.” Speaking for the first time I said: “Was that six months’ leave to amend, your honor?” The reply from the bench: “Six months!” That evening I saw the judge at a local bar association function where he was content to allow me to buy him a martini. I remarked that he had really let opposing counsel have it that morning. Judge Rothenberg replied that that had been his “second favorite” order and that he was waiting for a chance to use his most favorite. I asked what could be worse than what he had done that morning. He said: “I’m waiting for the time that counsel in argument, in response to a question from the bench, gets that dazed look I often see, at which time I plan to lean over and say quietly: ‘Perhaps you should consult competent counsel.’” We lost a unique man, who left his mark in many ways. Michael Matthews San Francisco

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