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COURT:Third District Court of Appeal APPOINTED:Jan. 15, 2002 DATE OF BIRTH:March 13, 1937 LAW SCHOOL:McGeorge School of Law, 1967 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE:Sacramento County Superior Court, 1986-2002, Sacramento Municipal Court, 1983-1986 Justice Ronald Robie loves Broadway musicals. But he has a low tolerance for lawyers who try to tap-dance around the facts. “Be horribly candid with the court,” warned Robie, who honed his cut-to-the-chase approach during his six-year stint in Sacramento County Superior Court, where, he said, Civil Law and Motions was a favorite assignment. “Our lawyers will read through the transcripts, they’ll give them to me to read parts. You can’t fool us, because we’re here, and we have time.” Described by both bench and bar colleagues as a quick study, Robie prides himself on delivering opinions that succinctly deal with the issues at hand. “I try to make my opinion as brief as possible,” he said. “I have my own little style. I always have subheads and try to look and figure out what the topics are going to be.” Sacramento appellate specialist Jay-Allen Eisen said, “When I was in law and motion, I could tell just by opening a transcript that it was his case. There were very few words from Robie and lots of dashes and interjections back and forth.” “He’s just not a BS-er,” said No�l Ferris, a personal injury attorney with Ferris & Halvorson in Sacramento. Those who have watched Robie in action say he comes to court well prepared, zeroing in on complex issues quickly and efficiently. The justice’s rapid-fire approach may have led some in his courtroom to conclude that he’s impatient or prone to snap judgments. “He cuts through a lot of nonsense that judges have to hear on a daily basis,” said Ferris. “Sometimes he could be impatient, but when I saw that impatience, I would have been far more so.” California Judges Association President James Mize said that Robie, a former colleague on the Sacramento Superior Court, often digests an entire case and knows where he wants to go with it before a lawyer is even finished with arguments. “The attorneys are traveling at 30 miles per hour, and he’s traveling at 90 miles per hour,” said Mize. “He really has the advocate in him. Sometimes he’s not saying anything, but he’s desperate to get involved.” Robie also gets high marks from colleagues for thorough case analysis — even when the material before him is especially dense or complex. A 2003 ruling authored by Robie held that the courts had the right to curtail the emergency powers of Gov. Gray Davis to unilaterally negotiate with power suppliers during the energy crisis. The Supreme Court ended up de-publishing that opinion as moot following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election. Robie has also authored rulings that a row of trees can constitute an illegal “spite fence,” considered a nuisance under California law; that the term “my money” in a holographic will refers to all of the bank accounts, CDs, mutual funds, bonds and treasury bills of a deceased; and that a defendant accused of flashing his genitals at another driver during a “road rage” incident met the legal standard for demonstrating lewd intent. Robie also served in 1991, 1997 and 1999 as a special master for the Commission on Judicial Performance and sat on several key Judicial Council committees from 1999-2002. “We’re all generalists,” said Robie, whose career has included virtually every trial court assignment in Sacramento Superior Court, a year as presiding judge during court unification, eight years as a staff director in the California Assembly, and nearly 20 years as chief of the California Department of Water Resources. “The law is so full of different areas that no one can ever be a master of all of it, or even try, but having done a lot of things certainly helps,” he said. Like other members of the Third District bench, Robie has high praise for his colleagues, who manage to arrive at consensus more often than not, even though they were appointed by governors spanning the political spectrum from George Deukmejian to Gray Davis. “We have relatively few dissents, and when they are there, they don’t represent philosophic differences,” observed Robie. He attributes the harmony to the leadership of Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland. Moreover, he noted, many of the justices are former colleagues from Sacramento Superior Court who share generally centrist views. “We’re basically middle-of-the-road people,” said Robie. “Nobody has any axes to grind on the court.” The justice, who spent four years chairing the California Judges Association Executive Board’s technical committee in the mid-1990s, is a proponent of electronic access to court documents. “I think court documents should be online,” said Robie. “I don’t have any problems with it.” As a former member of the Judicial Council and a presiding judge during trial court unification, Robie has scant sympathy for court administrators who complain that too much power is being concentrated in the hands of the council and the Administrative Office of the Courts. “Judges today have the Chief [Justice Ronald George] fighting for them in Sacramento and doing a really good job,” said Robie. “They were on their own before.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.therecorder.com/profiles.htmlor by calling 415-749-5523.

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