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Wendy Duffy, the first woman appointed to the bench in Monterey County, was tapped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Sixth District Court of Appeal on Thursday. The governor also named Deputy Attorney General Morris Beatus, who specializes in defending death penalty judgments, to fill the last remaining vacancy on the Alameda County Superior Court bench. Beatus, 57, will fill retired Judge Jeffrey Allen’s seat. The 53-year-old Duffy, a Republican, is viewed by colleagues as a tough judge with a strong prosecutorial background. Last week, she sentenced a drunken driver to three 15-years-to-life sentences for a crash that killed a couple and their unborn daughter. At the March 31 sentencing, Duffy told the driver that his decision to drive drunk “was not an accident.” Last month, she also ruled that a former deputy public defender who practiced law without a license could be prosecuted by her former adversaries in the district attorney’s office. “It will be a real benefit to the Sixth District to have her on the bench,” said Judge Terrance Duncan, outgoing presiding judge for Monterey County. “She’s a fine candidate,” said Judge Robert O’Farrell, a Democratic colleague who also interviewed for the Sixth District post. Other colleagues describe Duffy as firm, but collegial — qualities they say will serve her well on the appellate bench. Duffy was appointed to the municipal court by Gov. George Deukmejian in 1989. She later founded a drug treatment court in collaboration with the Monterey County health and probation departments. Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Duffy to the superior court bench in 1999, where she has presided over high-profile felony cases. Duffy is overseeing two jury trials right now, including one in which a Salinas couple is accused of starving to death a developmentally disabled family member. Prior to assuming the bench, she served for 11 years as a deputy district attorney in Monterey County, where she was the first attorney assigned to a special unit for the prosecution of sex offenses. Duffy, who lives in Carmel, earned her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law. She fills a vacancy on the appellate bench created by the departure of Justice William Wunderlich, who left last year to take a position as U.S. magistrate in Yosemite. The position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. If confirmed, she’ll earn $159,965 per year. Beatus, who has declined to state his political affiliation, graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He began his career as a trial lawyer working with San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli. Over the din of Beatus’ co-workers “giving me a hard time” about the appointment, the deputy AG said he is indeed excited. “It’s a wonderful experience,” Beatus said. “It’s a culmination of my career that I’ve looked forward to for a very long time.” In 1982 Beatus became the senior attorney for the Judicial Council of California. He joined the AG’s office three years later, where he defended death penalty judgments in federal habeas corpus cases. Beatus also served as head of the AG’s Energy Task Force from 2001 to 2002. Beatus should feel at home at his new job. He has participated in exchange programs through the AG’s office with the Alameda and Contra Costa courts and lives in Berkeley. He’ll earn $139,784 per year as a judge.

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