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FORMER JUDGE GOES FROM TRAFFIC TICKETS TO THEATER TICKETS Back in the 1970s, traffic court commissioner Jerry Levitin was known for cutting people slack if they got a parking ticket and bothered to appear before him. Twenty-five years after leaving the bench, he’s still doing it. When Levitin puts on his first play this month in San Francisco, most of the audience will pay $15 to $20. But anyone who brings proof they’ve gotten a traffic ticket in the last year gets five bucks off admission to the traffic-court-meets-murder tale, “I’d Kill for a Parking Place.” Levitin says he felt badly for people who went through the hassle of going to court to argue their tickets, adding, “I felt they either felt very strongly, or didn’t have the money.” The former criminal defense attorney left the municipal court in 1980, then briefly dabbled in real estate law. About three years later, he entered the hotel business and wrote several editions of a guidebook, “Country Inns and Back Roads.” Several years ago he began tinkering with his script, giving it a backdrop of racially charged serial killings inspired by the city’s infamous Zebra murders of the 1970s. He finished the play after he sold his Camden, Maine, bed and breakfast two years ago. Stealing some inspiration from his own life, Levitin’s made his protagonist a traffic court jurist who finds humor in his daily grind. Like Levitin, the character aspires to a judge seat, then feels his hopes are dashed by a defaming news story. “All that issue of slanderous betrayal and the whole bit is in the play, only it’s a comedy,” Levitin said. Unlike Levitin’s own experience, though, his main character becomes a suspect in the story’s serial killings. “I’d Kill for a Parking Place” is in town for seven performances from Friday to May 8 at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco. For more information, see www.sheltontheater.com. The theater seats 72 — 504 for the run. Surely there are at least that many meter-maid victims out there who owe it to him to show up. — Pam Smith WALKER LIKES EGYPTIANS Northern District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker recently returned from a quick trip to an exotic locale. The U.S. Commerce Department invited him to speak at the “Conference on Competition Law and Regulation in Egypt.” This year, the Mideast nation passed a statute designed to help it modernize its regulatory system so that it can participate in European and other international trade. “On the one hand, with all their problems, you wonder why they are worried about antitrust,” Walker said. “But it’s part and parcel of their moving their economic system to something which closely resembles what we have in North America.” Walker is an expert on antitrust. It was part of his private practice at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro before he was appointed to the bench. And he’s had his share of big antitrust cases since then, most notably when he approved Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover of rival PeopleSoft Inc. In Walker’s Egypt presentation, he drew parallels between the new law, U.S. antitrust law and the European Union’s competition laws. It’s not the first time he’s shared his knowledge in a foreign country — he spoke in Bulgaria on securities a few years back. Walker said he’s found it helpful to build his discussion around foreign law, instead of just focusing on the United States. In Egypt, “the attendees were very enthusiastic. They wanted to talk about hypotheticals,” he said. Walker, who stayed in Cairo for the conference, didn’t have much time for sight-seeing and was only able to get out for one day, which he spent in a museum. But he said that’s OK because he had visited the country as a tourist in 1998. “I recommend it. . . . It’s a marvelous place to visit as a tourist,” Walker said. “Egyptians are very friendly people and very pleasant to deal with.” — Jeff Chorney BALA GALA Bay Area Legal Aid held a party last week to celebrate the grand opening of San Mateo County’s first restraining-order clinic in Redwood City. On hand to commemorate the occasion were some of the county’s biggest movers and shakers in superior court, including Presiding Judge George Miram. Also at the April 19 gala were members of Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), which is helping BayLegal with the new clinic. “We had an amazing bench turnout,” said Jennifer Keith, the managing attorney for BayLegal’s San Mateo regional office. “It’s been a real close collaboration with the court.” The clinic, which helps domestic-violence victims obtain court orders against their abusers, is staffed with two lawyers, thanks to a $70,000 grant from the Equal Access Partnership Fund and a $7,500 grant from the Foundation of the California State Bar. It officially opened March 14. Ken Theisen, a spokesman for BayLegal in San Francisco, said the clinic looks like it will be averaging 85 cases a month. That’s on target with the organization’s commitment to help process at least 1,000 restraining orders a year. The Redwood City clinic, at 707 Bradford St., is the sixth to open around the Bay Area. Redwood City gave BayLegal a rent-free lease for the clinic’s office. The clinic can be reached at (650) 701-0850. — Julie O’Shea

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