Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
COURT: San Francisco Superior APPOINTED: 1992, by Gov. Pete Wilson DATE OF BIRTH: Oct. 9, 1947 LAW SCHOOL: Golden Gate University School of Law, 1980 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Municipal court judge, 1989-1992; superior court commissioner, 1986-1989 With coffee and bagels or a meet-and-greet after trial, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne Bouliane is particularly concerned about treating jurors well. “She’s very solicitous of the jury,” said David Given of San Francisco’s Phillips, Erlewine & Given. When he was in a civil trial before Bouliane, he said, the two sides shared responsibility for providing coffee, Danishes and bagels for the jury. (Bouliane says she has only required it for that trial, when the jurors worked through lunch.) Now presiding over criminal trials, Bouliane tries to demystify the justice system by inviting jurors back to her chambers when the trial is over, to ask questions of her or the attorneys. On the bench more than 15 years, Bouliane has presided over juvenile, criminal and civil cases, and supervised the criminal master calendar. She handled civil trials for about four years in Department 624 at the Civic Center Courthouse until early last year. Her assignment, though not her location, changed when the court decided her time should be used for criminal trials to help address a backlog. What hasn’t changed, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers, is the judge’s determination to avoid keeping the jurors waiting around. Bouliane calls jurors “the essence” of the justice system here. “If we don’t take care of them, we don’t have our system. . . . We’re asking them to give weeks, in some cases months, of [their] time.” “It’s like you are on fast-forward as soon as you empanel a jury,” said Assistant DA David Merin. Up until that point, the judge is accommodating with lawyers’ schedules, he said. “Once you get that jury in there . . . you best be ready.” Before voir dire, the judge also hammers out stipulations on facts to narrow the issues that will go before the jury, added Merin, who recently prosecuted a defendant in her courtroom for failing to register as a sex offender. “I’m very concerned about being considerate of the jury and their time,” Bouliane said. Lawyers should have their witnesses ready to go on time. And she doesn’t like to hear mid-testimony that the attorneys need to argue about something right away outside the jury’s presence, if it should have been anticipated, she said. She’d rather plan ahead so she can take up any issues before jurors arrive, or once they go home. “My big focus when I interview attorneys before the trial is, are there any ticking bombs?” Bouliane said. The judge likes to do research, too, so she also appreciates having papers in advance, said Deputy Public Defender Christiane Hipps. Bouliane encourages lawyers to e-mail case citations during trial if a “unique bend on an issue comes up.” Many criminal lawyers claim they wouldn’t know that Bouliane used to be a prosecutor just by walking into her courtroom. The judge gets marks for fairness and smarts from both sides — and extra points for personality. “She’s personable and easy-going, and yet she runs things well,” said solo Freya Horne, who was a deputy public defender assigned to the same courtroom when Bouliane was an assistant DA, and has since had trials in front of the judge. During a break from videotaping testimony last week, Bouliane came down off the bench to chat with the prosecutor and defense attorney and check whether the witness needed anything. Criminal-defense solo Mark Nicco got his first taste of her style in his first case, when he was up against the prosecutor as a law student interning in the public defender’s office. She is professional but friendly and sincere, he said. “How she treated me and my client was just extraordinary,” he said, “and she’s still like that today.” “She’s not afraid to show that she’s a nice person from the bench. A lot of judges are,” said solo James Collins. Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen, who tried cases against Bouliane and has gone before her since, says she stands out for dealing courteously with “even the unprepared lawyer.” “She’ll send them back to do their homework, and the lawyer will definitely get the message,” he said. “But she won’t necessarily go out of her way to embarrass.” The judge says “it’s important not to embarrass an attorney in front of a jury, or in front of a client.” Though it’s been almost two decades since she was the one trying the cases, she still reminds herself how it feels to be the lawyer. When she donned the robe, “I thought of all the things that judges did that I hated. “One was questioning witnesses for me, thinking I needed help.” Another was getting screamed at. “I don’t think lawyers should have to put up with bad tempers from judges,” she said. “Every once in a while I fall short of that, and I get angry at myself when I do.” Bouliane has spent her entire legal career in San Francisco courtrooms. After graduating from law school in 1980, she spent a year as a research attorney at the court. She joined the San Francisco district attorney’s office and stayed there for about five years, until she was hired as a superior court commissioner. She got a municipal court appointment in 1989 from Gov. George Deukmejian, followed by a superior court appointment from Gov. Pete Wilson three years later. Like both politicians, Bouliane was a Republican — but she became a Democrat in 1996. The GOP, she said, “seemed to be taking positions on very important issues to me that were the opposite of what I felt.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.