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SAN JOSE — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed three Democrats to superior court seats Tuesday, including an attorney specializing in environmental law who will replace William Danser, who was ousted from Santa Clara County Superior Court after a ticket-fixing scandal. The appointment of Frank Bondonno comes more than a year after Danser was thrown off the bench after being convicted on felony obstruction of justice charges. Bondonno will be joined on the Santa Clara County bench by Carol Overton, a deputy city attorney for San Jose for the past 18 years. Elizabeth Lee, a lawyer with the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco, also was appointed Tuesday to the San Mateo County Superior Court bench. Bondonno, a San Jose lawyer with more than 32 years of trial experience, mostly in environmental law, said he plans to start his new job within the next two months. A 63-year-old resident of Los Gatos, he has been an attorney with Popelka Allard since 1972, serving as managing partner since 1997. Reached at his office by phone Tuesday, Bondonno said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be moving into Danser’s courtroom and taking over his assignments or if he will start with a clean slate. “I promise you I will do everything I can to conduct myself” in a professional manner, Bondonno said. He said was pleased to see that the governor didn’t make a partisan decision when making his judge appointments. “I am not a very partisan soul,” Bondonno said, adding that he thought he would be automatically overlooked because he is a Democrat. A graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, Bondonno was a deputy district attorney for a year before moving into private practice. Overton will replace Charles Hayden, who has retired from the Santa Clara County bench. A resident of San Jose and a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, Overton was a Santa Clara public defender before moving into the city attorney’s office. City Attorney Rick Doyle said Tuesday that Overton is “an excellent trial attorney.” “She is going to be missed, but this is a very well-deserved appointment,” he said. Rounding out Schwarzenegger’s judicial appointments is Lee, 47, who has been with the U.S. attorney’s office since 1991, serving as deputy chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force. She replaces Margaret Kemp, who has retired. A graduate of Columbia Law School, Lee was an associate at Marron, Reid & Sheehy from 1988 to 1990. She also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., for three years. Superior court judges earn $149,160 per year.

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