X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
COURT: San Francisco Superior Court APPOINTED: April 17, 2000 DATE OF BIRTH: Jan. 28, 1943 LAW SCHOOL: Hastings College of the Law, 1969 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None After more than two years, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney admits that his assignment in juvenile court has worn on him. “I have found it exhilarating and challenging and rewarding,” the judge said in a recent interview. But, he added, “It’s kind of a cumulative emotional process, and I think it just adds up over time. And I think that after a while, you start to recognize that there’s only so much you can do.” Frustration at the Youth Guidance Center seems common, said Deputy Public Defender Jean Amabile. “I think that Judge Mahoney has confronted, along with every other judge that has come to juvenile, the problems with the juvenile justice system.” Mahoney, who handles juvenile delinquency cases for accused repeat offenders, noted that his role now is more expansive than his former assignments in criminal court. Court rules urge juvenile court judges to spend time educating the community and investigating treatment options. Plus, in juvenile court, “you are the judge and the jury,” said Mahoney, a former civil litigator. “And in addition to that, you have extraordinary discretion as to dispositions and sentencing.” San Francisco solo Mark Murray said Mahoney seems to want to improve the circumstances of children in the system. “I find that he’s very stringent on what we call the jurisdictional phase of, ‘Did the child commit or not commit a petty theft, or a threat or a battery,’” Murray said. “But I find him to have a lot of latitude when it comes to creating a plan for the child.” Assistant DA Todd Barrett says Mahoney particularly stresses education. “One of the statistics that Judge Mahoney cites all the time is that 95 percent of the people who are in state prison don’t have a GED or a high school diploma.” Though the court can maintain jurisdiction until age 21 or 25, depending on the offense, probation officers sometimes recommend terminating probation once a minor has turned 18 and has exhausted available services, Barrett said. “Mahoney’s position is basically, ‘I’m trying to keep you from going to state prison � and I will keep you on probation for [school] alone if I have to.’” Lisa DewBerry, a criminal defense solo and former deputy public defender, recalls a case in which her client had turned 18, but remained steadfast in his refusal to go to school. “I thought the kid should have been off probation a long time ago.” But she now says Mahoney was right; after her client got arrested as an adult, he got back on track and into school. “My feeling is, he’s really trying to do what’s in those kids’ best interest,” she said. Another time, she noted, one of her clients asked to speak to the judge privately, and “he talked to the kid for 45 minutes.” “Whether you agree with his approach or not,” DewBerry said, “you can’t say he doesn’t know these kids.” Mahoney is generally approachable and attentive, say some of the attorneys who’ve appeared before him. Walter Aldridge, who supervises the district attorney’s six-lawyer juvenile division, has an eye on every prosecution that goes through Mahoney’s courtroom. He says the judge listens well, considers all sides and strikes a balance between rehabilitation and public safety. “That does not mean that I agree with him all the time because I certainly do not,” Aldridge said. “My lawyers do not come down to me and say that they’re always happy with his decisions. But I’ve never heard anyone out of my lawyers believe that he was unfair.” Aldridge also says Mahoney shows a lot of patience, a trait that he speculates could be viewed two ways. While the prosecutor said he considers it a plus, “One could make the argument that he lets people talk too much.” Amabile, the deputy public defender, also observed Mahoney’s patience, adding that he keeps a moderate pace. “He has good judgment about how much time something is going to take.” Mahoney, for his part, advises that lawyers make sure to listen themselves. “And talk less rather than more. I think those are the two biggest failings.” Mahoney spent his career leading up to the bench in the civil arena. After law school, he passed about three years working on antitrust litigation at Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn (now Arent Fox). Then he moved on to Cooley Godward’s San Francisco and Palo Alto offices, where he spent about two decades and devoted the bulk of his time to defending securities class actions. In 1992 he moved to the public sector, when then-City Attorney Louise Renne picked him to be her office’s chief trial deputy. In 2000, he became then-Gov. Gray Davis’ first appointment to the San Francisco bench. His first stop was the criminal courthouse, where he held a variety of assignments for nearly three years. Then, in early 2003, he moved over to juvenile hall. Next, Mahoney says he’s interested in moving to the civil courthouse. “I was really pleased to be doing something different,” the judge said. “But I think after being away from it for five years, I’m ready to go back to it.” Past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges can be ordered on www.callaw.com or by calling 415-749-5523.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* 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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.