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COURT: Alameda County Superior APPOINTED: July 31, 1998, by Gov. Pete Wilson DATE OF BIRTH: Oct. 24, 1963 LAW SCHOOL: Boalt Hall School of Law, 1988 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None He’s a tough judge who motors through one of Oakland’s busiest criminal calendars with all the focus and charm of a drill sergeant. Yet underneath the robe of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon beats the heart of a song-and-dance man. “I think it’s always been lurking,” said Charles Martell, a friend of Reardon’s from his college days at Boalt Hall School of Law who recently saw the judge perform as Billy Crocker in Contra Costa Civic Theater’s production of “Anything Goes.” “I think the opportunity came to come on stage and he took it,” Martell said. It’s a little-known character trait that may not be readily apparent in Department 11, where Reardon presides over a steady and emotional stream of jumpsuit-clad defendants, chattering families and defense attorneys who know that patience here comes in short supply. “He doesn’t brook fools lightly,” said Oakland criminal defense attorney William DuBois, who has been in Reardon’s courtroom often. “He is stern. He is a disciplinarian-type judge,” DuBois added. “But he has a good heart.” Reardon, 41, was appointed municipal court judge on July 26, 1998. Five days later Alameda County judges voted to unify the superior and municipal courts, where Reardon held several assignments before presiding over the Oakland criminal calendar. “Department 11 is where it all starts,” Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Darryl Stallworth said. “I’ve always found him to be very prepared, very thorough and very professional.” But not everybody agreed at first. Late last year, the Alameda County public defender’s office challenged Reardon because a number of attorneys felt he wasn’t granting their clients a fair shake in court. The challenge lasted a month and ended after attorneys sat down with Reardon to voice their concerns. Some say such problems are inherent in Department 11. “Here’s a guy who’s put into a very tough position,” Oakland criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz said. “He’s fundamentally a nice, friendly, warm guy, but his job is to be kind of a hard-ass. “He’s sitting in a department that has so many cases and such a caseload. If he doesn’t push people, it’s going to fall apart.” Others say Reardon, who declined to be interviewed for this story, has changed. A deputy district attorney for Alameda County from 1988 to 1994, he came to the assignment with a prosecutorial bent, DuBois said. “I think over the time he’s been in there he’s learned to discount for that,” he added. “In some circles he’s been criticized as being a little bit harsh. But he’s consistent. He will consider the merits of each case.” Nearly every morning, Reardon can be found handling cases and defendants in his usual rapid-fire style. Last week, when murder defendant Daniel King tried to explain his concerns about his mother and their baby � without an attorney present � Reardon sternly shushed him. “That’s why I gave you a lawyer,” he said. “I don’t want you to say anything that will affect your criminal case.” A few minutes later, Public Defender Erik Swenson stood next to his client, Willis Dudley, who was accused of stealing a drill and bit set from a pharmacy. Cheekily, Swenson argued that Dudley merely intended to rid the public of cheap, imitation tools from overseas that were hurting the American economy. Reardon smiled, and jokingly replied that on such matters, Swenson “has a leg up on all of us.” Then he revoked Dudley’s probation and reinstated a previous one-year jail sentence. Finding such witticism in Reardon’s court is “a pleasure,” DuBois said. “Sometimes it’s more funny to one side than the other. But he does maintain a real fertile, facile sense of humor.” Stallworth said Reardon’s lighthearted side is often tempered by his role on the bench. “He’s got a very charming personality,” he said. “People might not see it very much now because he’s in Department 11. But he’s very witty and very humorous. He was one of the more fun-loving types in the [DA's] office.” In court, Martell said, Reardon “doesn’t put up with time wasters,” but uses humor to keep things moving. “I remember a story from early on; someone had come in who had missed a number of hearing dates,” Martell said. “He offered up as an excuse that he had to go to the dentist. Tom looks up at him and says, ‘Can a dentist send you to jail?’” At the same time, colleagues say Reardon takes his role very seriously. First District Court of Appeal Justice Carol Corrigan said this was true when Reardon worked for her as a research attorney from 1994 to 1998. Another former Alameda County prosecutor, Corrigan met Reardon when she was an instructor at Boalt Hall and he was a student. She described his work as “fabulous.” “He was a real scholar of the law and a real gifted writer,” she said. “I was very fortunate he came over.” Friends say Reardon is an active participant in the Alameda County Bar Association’s toy drive and with Loaves and Fishes, a Catholic program that provides meals to homeless people. It’s during such meals that Reardon and some friends will rip through a long list of Broadway songs, Martell said. But for all the seriousness Reardon brings to work, many say he has fun there, too. “I think as far as when he’s actually in the court dealing with people,” Martell said, “he’s as happy as a clam.” &# 151 Warren Lutz You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges at www.callaw.com/ judges or by calling 415-749-5523.

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