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AFFILIATION: ADR Services BORN: Nov. 20, 1939 LAW SCHOOL: Lincoln University Law School, 1967 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: San Francisco Superior Court; pro tem First District Court of Appeal No one pays Alfred Chiantelli to be gentle. “He’s very forceful,” said John Winer, an Oakland plaintiff lawyer who’s paid the mediator � and former San Francisco Superior Court presiding judge � to push him around about a half-dozen times over the past few years. “He’s from San Francisco, but I’d swear he’s from New Jersey.” A San Francisco native � he grew up in North Beach and his Italian immigrant grandparents survived the 1906 quake � Chiantelli became known during his years as a trial and settlement judge for being blunt, effective and likable. Chiantelli is a Republican who remains active in San Francisco’s Democratic Party circles (“An elephant who sometimes makes an ass of himself,” he says). He has close friends in state and local politics, and in the plaintiff and defense bars. In 2002, Chiantelli left the bench to join ADR Services, where he’s developed a healthy body of work largely consisting of personal injury, employment and toxic tort work, along with federal and state court appointments to handle discovery in complex cases. “He has a hands-on, folksy approach,” said James Butler, a partner at the Veen Firm who represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases. “In the cases where he’s been successful, he uses his warm disposition and calculating approach to get the parties to reach a settlement that he thinks is appropriate.” Another plaintiff lawyer, asbestos specialist Gilbert Purcell of Brayton Purcell, said Chiantelli’s style stands in contrast to other neutrals, who he says are “sterile and businesslike and not very personable.” Chiantelli, by contrast, “always has wonderful stories about what’s going on in his personal life, and weaves that into his mediation,” Purcell said. That style is part personality � Chiantelli takes obvious pleasure in a self-deprecating story or a good joke � and part carefully cultivated strategy developed over the years as a settlement judge. Since he’s left the bench, much of Chiantelli’s work as a neutral has come from attorneys who got to know him as a jurist. Winer, for example, had Chiantelli as both a trial and settlement judge in San Francisco Superior Court, and said the mediator’s judicial expertise gives his opinions particular gravity. And as a San Francisco deputy district attorney, Chiantelli claims to have tried 126 cases. Chiantelli agrees that his experience is important in establishing credibility. “A lot of these people who come to mediation want an evaluative opinion, and they want it to come from a judge,” Chiantelli said. Now in his fourth year as a mediator, Chiantelli said he’s gained confidence giving strong opinions and reading litigants to figure out what they need to hear to settle a case. “When I started mediating, I sat on my hands, I talked about principles, and ‘where do you want to be in five years,’” he said. “Finally, I got a plaintiff lawyer who took me aside. He said, ‘Judge, when I filed the case, all I had was my plaintiff’s version of the facts,’” Chiantelli said. Those facts didn’t hold up, and that’s why the plaintiff lawyer sought mediation. “He said, ‘We need you to tell my client that he’s got a shitty case,’” Chiantelli said. Now, “if I don’t believe a plaintiff or defendant, I’ll tell him,” the judge added. Lawyers for both sides said they come to Chiantelli specifically for such direct opinions. “He’s no nonsense and easy to work with,” said Michael Lucey, a partner at Gordon & Rees who represents employers, and has brought several cases to Chiantelli. He particularly likes to bring him in on cases filed in San Francisco Superior Court. “He knows the judges and the jurors,” Lucey said. At $375 an hour, Chiantelli’s rates are far below what retired judges with comparable experience usually charge. That allows him to see a wide range of business and to keep busy. During April he’s been booked every day, often for two sessions on weekdays and one on Saturday. Chiantelli has carved out a smart niche for himself, Butler said. He’s well-liked by plaintiff lawyers and can get the approval of defense lawyers hired by insurance companies seeking to keep costs down. “He’s perspicacious as a business man, and has priced his services to where, on a relative scale, he looks like a bargain to the defense,” Butler said. The sometimes forceful style that Chiantelli developed as a judge, Butler said, can be difficult to translate to private mediation, where a neutral works at the pleasure of the litigants. “When you don’t have a bailiff and you don’t have a gavel, you have to use your intellect, your charm and your moxie,” he said. Chiantelli’s been able to do that with great success, Butler said. But he added, in some cases, he would have liked to have seen Chiantelli lean a bit harder on insurance providers who don’t want to pay up. “It has been my experience that when the carrier balks at what it’s worth, he will end the process right there, whereas other mediators might be more persistent,” he said. Overall, though, Butler agreed with other lawyers who say Chiantelli is a generally effective mediator who clearly enjoys his job. “Would I go back to him?” Butler asked. “Oh yeah, in a second.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges here or by calling 415-749-5523.

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