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COURT: Sacramento County Superior APPOINTED: Aug. 6, 2002, by Gov. Gray Davis BORN: May 23, 1964 LAW SCHOOL: Hastings College of the Law, 1990 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None SACRAMENTO � A lot of judges will tell you they never set out for a career on the bench. Not Troy Nunley. The Sacramento County Superior Court judge explains matter-of-factly that he wanted a black robe from the time he was a child growing up in San Francisco’s tough Hunters Point neighborhood. The 42-year-old jurist credits his early legal aspirations to three people: masterful TV lawyers Perry Mason and Owen Marshall and, most important, his motivating mom, a single parent of four and probation officer who suggested that, if he liked the law so much, he ought to consider becoming a judge. She provided further encouragement by introducing her young son to the people she worked with in the judicial system. “I remember going down to court and meeting several judges, and at that point I said, you know, they seem really nice. I’d like to do that. It seems like they have a lot of power,” Nunley said in a recent interview. “And I was just impressed with that.” So began a fast rise through the legal ranks for the future judge, who lawyers say handles his current criminal trial calendar with bits of humor and, sometimes, open admiration for a well-delivered argument. “He’s just a friendly guy,” said Sacramento solo W. Bradley Holmes. “He enjoys people and he enjoys good trial work.” A jury in Nunley’s courtroom recently convicted one of Holmes’ clients on all counts stemming from a home-invasion robbery and kidnapping. After the trial, Holmes said Nunley joined him in congratulating the young deputy district attorney on his win and a powerful closing argument. “He can be very complimentary to people,” Holmes said. “I’ve told other attorneys that I wouldn’t pass him by if I had a chance for a trial in front of him.” Asked if he or other lawyers had complaints about Nunley, Holmes said no, but added that some of the jurors on the recent case grumbled about the trial’s slow pace. Nothing about Nunley’s career ascent has been slow. While studying law at Hastings College of the Law, he clerked for the San Francisco district attorney’s office under Arlo Smith. He then took a job as a prosecutor in Alameda County, where “they let you take the gloves off and get dirty really early on � I loved it.” But he left after a few years to open his own criminal defense firm in San Leandro. “I had a plan,” Nunley said. “I said I wanted to be a judge. So I said, if I want to be a judge, I want to do as much with my law degree as I can. I want to practice in as many different areas as I can. I always had a notion that I wanted to be a prosecutor. I always knew that I wanted to do criminal defense. I always knew that I wanted to do federal civil rights law. I wanted to be an appellate lawyer. I wanted to write briefs, do appeals.” He did all those things, leaving his firm in 1996 to be closer to family in Sacramento, where he worked for the district attorney’s office. (He said he also inquired with the public defender’s office, but the DA returned his call faster). Nunley joined the attorney general’s criminal division in 1999, defending the state in appeals. He also helped analyze Proposition 21, the Juvenile Justice Initiative, a voter-approved measure in 2000 that toughened penalties for young offenders. “There’s no criteria for judges to do all those things, but it was just something I wanted to do,” he said. Deputy District Attorney Helena Gweon, who’s known Nunley since he worked in the Sacramento DA’s office, said his prosecutor’s credentials don’t show in the courtroom. “There are certain judges, you say, ‘Yeah, he was a prosecutor.’ But I don’t get that with him,” she said. One part of Nunley’s past that does come through from the bench is his appreciation for writing. Nunley was an English major at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. “I prefer attorneys write more,” he said. “I like to see the written [points and authorities] � It makes your job easier as a judge as opposed to having an attorney argue before you who doesn’t have the readily available case cites to support their argument.” The judge with the lifelong plan insists he’s not seeking a judicial promotion, although he oversees a relatively high-profile calendar in the court and makes public appearances at schools and other venues to promote the court’s work. “I got there. I got to where I want to be,” Nunley said. “This job met my expectations and exceeded them and I love what I do. So I can’t say I’m ready to move on to the next thing. For me there is no next thing.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges here or by calling 415-749-5523.

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