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CRIMINAL JUDGE HEADED TO CIVIL, IN BATTLE WITH EX-PARTNER Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo is nearing his first civil trial as a court officer, but this can’t be how he envisioned it happening. Grillo, who handles misdemeanor trials in the Wiley Manuel courthouse, has been feuding for months with former law partner Cheryl Stevens over the dissolution of their Oakland practice. Grillo & Stevens began accepting clients in 1994 and continued until Grillo’s appointment in November 2003. After withdrawing from the firm, Grillo claimed Stevens refused to pay his 60 percent share of the firm’s assets � about $44,000. In a complaint filed last November, Grillo also accused Stevens of leaving him on the hook for unpaid debt. Stevens’ conduct was “willful, wanton, malicious and oppressive � with the intent to defraud,” Grillo charged in the complaint. Stevens denied wrongdoing in her answer to the suit, which she termed “frivolous and vexatious.” Oddly enough, this rancorous dispute may have never reached the courthouse were it not for Citibank’s attempt to collect $26,000 for loans that came due last March. Grillo filed his suit against Stevens as a cross-complaint in the Citibank action. Stevens, who is acting as her own attorney, said she hopes to reach a settlement before trial. So did Grillo’s lawyer, San Francisco attorney Daniel Conrad. “Nobody wants to be in litigation,” he said. But already, the feud between the former partners has dragged on twice as long as the Citibank dispute. The bank dismissed its case against Grillo and reached a settlement with Stevens in December. “It was an amicable termination of their partnership [three years ago],” Conrad said. “Unfortunately, Ms. Stevens didn’t pay Judge Grillo, and that changed his views.” Retired Judge John Anton was assigned to mediate the case, Citibank v. Grillo & Stevens, RG05235128, which is set to go to trial in December.

Matthew Hirsch

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