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CARVILL’S BIG ON TO-DO LISTS COURT: Alameda County Superior APPOINTED: Nov. 7, 2003, by Gov. Gray Davis BORN: April 8, 1949 LAW SCHOOL: Harvard Law School, 1974 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None Very little about Wynne Carvill suggests that the Alameda County Superior Court judge rides a hog. Standing in the office of his North Berkeley, Craftsman-style home, beside a portrait of a stone-faced ancestor, you could easily picture the clean-cut judge as the Harvard Law School student he was some 30 years ago. Though time has bleached his thick, evenly parted hair, his youthful eyes light up during conversation. And it’s not hard to imagine him spending 25-plus years at the firm now known as Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner. But don’t judge this book by its cover. After his wife Julie took him along for scooter-driving lessons, the 57-year-old Carvill cast aside his distaste for motorcycle engine noise and soon found himself on top of a Harley-Davidson, powering his way up the San Leandro hills last year to preside over court hearings twice a week at the John George Psychiatric Pavilion. “You actually look forward to riding to and from work, rather than it being a hassle,” Carvill said. Even some close friends were caught off-guard by Carvill’s newest mode of transportation. “He’s a pretty private guy � not somebody who really flaunts himself, [though] it would be funny to picture him in leathers,” said Thomas McInerney, a partner in Thelen’s San Francisco offices who worked with Carvill. Perhaps Carvill’s spontaneity was inspired by his shift to the bench � a move that surprised another former colleague from the firm. “He’d risen high in the firm, was doing well, and it was perfectly plain to everybody and his brother that he was going to make more money [at Thelen],” said Paul Haerle, a justice on the First District Court of Appeal. After being appointed in November 2003 and working arraignments and criminal law and motion, among other assignments, Carvill especially enjoyed presiding over civil bench trials last year at the Berkeley courthouse. More recently, he was dealt a family court post. The change prompted some people to offer him condolences, he said. But so far, Carvill said, family court has been “a very pleasant surprise.” “I’ve made it clear that in my 20 years � and I expect to spend 20 years on the bench � I want to do every assignment,” he added. Overall, “I really enjoy being a judge. It has almost all of the positives of being a lawyer and none of the negatives,” said Carvill, who admits that he didn’t particularly like the administrative responsibilities he held during about a dozen years as general counsel at Thelen. “I don’t go out and market anything. I don’t have to decide partner compensation and then hear complaints about partner compensation.” His buoyant approach has already made an impact on the family law bar, a group that’s not always been shy about butting heads with unpopular judges. “You want a judge who wants to be in your department. And from what I’ve heard, he welcomed the appointment more than most people,” said Berkeley solo Jane Kaplan. Carvill tries to start every family court hearing by getting the parties to agree on an agenda for the day. That way he thinks he can more efficiently move complex disagreements toward a resolution. During a recent court appearance, though, Carvill demonstrated that he doesn’t hesitate to spend as much time on an issue as he deems necessary: He devoted a full hour to a 5-year-old custody dispute, much more time than what one lawyer had anticipated. As Carvill had been pushing both parties to identify a family member or friend who could serve as a supervisor for custody visits, Linda Cox-Cooper, representing the woman who petitioned for child custody, raised an issue about unpaid child support. Carvill quickly interjected. “Is that before me now?” he asked. “No, your honor, it’s not.” “Okay, then,” Carvill replied tersely. “There’s no point bringing it up.” Following the hearing, Cox-Cooper said she was initially concerned that the judge didn’t understand why she wanted the pro per respondent to turn over his income and expenses to the court. By the end of the hearing, however, Carvill had casually brokered a deal that appeared to leave both sides satisfied. He agreed to let the respondent appear by phone for a court hearing next month � as he requested � as long as he produced his financials ahead of time. On balance, Cox-Cooper had mostly positive things to say about her first appearance in front of Carvill. “I like his approach. I like his dialogue,” said the Oakland solo. Perhaps most importantly, she said, “I didn’t walk away with a confused client. There are some times you take a client in court, and you spend more time trying to explain what the judge said.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges here or by calling 415-749-5406. Due to a reporting error, a March 20 Court Watch item about a budget agreement between the governor and chief justice incorrectly stated that a legislative committee chairman told judicial officials to return with specifics on plans to spend an additional $16.7 million allocated by the governor. Actually, the chairman told the Department of Finance, the governor’s budget-writing agency, to justify its approval of the spending proposals already submitted by the judiciary. We regret the error.

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