Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
COURT: San Mateo County Superior APPOINTED: Elevated through trial court unification, June 1998 BORN: Aug. 8, 1946 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law, 1973 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board commissioner, 1988-1990; San Mateo County Municipal Court, 1991-1998 When Superior Court Judge Richard Livermore entered his South San Francisco courtroom one morning last week, he didn’t sit down after the audience rose to its feet. Instead, he remained standing to honor the dozen or so men and women in that day’s drug court proceedings. For the first time in his 12 years on that court, he said, all of the participants had tested negative for drug use since their last appearance and hadn’t done anything that could hurt their progress toward staying clean and sober. “There’s just something good about today,” he joyfully told the small crowd, “and I’m going to remember it for a long time.” Livermore, a youthful-looking 61, has handled every kind of caseload imaginable in his nearly 17 years on the San Mateo County municipal and superior court benches. But his zeal for drug court shines through. “I try to strike a balance between being the disciplinarian and the cheerleader,” said Livermore, the supervising judge of the county’s northern courthouse. “So many of these people have been beat up by life � and when they come to court, they are often expecting to get beat up again.” “The positive strokes really work,” he added. “And so do the negative ones.” Livermore was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1991, after a long career as a professional neutral. He was one of the earliest pioneers of mediation, having served from 1977 to 1980 as the first projects manager for RESOLVE Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that specializes in environmental dispute resolution. When the organization went in the direction of a think tank, Livermore said, he left to start his own mediation firm � R.C. Livermore & Co. in Menlo Park � to handle both environmental and commercial disputes. It helped that along with his law license, Livermore had obtained a master’s degree in urban planning from San Jose State University in 1975 and had served a short stint as the deputy to the planning director for Santa Cruz County. He even worked for a couple of years as an intern for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington. Dispute resolution was in its infancy at the time, Livermore said, and he felt he was “terrible” at it in the beginning. “In many cases,” he said, “you are building the mountain while climbing it.” Livermore apparently got better, building a practice that lasted until 1988, and for a short time he headed up the Northern California office of Endispute, before its merger with JAMS. Being a good mediator, he said, requires the ability to know when to give up on a case. “If you’re a mediator in a situation where your presence isn’t helping any longer, you’ve got to know that,” Livermore said. “A lot of times you say, ‘We’ll try this for a period of time and if we can get an agreement, we will. But if we can’t, we’re going to walk away from the table.’” Livermore left the practice only when Deukmejian tapped him to become a commissioner on the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. That was good training for Livermore, because under state law a WCAB commissioner is equivalent to a judge. “We reviewed several thousand trial court decisions,” he said, “and were appealable directly to the state court of appeal.” Judging came naturally to him, Livermore said, because being a mediator all those years required him to “get the learning curve up quickly.” And he truly loves the ability to do right by people. “That’s exciting to me,” he said, “trying always to be [in] the place where people have the perception and reality of due process and equal protection, and at the same time recognizing that because of the nature of humanity, each case is different.” Attorneys who appear before him say they’re impressed by his demeanor and hard-working nature. Albert Martin, a San Mateo solo practitioner, called working with Livermore a “pleasant experience” even though he very recently lost a breach-of-contract case in front of the judge. “He worked hard,” Martin said. “We would stay until 7 or 8 o’clock at night and be back in court by 8 the next morning. He would work with us and actually crack the books � researching issues together.” San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Richard Good, who has worked in drug court the last eight months, said the judge shows interest in the plight of every participant and uses dire examples to keep them on the straight and narrow. “He might give an example of [a person] who overdosed and died to put the fear of God into somebody,” Good said. Even San Francisco solo practitioner Ian Loveseth, a grizzled and pony-tailed lawyer with a no-nonsense attitude, speaks highly of Livermore. He commended him last week for getting one of his more difficult clients into a treatment setting even though she technically didn’t meet the requirements. “He encouraged all the people to work with her and give her one more chance,” Loveseth said. “She walked out of there on cloud nine.” So did one other young woman that day last week. Beaming, she held up a certificate showing she had completed a drug program. “Well, how about that!” Livermore all but shouted. “Hallelujah!” He rewarded her by assuring her that he was getting her a discounted bus pass to help her get around. “Everyone’s getting A’s this morning,” Livermore said. “That’s pretty good.” For a complete list of available profiles, go to http://www.law.com/jsp/ca/judicialprofiles.jsp

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.