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COURT: Alameda County Superior ELECTED: Nov. 7, 2006 BORN: Dec. 13, 1952 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law, 1992 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None On a recent morning in Judge Sandra Bean’s courtroom, it took a few tries for pro per petitioner Ronald Shelby to understand what he needed in order to have his arrest records from a 2001 battery destroyed. “You need to show me good cause,” said Bean, explaining that he had the burden of proving police had no reason to arrest him. Shelby appeared confused and said he didn’t even recall the arrest. So Bean asked him if he wanted to speak to an attorney and scheduled another court appearance for a month later. But before he left, she explained a third time: “You have to show there was no factual basis for the arrest. … Good luck.” In Department 115 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, where Bean handles felony pretrials and law and motion, pro pers like Shelby are a common occurrence. People who may have a criminal record but are requesting their arrest records be sealed go before Bean. And according to both prosecutors and defense attorneys who spend much time there, Bean is exactly what those people need. “I’ve seen defendants � get upset and want to start talking about all sorts of different issues in their cases,” said Deputy District Attorney Erin Loback. “She gives them her ear for a minute,” and then explains the situation in a way anybody could understand, Loback said. It’s only been a year since Bean took the bench after a close election race against Dennis Hayashi in 2006, but she already has proven her judicial and criminal smarts and figured out an efficient, user-friendly way to manage her sometimes traffic-filled courtroom. In the mornings she rules on various legal motions and conducts preliminary hearings, and in the afternoons she takes plea bargains. On one Monday early last month, she presided over more than 100 matters. In her early days on the bench, she says, she researched criminal issues all the time. Unlike many other judges who are former prosecutors, Bean had spent a majority of her 15-year legal career in civil litigation, most recently with a six-year stint at the Alameda county counsel’s office. “She’s working real hard to learn,” said Deputy Public Defender Mark Smallen. “She’s a soldier. I don’t think she loves this assignment. I don’t think anybody should.” A North Carolina native, Bean hadn’t planned on becoming a lawyer until her 30s, as she was working toward a Ph.D. in neuromuscular integration at UC-Berkeley in the 1980s. By then, she had already earned a master’s degree in physical education; Bean says she had initially planned on becoming an athletic director at a university. Pamela Ortiz, a defense attorney from the two-person Oakland firm Ortiz Law Corp., recalled a lengthy preliminary hearing in late summer that lasted a few days, where her client was accused of being an accessory to a burglary. Her client had been accused of throwing some clothing over a balcony, which the prosecution argued provided a change of clothes for burglars fleeing the scene of the crime. Bean ultimately ruled there was enough evidence to move the case forward, but only after taking another session to review her notes and the defense’s arguments, Ortiz recalled. “I appreciated that,” Ortiz said. “That’s not often what happens, particularly in a preliminary hearing, because the burden of proof [for the prosecution] is so low.” But from Bean’s point of view, taking a fresh approach on every case is simply part of her job, as well as her personality. “It’s very difficult as a judge to be very different than what you are in your own personality,” she said. “Sometimes, I think that I get a little bit too chatty,” she added. Bean acknowledges that she tends to have a more informal style in the courtroom than some judges, but she believes judges who keep a formal demeanor on the bench have good reason. According to the lawyers in her court, though, her flexibility makes it a pleasure to work in her department. For example, if the clock strikes noon and the prosecutor, defense attorney and perhaps a witness are ready for a case, Bean allows a hearing to move into the lunch hour as long as it is OK with her staff, according to Loback. “Most judges will say, ‘Well, let’s break for lunch,’” Loback said. “I’ve never seen another judge do that.” For a complete list of available profiles, go to http://www.law.com/jsp/ca/judicialprofiles.jsp.

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