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COURT: Contra Costa County Superior APPOINTED: Nov. 11, 2003, by Gov. Gray Davis BORN: Apr. 11, 1948 LAW SCHOOL: Harvard Law School, 1972 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: None Barry Goode says that on Fridays, when next week’s cases have all been delivered for him to read, rectangular file buckets cover just about every flat surface in his chambers. “What we really need are one or two more judges or bench officers to make this a more manageable workload,” the fifth-year Contra Costa County Superior Court judge said. But lawyers say that rather than complaining about the load, Goode has thrown himself at learning the subtle nuances of his cases by day and sometimes burning the midnight oil if it helps to broker a settlement. Walnut Creek solo Thomas Wolfrum said he worked with Goode until 11 p.m. one night to hammer out an agreement in a difficult case. Two days later, Wolfrum said, the judge stayed with him until 11:30 p.m. to hash out a settlement in a separate case. “That’s unheard of in family law. But settling those two cases probably avoided eight court days at trial,” Wolfrum said. On a recent Tuesday morning, balancing efficiency with unfaltering patience, Goode handled a dozen short-cause hearings � including child custody disputes, marriage dissolutions and at least one request for a domestic violence restraining order � lasting about 20 minutes each. One of his assets is nonverbal communication. While listening to arguments, Goode was often leaning forward in his seat and resting his elbows on the desk with both hands cupped in front of his mouth. When he went to speak, he gently held out both palms, signaling it was his turn to have a say. And more than once that morning, Goode sounded like the voice of reason. One set of parties dug in to fight over whether a court document should be sent through the mail or delivered, at greater expense, by a process server. The judge advised the feuding parties to visit the library across the street, make a photocopy and hand over the document right there. Problem solved. Later, a woman and her attorney argued to revise a mediated settlement, which said weekend visitations could not be interrupted unless the hosting parent had agreed first � in writing. The mom’s attorney, Bruce Zelis, tried to argue that the authorization wasn’t necessary and might lead to more disagreement between the parents of the 15-year-old. The judge asked both parents if they use computers and suggested a simple, more practical form of communication: e-mail. But Zelis didn’t think that would be so effective, either. “I could see the problems fraught with that. [One parent might say,] ‘I wasn’t in front of my computer,’” he said later that week. A decade ago, Goode was nominated by then-President Clinton for a seat on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but the Republican-led Senate blocked his nomination, and dozens of others, and he never received a hearing or vote. During that time, Goode had a commercial litigation practice at what was then McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. He was co-founder of the environmental litigation practice there. Goode then went to Sacramento, where he served as legal affairs secretary to former Gov. Gray Davis from 2001 until his 2003 appointment to the bench, right before Davis handed the office over to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He spent his first few years handling arraignments and other criminal proceedings along with some limited-jurisdiction civil matters in the Richmond courthouse before moving to family law. San Ramon attorney Donal “Casey” Cummins said Goode stepped into the supervising judge’s role after the last supervising judge, Barry Baskin, pushed through some much-needed, though unpopular, changes. For example, Cummins said, Baskin started issuing tentative rulings in some cases and required attorneys to formally contest the tentative if they wanted to make arguments in court the next day. Some of Baskin’s decisions might have made Goode’s job a little easier. While taking nothing away from Goode � Cummins said Goode is “one of the best” family law judges he has seen in almost 40 years � the Cummins & Holmes partner said “a lot of the sticking points have been worked out of the system.” Now, Goode can focus more on reducing the workload for all judicial officers in family court. Before state court budget cuts delayed funding for 50 new state court judgeships that would have come this summer, Presiding Judge Terence Bruiniers, himself a former family law judge, had said the next new position in Contra Costa County would be allotted to family court. Goode agreed with that plan: “I think if you have a rational workload, this should be a very desirable assignment.” For a complete list of available profiles, go to

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