Judicial Archer

Here are the answers, transcribed from a face to face interview on 3/13/10

New reader question: Please explain your position on private property rights.

In my view the judicial perspective of property rights emanates from and is engrained in the Unites States Constitution. That’s part of the foundation of property rights. As history has developed the states and local governments have intervened into the use of property, we’ve seen zoning ordinances and various regulations for the use of property and for public health and safety. These are also largely engrained in our society. I believe there are property rights. I also believe there are balances, just regulations and ordinances upheld by law. I think one also has to realize the legislature some time ago enacted the Environmental Quality Act that, frankly, if used correctly, is a just tool to obtain public input into development projects, and for planning agencies to pass on projects in a rational manner, for the betterment of the social and physical environment. I’ve been involved with the application of CEQA. I’ve represented a public agency regarding CEQA responsibility. I’ve been on the other side of the issue, representing someone regarding whether adverse environmental effects were being mitigated. (Land use decisions) have to be based on law.

What kinds of law have you practiced, or positions have you held?

I’ve been an active, practicing attorney for 35 years. I’ve acted as a court appointed arbitrator. I’ve conducted settlement conferences for the court. I’ve conducted private mediations, a job I truly love because you can think outside the box and do problem solving. Without boasting, I’m proud to say I have achieved the highest rating by Martindale Hubbard for legal skills and ethical standards based on peer rating. Like many, I cut me teeth on writing indigent appellant briefs, conflict public defender appointments, and doing family law. I practiced family and criminal law for about 16 years. I also emphasize real property, real estate law, construction law and civil litigation. I represent some public utility districts, and am familiar with water law, which is a fascinating body of law.

Do you believe that social science evidence substantiates the belief that all persons receive equal justice in court proceedings?
I don’t know what body of social science evidence you refer to so I can’t comment on that. Do I think everyone receives equal justice? I think it would be naïve to say yes. There are inequities that happen in life. My goal and my commitment is to make sure that this is not the case in this county. It is part of the integrity that any judge must have to assure that there is equality in how justice is applied. It’s so ingrained in our beliefs and constitution that if justice waivers then people lose their trust in a judge. I don’t want to suffer that. .



What would you use as determinants or criteria in setting bail?

Assuming someone has the right to bail, you look at things like the nature and gravity of the offense, are there victims, is there a likelihood that the person is going to perpetrate further crimes, to the victims or the public at large. For example, someone who has five DUIs and is charged with felony DUI with injury is a danger to the public. Is the defendant a flight risk? You look for contacts in the community, how long they’ve lived in the community, are they employed and other factors.

Tell us your view on the war on drugs, its relative effectiveness as a social policy, its long term effects on the criminal justice system, the prison system, and the underclass.

That’s a huge question, with multiple parts… I would answer this way: we have an over-medicated society, both prescriptive medication as well as illegal substances. Substance abuse increases the likelihood and incidence of crime. Substance abuse is pervasive, and it’s not just in the urban communities, it’s throughout each of the counties. One can certainly see it here in Sierra County. The effects on individuals are overwhelming, there’s a burden on law enforcement, the courts, ultimately a burden on the state prison system. Those are realities that most of us are aware of.

Recently in California there have been increased efforts to deny gun ownership or to deny gun possession to citizens after some kinds of court actions. Where do you stand on gun ownership?

A judge is not a lawmaker. That has to be left to the legislative process. The Constitution does allow the right to keep and maintain firearms. There are laws that in my view appropriately restrict the use of firearms. There is a balance to be struck, but when it comes to application of the law, I would apply it as it exists.

Where do you stand on medical cannabis? Do you use medical cannabis, and if not, would you, if you had a condition for which it brought more relief than chemical drugs?

Medical marijuana is on the books, and therefore it is a law that should be upheld in the fullest. If the legislature or the people legalize marijuana, that is the law I would follow. I’m fortunate that I don’t use any prescriptive medication, or, certainly, cannabis. I have no idea when or if I might have as prescriptive need, or what the outcome would be.

Do you drink alcohol?

What social class would you say you are? What social class would you say your family was growing up?

My father was a small businessman, I’ve been a small businessman.  I'm middle class. 

Do you have children?
My wife and I have a combined family. We’ve been married 13 years. We have 3 adult boys who make us proud. We are blessed with three grandchildren.

Have you ever been divorced?


Have you ever been in foster care?
No, I was fortunate to have a close family.

Were either of your parents ever incarcerated?

What family law experience do you have?

I have experience representing parties in dissolution proceedings. There was a lot of problem solving. I’ve done adoptions. I’ve been involved with restraining orders against harassment. There have been a lot of those things I’ve addressed in my practice.


What is your position on Court Appointed Special Advocates for children?
I have read about CASA, it is a wonderful idea, certainly I believe there are times when there needs to be intervention in children’s lives to lessen trauma. The court needs to have the best understanding of what is in the best interest of children.

How well do you understand the letter, application, and consequence of federal laws governing child welfare?

I haven’t had recent experience with federal laws involving those concerns. As judges, if we don’t have answers, we use our research tools. We’re dealing with state laws usually

Please define what you think an "injury" on a person is.

Well, obviously there’s physical injury. The law also acknowledges mental and emotional injury to a person. There are offenses to the right of privacy or reputation. So there are non-physical types of injury that are recognized in the law as well as physical.

What experience do you have with rural life?

(chuckles) Well, when I get done here, I’m going to go back, and I’m going to clean our barn. (laughter) I let the horses in the evening, and I turn them out in the morning. I grew up in the East Bay Area; it was actually in between Orinda- Lafayette. When I was young, most of the area where I lived was cattle land and orchards, and I had horses. I had the joy of being young and being able to go barefoot. I’ve lived in the Sierras for a long time. I’ve lived in the county for over ten years. I’ve worked on cattle ranches and on farm operations. I enjoy and love the rural way of life.

Do you believe rural culture is different from urban culture?
Certainly. There’s no doubt about it. There are a lot of things about urban culture that are wonderful, but it is a different culture. I think everybody knows that.

How do you believe criminal justice in rural areas and criminal justice in urban areas might be different?

Well, I think there’s the obvious answer that the force of numbers and volume are not here. The case load that the courts face in urban communities is far more significant. In urban communities, the criminal justice system is probably more anonymous. We have a small community. We have a different level of contact here. What happens in our community, knowledge of people in our community, knowledge of the effects of what people may do in our community is far more pervasive than you would find in the cities. I think that probably, to a degree, the individual is less likely to be churned here than by a large criminal justice system.

One of the differences that we’re lucky to have in this county is the drug court, which is a very positive opportunity to deflect people away from state prison. The process involves multiple departments: Department of Health, Probation, the Court, CPS even, to try to get people back on track. That is a very difficult thing to do in a larger county. In this county, that’s the kind of thing that helps bring people through, and puts them out the other side in a positive fashion. Let’s say hopefully rehabilitated, without being naïve about what that might mean. That is something we have that’s unique, and very positive.


How well do you know Sierra County?
My wife and I have been here for ten years.

How do you think crime in Sierra County is influenced by endemic poverty?

Well, I’m not sure what one means, what the definition of endemic poverty is as applies to Sierra County. Let’s face it, I think that lack of employment leads to economic desperation, and economic desperation at times leads to crime, particularly theft

How do you think poverty effects being a parent?

It depends on the tools and resources the parent has. I don’t think one needs to be rich in order to raise children appropriately. The key is involvement in your kids’ lives, involvement in youth. It depends on the effects of poverty on the parent. It’s so broad, I wouldn’t know how to answer that. If the parent’s neglected because of poverty from being a good parent, then obviously there’s an effect. But I’ve known a lot of people who didn’t have a lot of resources, but they were very loving and did wonderful things with their children.

What does the 1st Amendment protect?
Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free assembly, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

What does the 2nd Amendment protect?
The second amendment is the right to keep and bear arms.

What does the 4th Amendment protect?
That refers to unlawful searches and seizures, and requirements of search warrants.

What does the 5th Amendment protect?
Due process of law. That is in both the context of criminal proceedings as well as, for instance, imminent domain. You can’t do a taking without due process. It also involves the right against self-incrimination.

From where do individual liberties spring?
They come from the Bill of Rights

From where does the power of the government spring?
The Constitution.























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