2014 Installation & Awards Dinner – Recipients Announced

VCBA_Invite_FINAL-1

David L. Shain

 

has been chosen as the recipient of the

2014 Ben E. Nordman Public Service Award

Deborah A. Perkins &

Michael D. Sudman

have been selected as recipients of the

James D. Loebl VCBA/VLSP, Inc. Public Service Award

 

To RSVP for the Annual Dinner which is being held at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach on November 15, 2014, you may do so by visiting our calendar page or e-mailing bar@vcba.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exec’s Dot…Dot…Dot…

By now most of you have heard our Emeritus Attorney extraordinaire, Verna Kagan, died at 1 a.m. Saturday morning,  September 6 , a t Community Memorial in Ventura. Her tribute was held September 16 at Temple Beth Torah with Rabbi Lisa Hochberg Miller facilitating. Carmen Ramírez spoke on  behalf of the bar.Verna was the face and brand of the VLSP, Inc., the bar’s cherished Pro Bono Program. In many, many ways, Verna will be irreplaceable. Please read Herman’s (Verna’s husband of 53 years) poem inside this volume of CITATIONS. … Told by an Indiana judge that a local court rule requires lawyers to wear socks, Todd Glickfield resisted. “I hate socks,” he told the Blackford Circuit Judge Dean Young, who at first saw to it that the attorney was privately advised during a break about the need to don the footwear. After Glickfield said he didn’t intend to comply with the no-socks rule unless it was proven to him, Young documented their conversation in anAugust 26 court order. It requires Glickfieldto wear socks in all future court appearances,  along with a business suit and tie. Except for his missing socks, the attorney was
appropriately attired on the day in question, the judge notes, but he has appeared in the past without a tie and in an open-collared shirt. In the future, should Glickfield appear in court sans socks, “he will be subject to sanctions from the court which may include a delay ordered by the court in presenting his case, fines, and continuances of pending proceeding(s).” Save the date: Judge Kent Kellegrew has just announced that 2015’s mock trial competition will be held February 23, 24, 25 & 26. …Turkey? Dien Le at 818.889.2299 or dien.le@calawcounsel.com…

From July 22-28, Terence Geoghegan was in Rome, as Chief Center Referee for the World Championship o f International Tae Kwan – D o  Federation. Here he is announcing Arjun Dhingra, of Reno, NV, as Gold Medalist in 6th Dan Senior Patterns. Terence recently closed his office in Westlake, and can now be found sharing office space with Ed Elrod and Nancy Jacobs at (John Howard’s old address) 3585 Maple Street, Suite 228. (Insert photo here emailed 910 am)…Spain/Seville? Andy Viets at aviets@ca.ventura.ca.us or 340.8394…I don’t know why this irritates me so. Judge Judy is offering advice to women free of charge. Television’s most popular judge is celebrating the 19th season opening of her syndicated show by offering her new book, “What Would Judy Say: Be the Hero of Your Own Story,” for free to anyone who wants it. The
book offers plainspoken advice primarily for women, telling them not to let anyone besides themselves define what makes them happy. It is filtered through stories of the charmed life of the retired New York Family Court Judge Judy Sheindlin. She can afford to be generous. With “Judge Judy” atop the daytime ratings, TV Guide reported that Sheindlin is by far the highest paid person on television with an annual salary of $47 million…If you’d like to weigh-in on the proposed revisions to local court rules and revisions to local forms for the Superior Court of California, County of Ventura go to www.ventura.courts.ca.gov or Victoria. Borjesson@ventura.courts.ca.gov…

Robert Kwong, who has been with the Count Counsel’s office since 2003 has joined the Oxnard law firm of Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas & Zirbel. Robert started August 20 and may be reached at 988.9886 or rkwong@atozlaw.com …

Two sitting California judges were sanctioned last month in unrelated legal ethics cases for in-chambers sexual activity, as well as other misconduct. The Commission on Judicial Performance said Kern County (go figure) Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward became involved with his married court clerk during portions of 2012 and 2013, engaged with her in sexual activity in chambers, resisted suggestions that she should be reassigned to another judge sent her sexual notes during court and misled the county’s chief executive about the relationship. Woodward was censured only. The Commission also said Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner had in-chambers sex in 2012 with two of his former law students, tried to arrange a job with the District Attorney’s office for one woman with whom he was having an affair and failed to step down  from hearing a case involving a close friend. He too was only censured and remains on the bench… Iceland/Dublin/Paris? Katie Becker at 525.7104 or katie@baslawoffice.com…

MEA CULPA – I got a phone call from a very worthy attorney pal, Marc Charney, informing me he was feeling, “left out.” When I asked why, he retorted, “Since 1970, I have been in every single issue of the bar’s Legal Services Directory, but not this year.” That was all on us. He is indeed
alive and well at 1000 Town Center Drive,  Suite 300, Oxnard. marc@mcharneylaw.com or 351.8278… One day after Attorney General Kamala Harris announced she’d take legal action to defend California’s muchdebated death penalty law, Harris quietly tied the knot on 8.22 at the Santa Barbara Courthouse with Douglas Emhoff, a Los Angeles attorney…Over the next several months, the Santa Barbara bench will lose two judges with 53 years of combined experience. The first to step down will be Judge Denise de Bellefeuille, who retired September 24 after 21 years on the bench. Judge Frank Ochoa will retire in January 2015 after a 32 year career. Can you believe he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1983?

Steve Henderson has been the executive director and chief executive officer of the bar association and their affiliated organization since November 1990. He will spend the better part of October at Dodger Stadium cheering for  the visiting team and later basking in the sun in Aruba. He may be reached at steve@vcba.org, FB, Twitter at stevehendo1, LinkedIn, or better yet, 650.7599.

Classifieds October 2014

Office Space

Part-Time Office For Rent – Prestigious Thousand Oaks location. Spacious 13′ x16′ furnished office in established attorneys’ suite. Ground floor front garden window office. Waiting room. Secretarial area. Copy machine. Free conference room in building. Some overflow available. One day per week, $200 per month; Two days per week, $375 per month. Call (805) 497- 4474 anytime.

Help Wanted

Partnership/Associate Opportunities Hathaway Law Firm in Ventura is a 50 year AV rated law firm looking for 1) a civil litigation attorney with at least three or more years of experience and capable of handling matters independently, 2) a transactional attorney with at least three or more years of experience in dealing with business entities and real estate related issues, and 3) a family law attorney with at least three or more years of experience and capable of handling matters independently. Salary is commensurate with experience and candidates should have a partial (or better) book of business. Email resume in confidence to Jkvalelaw@Hotmail.com.

Services Offered

Recent law school grad seeking work in any capacity at a law firm. I plan to take the Bar exam in February. I have 10 years experience in office management, excellent work ethic, organizational and critical thinking skills as well as experience conducting legal research  and preparing legal documents. Please send inquiries to twylailyne@gmail.com.

JEWISH FAMILY JUSTICE CLINIC NEEDS VOLUNTEERS, by Julie Saltoun

Ventura County Jewish Family Service (JFS) provides a variety of counseling services and related programs on a nondenominational basis to strengthen the fabric of our community, one person at a time. The JFS Justice Clinic was started over 20 years ago based on a need for free legal advice to low-income individuals. Unfortunately, the need for legal clinics where the poor can readily receive legal assistance has recently grown in Ventura County. JFS would like to increase the times when its clinic is open to help fill this gap. Clients are referred to the JFS Justice Clinic by the  Ventura County Bar Association, 211 Social Service Line, social service agencies, and by word of mouth. Attorneys volunteer their time one evening a month at the JFS Office near downtown Ventura.

Among the attorneys who have volunteered over the years is long-time volunteer Terry Viele. Attorneys Patrick Cherry, Martin Rosenberg and Seth Shapiro currently provide services in rotation. Clients are seen by appointment, currently one Monday evening a month at the JFS office. Once at
the clinic, clients present a variety of legal issues. Many have received a summons or other legal document and need assistance understanding their rights and obligations. Legal issues frequently brought to the volunteer attorneys include disputes related to custody (both parental and grandparents’ rights), child support, guardianship, divorce, fraud, credit and financial issues, landlordtenant disputes, consumer matters, small claims disputes, wills, health care, and disability rights. Volunteer attorneys review the client’s legal documents and paperwork, and provide advice and referrals. The volunteer attorneys do not represent clients in court.

The majority of the clients using the services of the JFS Justice Clinic have very low incomes and would be unable to readily afford private legal consultation. The list of clients wanting an appointment at the Clinic has grown considerably. In order to expand the hours of the Justice Clinic, more attorneys are needed to volunteer their time one evening a month. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer attorney, please call the JFS office at 641- 6565. You can learn more about Jewish Family Service and the JFS Justice Clinic by the visiting the JFS website at www.jfsvc.org.
Julie Saltoun practices law in Ventura. She can be reached at jasaltooun.gmail.com.

“BOYHOOD” BEFORE OUR EYES, by Bill Paterson

“Boyhood” is one of the year’s most acclaimed films. It chronicles the life of a boy from the age of six until he leaves home for college. In an audacious artistic choice, director Richard Linklater used the same actors and shot the film over a twelve-year period. The result
is a film in which we watch the protaganist grow up before our eyes.

The boy is Mason (Coltrane Ellar). His parents are divorced and he and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their mother (Patricia Arquette). His dad (Ethan Hawke) is a genial slacker who gradually evolves into a more serious and caring man. His mom is the rock of the family, but she hits a number of rough patches in life. Then there is Mason, the center of the film. He is the embodiment of both the idyllic period of carefree childhood and a reminder of how difficult life can be as a confused teenager.

“Boyhood” treasures the small moments of life that are woven into the fabric of every family. When you are watching Mason and his family negotiate the uncertain shoals of life you will no doubt be reminded of some of the joys, and the not so joyful moments, of your own life. “Boyhood” is a unique and rewarding filmgoing experience.
Bill Paterson is Of Counsel at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson in Ventura, where he is a founding partner.

BARRISTERS’ CORNER, by Rachel Coleman

On October 16th from 5:30 to 8 pm, the Barristers will host their free annual Judges’ Pizza Night. The event will take place at Discovery Ventura located at 1888 E. Thompson Blvd. in Ventura. This is the only Barrister event that is exclusive to judges, justices, Barristers and law students.

Barristers are any member of the bar who is under 36; or has been admitted to practice law for seven years or fewer; or has been in practice for a total of seven years or fewer. No RSVP is necessary. Please refer to our flyer enclosed in this issue of CITATIONS for more information or contact Barristers President Rachel Coleman at Rachel@davidlehrlaw.com.

On November 13, from 6-8 pm, the Barristers will host Trivia Night at Garman’s, 932 E. Main Street in Santa Paula. This event is open to everyone. I believe there will be an exciting rematch between the local bench and bar that you don’t want to miss. A $10.00 donation to benefit the Barristers is requested. The Barristers Board is up for re-election in December. If you would like to be nominated to be a Board member or secretary, treasurer, vice-president, or president, please come to our next Board meeting on November 4, at 12 pm at the Ventura County Bar Association office, 4475 Market Street in Ventura.

Rachel Coleman is a Ventura criminal defense attorney and an associate at the Law Offices of David Lehr

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: IS IT SAFE TO DONATE LEFTOVERS? by Wendy C. Lascher

This article originally appeared in the Fall,2014 issue of Edible Ojai. It appears here with permission.. It appears here with permission. Every day, Ventura County stores, restaurants, caterers and food trucks send hundreds or even thousands of pounds of unused but perfectly edible food leftovers to landfills. Some sources put the amount of food waste nationally at 14 billion pounds each year. Every day, nonprofit organizations in the county feed hundreds of hungry people. So wouldn’t it make sense to donate the excess food to local food banks and other nonprofit organizations instead?

Too often, business owners decline. “We might get sued if someone gets sick,” they say. “If something happens, we could be liable.”  It’s easy to see how headlines about food poisoning litigation might give rise to these concerns. Fortunately, federal and California laws provide some measure of protection for food donors who fear lawsuits.

President Bill Clinton signed the “Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996” to encourage donations of healthy food that would otherwise be wasted. That law, named after a Missouri Congressman who fought for the law but died before its passage, protects retail grocers, wholesalers, restaurants, caterers, gleaners, organizations and individuals from damage awards and criminal prosecutions when they donate “apparently wholesome food” to a nonprofit organization for “ultimate distribution to needy individuals.”

Nonprofit organizations receiving the food are likewise protected from liability based on the food donations they accept. Because the Emerson Act protects organizations, it applies when one nonprofit organization donates food to another The Emerson Act does not immunize food terrorists. It does not protect against intentional misconduct  donating something the donor knows is harmful) or against gross negligence (acting or failing to act knowing that the action or inaction is likely to be harmful.) Additional fine print somewhat limits how far the Emerson Act goes.

It defines “donate” to mean giving “without requiring anything of monetary value from the recipient.” So, making a product available at a reduced price would not qualify under the Emerson Act. “Apparently wholesome food” means the food has to meet “all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state, and local laws and regulations.” If you take the time to look them up, there are shelves (or at least flash drives) full of those laws and regulations.

The Emerson Act does not supersede state or local health regulations, so it is important to consider California laws that regulate food facilities and agricultural products. (A food facility is “an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food” directly to consumers.) When a “food facility” donates food fit for human consumption to a nonprofit organization or food bank for distribution free of charge, California law protects the donor from civil liability and criminal prosecution for labeling or packaging violations that occur after the donation.

Retail food facilities may not be held liable for injuries due to donated food unless the injury resulted from negligence (acting or failing to act below the standard of care of reasonable people in the same circumstances), recklessness or intentional misconduct. The nonprofits receiving the donated food are also immune from civil liability for injuries caused by the food, so long as they are not negligent or reckless, and do not intentionally hurt anyone.

Let’s see what we can all do to reduce food waste and help feed people who are hungry.

FOOD SAFETY STATUTES

Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 – 42 U.S.C. §1971 California Retail Food Code – Health & Safety Code, §113700 et seq. See also Civil Code, §1714.25; Food and Agricultural Code, §58501, et seq.

DONATION DO’S AND DON’TS

 What does the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 mean to Ventura County residents who’d like to donate food?

Here are some examples of donations that are – or are not – covered by the law.

YES:

  • If your grocery store has bakery products that are going to be thrown out, they can be donated without concern about
  • packaging and labeling, so long as the products have been handled with care.
  •  If a nonprofit group (such as a religious or service organization) has a fundraiser and there is extra food, it can be donated as long as it has been handled with care. This includes food prepared by a caterer, but not food prepared by volunteers in their homes.
  • If you have a large catered party in your home, the caterer who sold you the food may donate the leftovers to a nonprofit, again provided the food has been handled with care.
  • A nonprofit community garden, such as Color Gardens in Downtown Ventura, and home gardeners may donate produce to nonprofits, under the protection of these food donation laws.
  • An individual may donate unexpired, nonperishable food to nonprofits, under the protection of these food donation laws.

 NO:

  • If you cook a huge meal for your family and have leftovers, your food donations may not be protected by California law because private homes are not “food facilities.”
  • If you operate a beer- or wine-tasting room that also serves snacks, you may not give away leftovers to nonprofits under these laws because these tasting rooms also are not considered “food facilities.”
  • Like everything involved with the law, there are many qualifications and limitations in these laws, and this article is not intended to be treated as legal advice. If you are a retail food provider or a nonprofit organization with questions about food donations, please consult your own attorney.

Consult the local nonprofit organizations’ websites to learn about their specific policies and guidelines regarding food donations: Food Share (FoodShare.com), RAIN Communities, Inc., (RainCommunities.org) and Ventura County Rescue Mission (VCRescueMission.org).

Ventura County Veterans Legal Clinic

The Military and Veterans Legal Clinic Ventura County (MVLCVC), a free legal clinic for active duty military members and veterans, begins serving the needs of the military and veterans community of Ventura in October. To support the legal concerns of military members and veterans, the clinic will provide an initial free one-hour consultation with an attorney for those on active duty, members of the National Guard and Reserves, veterans and military retirees.

Kim Evans Logie, liaison to the Veterans Court and director of the Ventura County Military Collaborative, has spearheaded the formation of MVLCVC. She announced that the first clinic will be held on October 17 and 18, 2014, at the office of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, located in the Ventura County Community Foundation Non-Profit Center in Camarillo. One-hour appointments will be scheduled for those who wish to discuss their legal concerns in a confidential environment. Appointments will be scheduled between 1 and 5 p.m. on Friday, October 17, and the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 18, 2014. There will be no charge to the veteran or member for the initial consultation. The clinic will be held once a month on dates that will be announced. Staffed by volunteer local attorneys and supported by law students and interns, the clinic will be open to discuss matters of driving offenses, including traffic citations or driving while intoxicated; child custody, support and family law; credit and bankruptcy matters; domestic violence; expungement of convictions from military records; landlord/tenant disputes; powers of attorney and estate planning; workers’ compensation; federal benefits; unemployment benefits, among others.

According to Logie, legal services needs following the initial clinic appointment may include retaining an attorney to represent the veteran or member, referral to other attorneys or agencies with necessary expertise, or other services which may or may not require fees for such additional services.

The MVLCVC is a wholly voluntary effort supported by a number of local agencies and individuals devoting volunteer time to support active duty military and veterans in connection with their legal needs. It is anticipated that future affiliation with the Ventura County Military Collaborative, with its charitable 501(c)(3) status pending, will provide the essential administrative support for the clinic. Other Ventura County agencies involved in and upporting this new effort include the Ventura County Bar Association, the Veterans Court, the Public Defenders Office, RSVP Oxnard, the Veterans Treatment Court, the Military Collaborative, the Veterans Services office, the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement, and several others.

Though the clinic has no budget or funding, it has been established to address a growing need for affordable legal services for vets and active duty members. “Though we are not able to provide services to the dependents of our veterans and active members at present, we plan to seek future funding that will hopefully allow us to expand our reach. At present, we can only do so much,” said Logie. Further information and appointment scheduling may be accessed online at www. military411.org. Attorneys who wish to volunteer to assist in the clinic may sign up at that site as well.

PERSONAL INJURY PRACTICE: BETTER HANDLED BY ADJUSTORS?, by Mark E. Hancock

Tort plaintiff practice in California has been impacted by a number of state and federal court cases in the past several years. On the state level, Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 541 held that a plaintiff whose medical expenses are paid by private insurance cannot recover more than the amount actually paid or still owing for past medical expenses. Corenbaum v. Lampkin (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 1308 did away with post-verdict reduction hearings, holding that the full amount billed is not relevant at trial on the issue of past or future medical expenses, if the amount for which they were settled was less. The full amount billed is likewise inadmissible for arguing, quantifying, or proving pain and suffering damages.

On the federal level, in Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc. (2006) 547 U.S. 356, the United States Supreme Court held that an ERISA health plan fiduciary may sue a plan participant or beneficiary in federal court, to enforce a third party liability provision, under §502(a)(3) of ERISA; The court held that such an action seeks equitable relief. This decision resolved a conflict among the circuits. In the subsequent case of U.S. Airways v. McCutchen (2013) 569 U.S. — the court noted that without the common-fund doctrine “the insurer can free ride on the beneficiary’s efforts” and that a beneficiary otherwise could be made worse off for having pursued a responsible

third party. Nevertheless, the Court held that if, in a health plan governed by ERISA the third party reimbursement provision provides that the common fund doctrine (or the make whole rule) do not apply, they don’t. According to the Court, while the enforcement action is “equitable” because it is enforcing an equitable lien “by agreement,” the plan terms are primary and govern what happens in such an “equitable” action. So much for equity and the concern for fairness. These cases reduce a plaintiff ’s damages and recovery, because they reduce the amount a plaintiff can ask for to begin with and increase the amount that he or she has to pay back if there is a recovery. Undiscussed or unaddressed, however, arethe facts that the reduction in medical expenses often comes about because the plaintiff, or family members of the plaintiff, paid hefty premiums for that private health insurance (toward which the defendant and/ or defendant’s liability insurance company did not contribute) and that the third party recovery was obtained only because the plaintiff hired and paid for counsel. It may also be somewhat of a legal fiction to say that plaintiffs really “agreed” to the fine print of the third party reimbursement clause in their voluminous, adhesive and possibly unconscionable health plan.

Several things are ironic and unfair about these developments. The first is that it is insurance companies that often benefit from these changes. Health insurance companies pay less and get more back. They pay less to doctors and other health care providers and then get to ask for all of what they did pay back. They charge for risk, but where’s the risk in that? They may even try to avoid paying any of the attorney’s fees that it took to achieve the recovery to which they lay claim. They all seem to have been to the seminar about the McCutchen case. Liability insurance companies, for their part, get the benefit of the lower rate paid out to the health care providers, even though they paid none of the health care premiums that earned that benefit. What’s equitable, much less fair, about this state of affairs?

The second ironic thing is that these changes came not from the legislature, or the will of the people. These changes all came from the judiciary and case law. Why? Would some in the judiciary like to see personal injury litigation eliminated and/or turned into subrogation claims and credit swaps between insurance companies? If not, where is the concern that the plaintiff be made whole, or that reimbursement claims made by health insurers be reduced by a proportionate share of the fee the plaintiff paid to the attorney to recover that compensation for him or her?

The third ironic thing is that, from appearances, neither property/casualty nor health insurance companies are hurting. Property and casualty insurance companies, for example, earned more in premiums, paid less in losses and almost doubled their net income in 2013 (according to an industry overview from the Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org/fact-statistic/industryoverview.) Someone might fairly ask: why the changes and how do these changes benefit the public? Do you think the world would be a better place if personal injury recoveries were administered by claims adjustors, with no recourse?

Mark E. Hancock is an attorney with offices in Ventura. He represents insureds, plan participants and beneficiaries in insurance and ERISA plan claims, such as LTD appeals and cases, and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.

PROFILE: Judge Gilbert A. Romero, by Al Vargas

Judge Gilbert A. Romero, a third generation Ventura County resident, understands the importance of an education and deeply appreciates the effect role models have in shaping a young person’s life. Judge Romero graduated from CSUN and UC Hastings Law School before working at
the Ventura County District Attorney’s office. After fourteen years trying criminal cases, Governor Brown appointed him to the Superior Court bench in November of 2012.

Judge Romero’s maternal grandmother emigrated from Jalisco, Mexico to Oxnard. She embodied perseverance and by example imparted this trait to Judge Romero. “She is my hero. She toiled in the fields of Oxnard picking fruits and vegetables so I would not have to,” he reflects.

Judge Romero grew up without his mother and father, who were dealing with alcohol and addiction issues in their own lives. “I know first hand the devastation alcohol and drugs can cause a family.” Grandmother, and extended family members not much older than he, did their best to raise Judge Romero. The value of an education was less important to them at that time than survival.

In high school, Judge Romero did not know which path he would follow. Sophomore year he learned about the  Upward Bound Program at CLU through friends and joined. He spent three years in the program, which exposed him to people and ideas he would not have otherwise experienced. He realized, through Upward Bound, that while he did not chose the life he was born into, he got to decide where it would lead. He decided senior year to attend college.

Judge Romero put himself through college and law school. He recalls, “It was simultaneously exciting and scary, but a wonderful challenge that gave me a chance to learn who I really was.” He enjoyed the entire law school experience: learning the law, the critical thinking and reasoning. While at Hastings he interviewed with then-Chief Deputy District Attorney, and now-Judge, Jeffrey G. Bennett, for a job at the District Attorney’s Office. Judge Romero started working there after graduation.

Even though Judge Romero credits the entire DA’s Office experience with honing his legal skills and providing Another great education, he always insists that on a fundamental level, his grandmother influenced him most. “I remember, as a child, her coming home from work, her boots caked with mud and clearly tired, but she still found the time to talk and read to me. Throughout my professional career, whenever I found myself tired or less than fully motivated, I would drive out to the fields where she worked and I would watch the field laborers. That has provided all the motivation I have ever needed.” That motivation continues to this day.

While in law school, Judge Romero always knew he would come back home to Ventura County and raise a family. His wife, local attorney Sandra Romero, born and raised in Ventura, shared his sentiment. They have an energetic two-year-old boy, Steven, who occupies most of Judge Romero’s time outside of the courthouse. “But I still try to find time to volunteer, although not as often as I could before the birth of my son,” Judge Romero says.

“There is nothing like giving back to the community that you grew up in. I feel an obligation to give back, especially to our youth. Over the years I have spent time volunteering for various organizations like the Upward Bound Program at CLU, Mock Trial, Boys and Girls Club, and even with our youth in juvenile detention. I try to reach the kids who may be in the same situation I was in.”

He rarely passes up an opportunity to work with kids. “A little time and positive words can have a profound way of changing lives,” he opines.

Did any other professions interest him? Judge Romero replied, “I knew that I had to get through school quickly and start working because I had two little sisters that I wanted to help raise, but I would have liked being a writer – traveling the world, experiencing life and writing about it. I may not have been able to do that, but the greatest gift I am going to give my son is the opportunity for him to follow his dreams, whatever they may be.”

Judge Romero did consider running for political office at one time. However, that likely would have required him to be away from his family often. Husband and father are his most important roles.  Before their son’s birth, the Romeros travelled to Turkey and Greece, and had plans to visit Egypt. The region’s instability made Egypt too dangerous, but the Romeros hope to eventually make the trip with Steven. Egypt is first on the list, but certainly China and New Zealand are not far behind. Judge Romero says, “I am a big believer in taking your children whenever you can. They are always experiencing and learning, and observing that through their eyes is amazing.”

While Judge Romero basks in being a father, he clearly has less personal time. He recently started playing golf, and took sailing lessons and finds the open water rewarding. He tries to hit the gym a couple times a week or at least go for a good run.  He has always been a voracious reader. At night, usually after Steven and Sandra are asleep, Judge Romero spends an hour or two pleasure reading, particularly history. Steven prefers Dr. Seuss, with a nightly diet of Green Eggs and Ham and There’s a Wocket In My Pocket, followed by music and dancing.

Judge Romero thinks everyone can spare even a little time to try and make a difference in someone’s life. He says, “I always remember and appreciate the sacrifices my grandmother made for me. When I get home from work I feel blessed that I am not as physically tired as she was and I get to appreciate the time I have with my son.” Judge Romero encourages anyone willing to effect change in a young person’s life to contact: The Upward Bound program at CLU, (805)493-3350; the Mock Trial program, (805)437-1501; Boys and Girls Club, (805)641-5585; Big Brothers Big Sisters, (805)484-2282. In parting, Judge Romero remarked, “Life is about more than just you, nobody accomplishes anything alone.” So true.

Alfred Vargas practices in Ventura, handling consumer issues, appeals and administrative matters. Email him at avargaslaw@gmail.com or call (805)415-7837.