Editorial: Re-elect San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Buchwald

Judge Gerald Buchwald

DAILY POST EDITORIAL

San Mateo County voters should ask themselves two questions when it comes to deciding between Superior Court Judge Gerald Buchwald and challenger Richard Wilson.

1. Would Wilson make a good choice for judge?

2. Should Buchwald continue as a judge?

As for the first question, Wilson appears to be entirely qualified to serve as a judge. A 30-year resident of San Carlos, he has extensive experience as an attorney in private practice and as the senior counsel for the UC system, where he oversaw claims and lawsuits brought against the university’s medical departments and hospitals. We found nothing in his past that would suggest any ethical problems.

We do find his decision to enter this race curious. After deciding to run, Wilson researched the 10 judges up for re-election this year and went to the courthouse to observe them in court.

He decided to run against Buchwald because he has never been challenged for re-election and is one of the longest serving judges up for re-election this year.

Wilson is taking the high road in this campaign and not attacking Buchwald. We commend him for doing that. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to the ugly campaign going on in Santa Clara County to recall Judge Aaron Persky.

But the problem with that approach is that Wilson hasn’t made a convincing argument for why a voter should replace Buchwald.

From all indications, Buchwald is a fair-minded, honest judge who has the respect of attorneys who have appeared before him.

Yes, Buchwald admits to being a maverick on the bench. That doesn’t mean rulings that are outside of the law. Instead, it means he has a tendency to explain his rulings to the attorneys in the case rather than just issuing a one-word or one-sentence decision, as some judges do. He figures that the parties in a case are entitled to know why it is being decided in one way or another.

Of course a detailed explanation gives the losing party more ammunition to use in an appeal. But good explanations provide more transparency for the public, something we applaud.

Wilson didn’t make a big deal about this, but he pointed out almost in passing that Buchwald is 70, and will be 71 when his new term begins should he be re-elected. Judicial terms last six years. (Wilson is 64). In a nearly two-hour interview, Buchwald was sharp and didn’t exhibit any signs of old age.

Returning to the two questions we asked at the beginning: Yes, Wilson would make a good judge, but no, there’s no reason to replace Buchwald. We recommend re-electing Buchwald.

And we would encourage Wilson to apply to the governor for an appointment to the bench. When judges retire in the middle of a term, the governor appoints their replacement, who later will run for election. Under the circumstances, that seems to be the better approach here than forcing a perfectly capable judge off the bench.
— Editor Dave Price

Other Post recommendations
No on recalling Judge Persky
Cindy Hendrickson for Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge
No on Regional Measure 3, the toll hike
Carlos Bolanos for San Mateo County Sheriff
Nancy Magee for San Mateo County Office of Education superintendent

4 Comments

  1. I naively believed in our system of justice before I had the misfortune of being in Judge Buchwald’s courtroom. Anyone interested in the truth should read the comments on this site:

    http://www.therobingroom.com/california/Judge.aspx?id=3506

    These comments are entirely consistent with my first hand experience. What has happened and continues to happen in that courtroom is an embarrassment to our society and a travesty of justice.

  2. @The Real Story, Oh come on! The robing room is nothing more than a Yelp site for the courts that is filled with comments from people who have lost cases and are blaming the ref. If you’ve got a legitimate complaint against this judge, offer specifics that show judicial bias or malfeasance. Anyone can place a complaint on that website, and it’s not vetted for accuracy.

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