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Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012

{ JUDicial perspective: alUmni } katherine Feinstein ’84 INT THE FrAYo i budget deficit, Katherine Feinstein ’84 Francisco police commission, where she hadansFeinstein was a member of thealifornia wasn’t facing a multibillion-dollarcf might have stayed out of the limelight, con- the opportunity to act as a hearing officer, tentedly performing her chosen form of public when she decided to become a judge. Advice corner service as the presiding judge of the san “i found myself really enjoying being a WHAT ADvICE Francisco superior court. neutral,” she says. “life is not black and white. WoULD YoU but when gov. Jerry brown announced i think that at a certain age, you start to realize GIvE A LAWYEr his plan to cut $544 million in funding to that. As a young attorney, you may be more MAkING HIS or HEr california’s already crippled judicial branch, of a true believer, but then you see there are FIrST CoUrTrooM Feinstein swiftly jumped to defend her court two sides to every story. i liked being neutral, APPEArANCE? in her role as its chief manager. “The gover- ensuring that relevant, admissible evidence nor has taken the third branch of government was considered, that evidence that was not Dress professionally. and treated us like we are the department of relevant was thrown out, and that decisions You are not in court cosmetology,” Feinstein fumed, echoing other were based on sound evidence.” representing yourself. statements she had made to newspapers. in 2000, Feinstein was appointed to the I think sometimes “we have examples in history of when the san Francisco superior court by gov. gray attorneys forget that third branch is killed off, and it is not pretty. davis. within the court, she again gravitated their clients are ner- it is definitely not something we would ever toward juvenile dependency, delinquency, and vous. often, it’s the want to see repeated.” family law cases, as well as the youth Family first time a person has generally low-key and even shy by tem- violence court. been to the court. The perament, Feinstein, who is the daughter of “i loved being in juvenile court,” Feinstein last thing they want is longtime sen. dianne Feinstein (d-cA), says says. “with the lessened formality, you get to for their attorney to her upbringing taught her to speak out when know families and have the ability to be cre- seem unprofessional. needed. “let me put it this way: i’ve spent ative. you can try to put together something a lot of time in wood-paneled rooms with that works.” important people,” she says. “i respect them, Feinstein was the cofounder of the sF but i don’t fear them.” sQuires (san Quentin utilization of inmate After attending uc berkeley and work- resources, experience, and studies) program, ing in the newsroom at kQed-Tv throughout which brings young people in the juvenile college, Feinstein enrolled at uc hastings, court system to san Quentin to learn about intending to return to a journalism career once prison life from inmates serving life sentences. she finished her law degree. “i thought, and i in 2011, Feinstein was unanimously elected continue to think, that the skills i learned at uc by her peers to serve as the presiding judge hastings would be invaluable in many profes- of the san Francisco superior court. she was sions,” she says. promptly thrust into the middle of the worst she decided, however, to take a job as budget battles the state has ever seen. a prosecutor in the san Francisco district so what’s she going to do about it? Attorney’s office. she entered private prac- “believe me, although i’m fundamentally tice with a focus on juvenile dependency and a pretty shy, introverted person, i can be contested family law custody matters before scrappy,” says Feinstein, who has proposed moving to serve as the lead attorney of the that the judicial branch be more active about Family & children’s services Team at the san explaining itself to legislators. “i’m going to Francisco city Attorney’s office. fight for my court.” uc hAsTings 21


Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012
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