Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, October 3, 2001


Page 3


Ex-Wilson Appointee, Ousted by Voters, Named to Monterey Court


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A former Monterey County Municipal Court judge, whose tenure on that court was ended by voters after only five months in office, will return to the bench following her appointment to the Monterey Superior Court yesterday by Gov. Gray Davis.

Lydia Villareal, 47, was one of four lawyers named to trial courts yesterday by the governor. The others are Santa Rose City Attorney Rene Chouteau to the Sonoma Superior Court and San Jose private practitioners Randolph Rice and Erica Yew to the Santa Clara Superior Court.

Yew is a member of the State Bar Board of Governors.

Villareal was named to the municipal court by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995. But she was forced to run for office almost immediately as part of a settlement of a suit alleging that the county had discriminated against Hispanic voters by gradually consolidating a multiplicity of municipal and justice courts into a countywide court of limited jurisdiction.

As a result of the settlement, Villareal—one of the first Hispanics ever to sit on a Monterey County court—was forced to run in a predominantly Hispanic single-judge election district. She was defeated by Jose Angel Velasquez, who became a Superior Court judge through unification last December.

After her defeat, Villareal returned to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, which she had joined in 1989. A lawyer since 1980, she spent eight years representing migrant farmworkers with California Rural Legal Assistance and then joined a civil litigation firm for a short time before becoming a prosecutor.

A graduate of UC Santa Cruz and Boalt Hall, she has served on the boards of several local institutions, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and founded a nonprofit law office representing low-income families.

Chouteau, 56, has been city attorney since 1983. He began his career as an associate with a San Francisco firm in 1969, became a San Francisco deputy city attorney in 1971, and was with the Sonoma County Office of Education from 1977 until his appointment to his present position.

He lives in Healdsburg and is a former school board member there. His undergraduate and law degrees are from Stanford University.

Rice, 54, has spent his career in private practice. He currently specializes in commercial litigation and employment law, and is a former president of the Santa Clar County Bar Association Law Foundation.

Rice is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and Hastings College of the Law. In a press release, the governor noted that his family has lived in San Jose since 1777.

Yew, 41, has a broad insurance defense background and teaches trial advocacy at Stanford Law School. She defeated three opponents last year to win the District 3 seat on the Board of Governors, and is a member of the panel that screens prospective State Bar Court judges.

She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Hastings, and serves on the boards of the Asian Law Alliance, the Santa Clara County Law Library, and the Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley. She previously served on the boards of the Legal Aid Society, the Santa Clara County Bar Association, Lincoln Law School, and Child Advocates of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company