Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Court of Appeal Justice Douglas E. Swager to Step Down
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Court of Appeal Justice Douglas E. Swager of the First District’s Div. One has confirmed that he will retire Dec. 31.
Swager, 63, told the MetNews that it was time for him to “start a new journey” after 23 years on the bench and that he was still looking at his options, but added that he plans to “keep an oar in legal waters.”
Noting that he could have retired three years ago, but that it “didn’t feel right,” the justice commented he wanted to move on while he still had his health, and said that he wanted to spend more time “in the mountains.”
Swager said that he hoped to be remembered for making decisions based on facts and the law, noting that every case is important to the litigants and parties.
Appointed to the Bay Municipal Court in Contra Costa County in 1985 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, Swager joined the Contra Costa Superior Court in 1987, where he later served as presiding judge in 1993 and 1994. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to the Court of Appeal in 1995, and Swager won a retention election for the position in 1998.
Swager was born in Richmond, Calif., and attended college at UC Berkeley before graduating from Hastings College of the Law in 1969. Admitted to the State Bar the following year, he began his legal career as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County before entering private practice in 1973, first as an associate and then later as a partner, in what is now the law firm of Watson, Hoffe & Barbieri.
In 1981, Swager joined the firm of Whiting, Rubenstein, Swager & Levy as a partner, and practiced there until his appointment to the Municipal Court.
A member of the California Judges’ Association and the Italian American Bar Association, Swager previously served as consultant for the California Judges Benchguide and was a member of the State Trial Court Budget Commission and its Executive Committee. He is a former member of Contra Costa County Bar Association and Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association.
Swager is a member of the Board of Managers of the West Contra Costa County YMCA, where he was named chief volunteer officer for 1991-1992, and received the YMCA’s Volunteer of the Year Award, its Humanitarian of the Year Award and the YMCA of the USA West Field Committee Distinguished Service Award. He has also served on the boards of various community service organizations.
Married to Judith Bretz Swager in 1969 with three children, he enjoys photography, hiking, fishing and Italian.
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