Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Justice Richard Sims to Retire From Third District C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Third District Court of Appeal Justice Richard Sims III said yesterday he will retire within the next 12 months.
Sims, a judge since 1980 and a member of the appeals court since 1982, told the MetNews that he will step down sometime between Oct. 31 of this year and Jan. 31 of next year.
He is not dissatisfied with the work, and there is no particular reason for the timing, he said. “It should be a good enough excuse that I’ve done the job for 27 years,” he commented.
Sims added that he has no future plans beyond traveling with his wife.
“I will not sit on assignment,” he explained. “Whether I will do private judging, I don’t know.”
If he does, he said, it will be after “a period of not thinking about the law for awhile” because he is “just going to take a break.”
The 66-year-old jurist is an Oakland native who graduate from Amherst College in 1965 and was president of his class at Harvard Law School in 1968. His father, Richard Sims Jr., was district attorney for Marin County in the 1940s and later served on trial and appellate courts, retiring from the First District Court of Appeal in 1978.
The younger Sims began his legal career with Volunteers in Service to America in 1968, then became assistant executive director of the San Francisco Committee on Crime in 1970. He served as general counsel to then-San Francisco Sheriff Richard Hongisto in 1972 and 1973 before joining Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges.
He taught at the University of San Francisco School of Law as an adjunct professor from 1972 to 1975 and eventually became a partner at Thelen. He left in 1980 when then-Gov. Jerry Brown named him a Placer Superior Court judge.
The selection was not favorably regarded locally, he once told a reporter, because “about 99 percent of the people considered it a carpetbagging appointment.” While he had spent summers in the area since childhood, Sims was unknown to the local legal community.
He became active in local affairs, however, and by 1982 was able to run unopposed for a full term on the court. He was nominated to the Court of Appeal by Brown just as the governor was concluding his second term.
In an e-mail to colleagues, family and friends announcing his retirement decision, Sims cited the advice of John Racanelli, who was presiding justice of the First District’s Div. One when Sims’ father served there.
“Many years ago, Justice Racanelli told me, ‘You will know when it is time to stop writing opinions,’ ” he wrote.
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