Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Retired Justice Marcel Poché Named to Santa Clara Superior Court
Naming of Retired Appellate Court Jurist to Trial Court Is Apparent First
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Retired First District Court of Appeal Justice Marcel Poché was named to the Santa Clara Superior Court yesterday by Gov. Gray Davis.
Returning to the bench is something you do after you “flunk retirement,” Poché said. The 68-year-old jurist, who left the Court of Appeal in September 2000 and retired to North Carolina, said he came back at the beginning of this year and began sitting on assignment because his brain “started to atrophy.”
He has been sitting in a criminal courtroom and was in the middle of a child abuse trial when the Governor’s Office announced his appointment.
He told the MetNews he was thankful to Chief Justice Ronald M. George for the opportunity to sit on assignment, and to Davis for the appointment. While he sat on the First District for 21 years, one of the longest tenures in the history of that court, he said he has always enjoyed the trial bench.
The author of more than 2,000 appellate opinions frequently sat on assignment to the Superior Court while a member of the Court of Appeal.
While he could have continued sitting on assignment indefinitely, he said yesterday he preferred an appointment—apparently a first for a retired jurist—for several reasons. Most importantly, he said, “I ought to be accountable to the people.”
He added that there is “more of a sense of being able to plan your own existence when you’re a regular judge” as opposed to an assigned judge.
Poché, who said he would probably stay on the bench this time around “’till I drop or get impeached,” will have to face the electorate in 2004. His home in Edenton, N.C., on Albemarle Sound, is for sale, he disclosed.
The Marine Corps veteran has had a multifaceted career in law as well as government.
Born in New Orleans, he graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1956 and from Boalt Hall in 1961, and has a master of laws degree from the University of Virginia. He was in private practice in San Jose from 1962 to 1968, then served as an assistant to Rep. Don Edwards from 1969 to 1975.
He left Edwards’ staff in 1975 to work for a friend from law school, Jerry Brown, who had just become governor. Brown appointed him to the Santa Clara Superior Court in 1977 and elevated him to the appellate court two years later.
He also taught at the University of Santa Clara’s law school from 1966 to 1977, receiving the school’s “Outstanding Professor” Award. His other honors include “Appellate Justice of the Year” Awards from the California Trial Lawyers Association and the Trial Lawyers Association of San Francisco.
Poché fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge LaDoris Cordell.
Davis yesterday also named former Santa Clara County Bar Association President Patrick E. Tondreau, 55, to the Superior Court. A former prosecutor, Tondreau has been in private practice, litigating civil and criminal cases, since 1979 and is currently a sole practitioner.
He is a graduate of the University of Santa Clara and earned his law degree from Gonzaga University. He succeeds Judge John Ball, who retired.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company