6 www.sbcba.org November 2003 Judge Bryant regrets some law changes settlement conferences. He says this frees affecting the mentally ill. “I think it was a valuable bench time and “has been a very BenchMarks: better society when (people now homeless) were in more structured settings. They were successful program for us” in both civil and family matters. safer,” he says. Now Rancho supervisor for 1½ years, Paul M. Bryant An itch for more trial work led him to a nine-year career prosecuting major crimes for Judge Bryant performs various oversight duties in association with court the San Bernardino County district attorney’s administration, the clerk’s office and bar. He Superior Court office. Having been a criminal defense formerly supervised in the family area when attorney, he was now prosecuting high profile he presided over such cases. Judge, County of San homicides and would later preside over Judge Bryant says court consolidation was a Bernardino homicide cases as a local judge. “godsend to the Superior Court” because it Furthering his career, Judge Bryant was made former Municipal Court judges by Ed Butler hired as a municipal court commissioner in late 1985. His varied assignments at benches all available to bear a wider spectrum of cases. He said this change resulted in Rancho’s around the county included small claims. allocation of civil case judges increasing from Asked for his opinion of small claims court on two to five, and family from two to three. aised in San Bernardino, Judge Paul M. television, he says his experience at the time Judge Bryant indicates that judging is a great R Bryant brings varied practice and bench experience to his role as supervisor of the Rancho Cucamonga District of San Bernardino County Superior Court. was that these shows tended to emphasize bizarre cases and created an attraction for them. An example was women who sued their beauty operator when a hairdo failed to lead to success source of professional satisfaction. “I think it is a great honor to be a judge,” he says. “I enjoy the interaction with lawyers. I enjoy the intellectual challenge. I like the Now presiding over criminal matters, Judge at a job interview. sense at the end of the day that I have done Bryant emphasizes the importance of efficient After a couple years as commissioner, Judge the best that I could.” handling of cases as he savors many facets of Bryant was picked by Gov. Deukmejian to He indicates that for him advocacy was not jurisprudence. serve as municipal court judge. In his year in always as satisfying, in that application of A thoroughly local product, Judge Bryant that role at Ontario he acted as supervisor lawyering skills wasn’t always toward an was born at Fontana Kaiser Hospital to a while presiding over all types of misdemeanor internally gratifying result. fireman at Kaiser Steel who retired as cases. Deukmejian moved him up to Superior As for general advice to attorneys, Judge superintendent in charge of plant protection. Court in September 1989. Bryant would encourage them to “be on time Growing up, he went out for Little League and His varied assignments as Superior Court and be prepared.” He says there’s nothing Pony League and partook of several other judge began with a mixture of criminal, civil more disheartening for a judge than to read sports. His main extra curricular activity in and domestic cases for 1½ years at Victorville. the paperwork and then see attorneys on the school was playing trumpet, starting in sixth He then returned to West Valley to preside matter “who know less about the case than the grade and continuing in dance band and over family matters for 2½ years, before judge does.” Sometimes its a traveling orchestra at San Bernardino High School. switching to civil there for a seven-year stint. attorney from elsewhere who has not San Bernardino State College was a He’s been back on criminal matters ever since. familiarized himself enough with a case newborn entity when Judge Bryant enrolled as Judge Bryant expresses a preference for the prepared by an associate. the first college student in his family. He variety and newness of presiding over civil Also, it’s important that attorneys in need graduated from the school as a political science cases. He also enjoys family adjudication of continuances on law and motion notify the and philosophy double major. He worked his because "often you feel you have made a court as soon as possible. way through school, in summer as a laborer at difference because people are going through a While it’s only human to make mistakes, Kaiser Steel and during the school year very difficult time." Family is relatively “the best lawyers are invariably polite and “busting tires” at Sears, Inland Center. His "draining," however, he admits. prepared,” Judge Bryant finds. other past work experience includes appliance At present, Judge Bryant draws upon his As for his family life, Judge Bryant has a and men’s clothing sales, neither of which was long criminal bench background to support an son teaching economics at Chaffey College his cup of tea. efficient flow of caseload, which he says is and a daughter, a prospective attorney, Judge Bryant reflects fondly upon the paramount. He says criminal matters will “eat attending San Francisco State University. orange groves and vineyards of the valley’s up everything else on the calendar, due to strict The judge says his favorite leisure time past. He remembers San Bernardino with a time deadlines, unless they are handled pursuits are reading history and philosophy, small town flavor, back when people didn’t efficiently. He says “keeping the criminal walking, restaurant dining and travel. lock their doors and left their keys in the car. under control” at Rancho Cucamonga has Judge Bryant envisioned a teaching career as allowed the district to virtually dedicate five of Ed Butler is Manager of the Rancho he completed his undergraduate studies. He its departments to civil matters. Cucamonga Branch of the San Bernardino embarked upon teaching history and Another major support to efficiency, the County Law Library. substituting in the Los Angeles schools, as he judge says, is contracting with IVAMS, a pursued graduate studies in philosophy at Cal private judge organization, to run mandatory State, Northridge. Along the way, a couple of good friends encouraged him to look at the law, and while teaching during the day, he studied in the night program at Whittier College of Law. ELWOOD M. RICH Graduating there in 1975 as president of its JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT (RET) Student Bar, Judge Bryant explains, “I tried it, I liked it. I thought it was interesting, JUDGE FOR 28 YEARS challenging.” It also coincided with his interest in history and philosophy. MEDIATIONS • ARBITRATIONS • INDEPENDENT ADR Armed with his new license to practice, he became associated in 1976 with attorneys Jim (909) 684-3782 McGuire, now judge at Joshua Tree, and John CALIFORNIA SOUTHERN LAW SCHOOL Hardy. With them his general practitioner work 3775 ELIZABETH STREET, RIVERSIDE 92506 included criminal defense and specializing in representation of mental patients.