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BenchMarks Paul Bryant

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					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.

				
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