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Tuesday , 22 April 2014
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Cohen Throws His Hat in to Replace Judge Mock

Cohen-RickLast week, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Mock announced his retirement at a “Meet the Judges” event.  He will retire in January 2015 at the end of his 24th year of service in Yolo County.  He has been the long-case judge, presiding over many of the major trials of the last decade.

His retirement means that his seat will be open.  Already there are two possible candidates for the seat.  Frederick (Rick) Cohen, a Sacramento-based family law attorney formally announced his candidacy in a letter to supporters.

“It is with great pride that I announce my candidacy for the position of Superior Court Judge in Yolo County and humbly ask for your support,” he wrote.

Rick Cohen received his BA from the University of Michigan before getting his law degree from the UC Davis School of Law in 1989.  Since 1996, he is the founder and principal of a two-attorney family law litigation firm, the Law Offices of Fredrick Cohen.

In his letter, he claims he has already raised over $100,000 and claims the support from, among others, West Sacramento Vice-Mayor Mark Johannessen and Councilmember Bill Kristoff, as well as Davis Councilmember Brett Lee.

“My record includes extensive legal experience in the areas of family law, civil litigation, contempt of court proceedings, ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] litigation, personal injury and insurance defense, and contract and business litigation,” Mr. Cohen stated in his campaign letter.

He added, “I am a Certified Family Law Specialist, and have served as a temporary judge, Judicial Arbitrator, and Fee Arbitrator. In these roles I have tried contested cases, handled law and motion hearings, presided over Small Claims cases, and served as a settlement conference judge.”

He said, “I have also served as a board and committee member for the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, the Executive Committees of the Family Law Section and the Children’s Counsel Section of the Sacramento Bar Association, and twice as a member of the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Sacramento Area Chapter.”

“It is my goal to ensure that cases are heard fairly and impartially, to protect children and families, and to ensure the administration of justice. Throughout my career, I have held myself to the highest standards of ethics and these principals will guide me as your judge,” Mr. Cohen added.

Judge Mock’s retirement ends a 24-year run as member of the bench.  Prior to his appointment in 1990, he had served as a Deputy District Attorney in Yolo County from 1973 to 1990.  He received his bachelor’s degree from UC Davis in 1968 and his law degree from Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley in 1971.

Judge Mock, 67, was at times the subject of controversy.  His wife, Ann Hurd, remained a Deputy District Attorney during a good portion of his tenure on the bench, rising to a supervisory position in the office.  That led to periodic efforts to disqualify Judge Mock under section 170.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure which “provides for disqualification if ‘[t]he judge, or the spouse of a judge…is a party to the proceeding or an officer, director, or trustee of a party.’  In addition, subdivision 170.1 (a)(6) (A) (iii) provides for disqualification if ‘[a] person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial.’”

In addition to Mr. Cohen, Commissioner Janene Beronio is expected to announce her candidacy today.

Ms. Beronio, 63, received her JD from McGeorge School of Law in 1978, and was appointed to her current position in 1989 after serving as a Deputy District Attorney in Yolo County from 1980-89.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About David Greenwald

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

5 comments

  1. one of the most important elections we face. reposting from yesterday:

    wonder how many readers understand how significant the retirement of Mock will be from a judicial perspective?

    very disappointed to hear that the judges are backing beronio. some of my friends in the legal field who practice in yolo have deep trouble with her.

    look at her record – she spent ten years as a dputy da. she became commissioner in 1990. since then, she has been a quasi-judicial official and yet over the last 23 years, the majority with republican governors, she has never been elevated to the bench. call that a huge red flag.

  2. I don’t know what she does now, except to schedule hearings. I don’t think she even feels obligated to listen and use judgement. Maybe her job doesn’t require it. A clerical person could do what she does.

  3. Due to the almost simgle-handed efforts of now-retired Judge Petrie, the Yolo bench was moved to bring Family Law out of “judicial Siberia.” Judge Cohen would be a valuable addition to the Yolo bench now, adding his expertise and strong voice as an advocate of the importance of Family Law; helping families and prioritizing what is in the best interests of children involved.

  4. The Commissioner has a lot more on her plate than meets the bystander’s eye. It shows a lot more of her character that she has not only chosen, but been ALLOWED to remain in the position she sits in. My two main arguments here:

    If you just read the full judicial assignment, you’ll see that at least since the implementation of AB-109, the Commissioner makes some very important decisions regarding type of violation, perceived vs actual threat of incarcerated criminals to the public, etc. She is in charge of Yolo’s AB-109 re-sentencing. No offense, but that is something a clerical person doesn’t, and shouldn’t be doing.

    If you think about things a little harder, or if you’ve ever been in front of her in that small courtroom, you may realize that she may single handedly have more control over a particular suspect’s case than any intake prosecutor, trial ADA, or the presiding judge. She has sat at that post since 1989. She sits there to arraign you with a overtly broad charge doc given to her by prosecutors of all ranks, but she also can be seen reading through pages, subtly, and when that charge doc is three sentences,my bet is she is reading the initial discovery. She knows what she will be doing to a particular suspect if she puts him/her in front of Judge Rosenberg versus [starting this year in felony] Judge McAdams. Whether she is consciously making any of these decisions, and the ethical questions that surround that are beside the point – she does a lot of work, can be trusted with a lot of power, and doesn’t seem to take or expect much praise for it.

    Just my two cents.

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