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Friday, June 19, 2009

California's First Openly Gay Superior Court Judge Hopes To Avoid Being 'Cubbyholed'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge Judge Ronald Albers - SAN FRANCISCO SUPERIOR COURT
  • San Francisco Superior Court
  • Judge Ronald Albers
When new superior court judges are appointed by the governor, it's usually a three-paragraph story in the back of the paper. In Judge Ronald Albers' case, that was how it went -- and yet it didn't.


It wasn't just another appointment for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when Albers was sworn in Monday at San Francisco Superior Court; the 60-year-old judge is, to the best of anyone's knowledge, the first openly LGBT person every tapped for the state's superior court.

Albers called the appointment a "great honor," and, as would be expected from a man with decades of legal experience, wasn't altogether thrilled with the notion of now being known as "the gay judge." Still, he has to admit, this appointment is a pretty big deal: "I'm comfortable that the merits of this appointment are the most important, and those who know me" will feel that way, he says. "But for those who don't know me, I think the fact that a person of diversity has been appointed is enormously important."

When we asked the judge -- legally married to his partner of 34 years, Colin Alexander -- how he'd rule on a case involving the merits of same-sex marriage, he said "Can you skip that one?" But we pressed, and he gave us an answer.

SAN FRANCISCO SUPERIOR COURT
  • San Francisco Superior Court
Just as Albers couldn't rule on a matter involving Chevron if he was a major shareholder in the company or on a case in which he personally witnessed the event in question, the judge admitted that cases involving same-sex marriage are too near and dear for him to be an impartial arbitrator.

"I think it'd be improper for me to sit on [such a case] because of my vested interest in it."

Albers, who lives in Bernal Heights, has served as a commissioner of the Superior Court since 2002 -- and has presided over the controversial Community Justice Center since it opened this year.

He was an attorney in the Public Defender's office from 1979 to 2001 before his job with the superior court.

"For me, I am of the opinion that I personally have moved far beyond the category of being gay and being cubbyholed in that way through the various opportunities I've had in the legal profession and the courts," says Albers, who was not anticipating the recent call from the Governor's office informing him of his promotion.

Regarding his career as an openly gay jurist, he noted "it's all been positive."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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