Louis Goodman / Hon. Veronica Rios Reddick – Transcript
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Louis Goodman 00:03
Welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. Today, we welcome the Honorable Veronica A. Rios Reddick to the podcast. Before joining the bench, Judge Rios Reddick worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. She has tried numerous felony and misdemeanor cases to jury verdict. She has advocated for victims rights, supervised attorneys, and law clerks, and worked In the collaborative courts, she has numerous professional and community service awards and has been an active longtime member of the Alameda County Bar Association. Judge Rios Reddick, welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast.
Judge Rios Reddick 00:51
Thank you so much, Mr. Goodman, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Louis Goodman 00:55
Well, we’re really honored to have you. Where are you speaking to us from right now?
Judge Rios Reddick 01:01
My chamber is in the East County Hall of Justice. I’m currently assigned to Department 702 in the East County Hall of Justice, which handles felony arraignments and pretrials. I feel very lucky to be here and very lucky to be in the assignment that I’m in.
Louis Goodman 01:16
Well, as we briefly discussed before we started recording, I think that the county and the attorneys who practice are very fortunate to have you doing the Department 702 assignment because it’s not an easy one and it’s a very busy, important felony assignment.
Judge Rios Reddick 01:32
Thank you for that. I appreciate it.
Louis Goodman 01:34
You had kind of an interesting experience right after your appointment to the bench, which prevented you from actually starting working right away as a judge. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Judge Rios Reddick 01:48
So, you know, in the appointment process, you never know when it’s going to happen. You know, if you’re lucky enough, you know, I submitted my application and I didn’t know if or ever I was going to get the call. I wind up getting the call when I’m about seven, eight months pregnant. And so with my fourth child, I worked for about a month and then I went on maternity leave. And so during that first month, I was situated at Wiley Manuel. I handled traffic and the misdemeanor felon misdemeanor arraignment and pretrial calendar department went away. So I kind of was like I would sub in whatever needed for a month. I was appointed on October 7th, the press release came out of 2022. I was sworn in October 10th of 2022. And I started that next day at Wiley Manuel.
And then I was off in November. I had my son on November 17th. So I was off on leave. I returned and then came to the East County Hall of Justice. And my original assignment was preliminary hearings and jury trials. So I got one trial under my belt and about 15 preliminary hearings, and then Judge Blay retired from Department 702.
And so we needed a judge to step in at Department 702, and you know, I thought it’d be a great opportunity. I was actually the District Attorney, appearing on behalf of the District Attorney. I was a Deputy District Attorney in 702, so I was quite familiar. with what happens in that court, and I felt comfortable assuming that position, and I think it’s been a pretty smooth transition, but I just feel really lucky to, you know, have four kids been appointed. You know, the staff, everyone’s been very, very supportive. I just feel very lucky to be in the position that I’m in.
Louis Goodman 03:34
Where are you from originally?
Judge Rios Reddick 03:35
I grew up in El Cerrito, born and raised in the Bay Area. I went to St. Mary’s high school in Berkeley, I went to UC Berkeley undergrad, and then I went to UC college of the law in San Francisco. So very, very born and raised local.
Being from the Bay Area, I never wanted to leave. My family’s pretty close knit. My husband’s family’s from the Bay Area as well. So I never had a desire to go away to school. I like to travel, but I always knew that I wanted my roots here. When I went to law school, I thought the District Attorney’s Office in Alameda County was the best fit for me. And so it just is. It just kind of naturally progressed that I was going to always be local.
Louis Goodman 04:23
Did you take any time off between college and law school or did you just go straight through?
Judge Rios Reddick 04:27
So it took me, well actually I graduated early technically from undergrad because everyone says you need time in between, but I was really, I wanted to start working. I wanted to start contributing, helping my family. And so I graduated UC Berkeley in three years. And that year in between, that would have been my fourth year I worked. I ran an after school program, a literacy program, in East and West Oakland. And I was working at Skyline High School and McClymon High School.
And so while I was doing that, and I ran the program at Hoover Elementary. So I was bouncing from those different programs, and I ran the program at Hoover Elementary in West Oakland. And during that time, that was my time off. And then I enrolled and got in early acceptance to UC College of the Law, San Francisco. I still need to get used to saying that, but I wanted to make sure I said it right on the podcast. And yes, I did take a, I guess, technically a year off.
Louis Goodman 05:25
What started you thinking about being a lawyer? And when did you kind of decide, you know, I really want to be a lawyer, that’s my career path?
Judge Rios Reddick 05:35
I remember taking in high school, they have the PSAT or some sort of test that determines what you should do. And a lawyer was one of them, but I never thought that that was a realistic goal. I was very argumentative always, you can ask my parents. So I’m sure they always thought I’d be a lawyer, but I didn’t know. I didn’t know until I was in undergrad at UC Berkeley and a couple of people were talking about pre law society and going to law school, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
I know that I wanted to afford a certain type of lifestyle for myself, but I didn’t know what that entailed. I thought I wanted to go to business school. I took, I remember business administration 100 and I hated it. And so I was like, let me, I’m still trying to figure it out.
So I went to a pre law society event, and there was a panel, and it was all women of color, and they were all lawyers in varying fields. And so, you know, I was hearing from them, and I, because to me, a lawyer only did one thing. I had no idea you could be general counsel, in-house counsel. I didn’t know what all those different options were. And I was just like, oh, well, maybe this is something I should look into.
I then did a little bit more research. It was like, you know what, I can go to law school and not practice law. But still secure a certain type of lifestyle for myself and requires certain amount of money. And so I was like, I’m going to go to law school and just see what happens. I had no intention of necessarily practicing law, but I knew with the advanced degree, I can create more options for myself. I wasn’t kind of set.
My first year at UC College of the Law, San Francisco, the Black Law Student Association had a panel of lawyers and there was a actually now sitting judge on the panel, but she worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and hearing from her, her perspective, I always thought that prosecutors were white men. I did not know that there were women of color that prosecuted cases. I wasn’t aware. I kind of the stereotypical idea of what a prosecutor looked like. And to hear from her and her perspective and her wanting to give back to her community, wanting to protect the victims. I really identified with that. And really felt like I wanted to do that. So I decided to pursue an internship in the District Attorney’s Office. I summered there my 2nd summer and I got offered a job upon passing the bar. I passed the bar and then I’ve been working there until I got appointed in 2022.
Louis Goodman 08:01
Tell us a little bit about your career as a Deputy District Attorney. How long were you there and what sort of assignments did you have?
Judge Rios Reddick 08:08
So I, I started January 25th, 2010 in the District Attorney’s Office. I summered there, but that’s when I started working and I worked there just short of 13 years. And in the District Attorney’s Office at the time that I worked there, there was kind of like a, a routine path. You would try misdemeanors and then you would do a preliminary hearing assignment. You would then take those felony skills that you obtained putting on preliminary hearings and go back to misdemeanors and doing a rotation and handling the more, the higher level misdemeanors. And then you go to felony trials.
I did all of that. I did a stint at felony trials at the Hayward Hall of Justice when they used to have criminal there. I also did a felony trials at the East County Hall of Justice where I’m sitting now. I tried cases vertically, which is from inception to trial. So I put on, I was at arraignment. I did all the pre trials. I put on the preliminary hearing and then I would put the matter onto verdict.
And I did, I was doing PXs and trials. I also did a lot of calendar assignments throughout, so I covered like 501, which is a criminal calendar in Hayward. I’ve covered 108, was the criminal calendar in Oakland. I’ve covered the criminal calendar in Fremont. I covered 702, which was the criminal calendar in the East County Hall of Justice. I then transferred over and I did a few preliminary hearings since. I think I did 3 or 4.
I also, my last assignment before appointment was at the collaborative court. Which was very transformative for me. I was the collaborative court’s coordinator, so I handled parole reentry, homeless and caring court, early intervention court, veterans treatment court, as well as the military diversion, which is the misdemeanor form. And I also did clean slate.
And so handling all of those assignments, like I said, was very transformative because you go from the mind of a prosecutor to more of like a collaborative effort and trying to figure out what the root of the problem is. And I’ve always been that kind of DA where to me, the criminal conduct is a consequence of something else.
It’s not just the fact that they did the crime. I always wanted to know why. And if I could fashion something in my offer to address it, whether it’s alcohol, narcotics. Impulse control or anger management. If they had, you know, post traumatic stress disorder from trauma, therapy, counseling. I would always try to fashion to offer that included that because for me, you need to deal with the underlying issue or that individual is going to return and being in the collaborative courts really reinforce that concept because these are evidence-based practices.
And so, I went in there having that kind of sense, but not really knowing what the evidence-based practices indicated. And then having case managers and specialists all come in to kind of reinforce what I’d already thought all along.
Louis Goodman 11:03
What do you think is the best advice you’ve received in your career, and what advice would you give to a young person just coming into the law?
Judge Rios Reddick 11:11
Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think for me, and I think for a lot of lawyers, a lot of us are type A, and we are just like, going down this little rabbit hole. We have these goals, these desires. We have these things that we want to hit, these marks. And I just realized that, you know, in the grand scheme of life, these moments that you think that are going to like blow up, it’s not as devastating as you think that it is.
I feel like I put a lot of undue pressure on myself to kind of move forward and to reach these goals. But at the end of the day, the route may be a windy route. Some people have a straight route to their goal and they get where they want to be. And they’re the supervisor. They run everything. Some of us, it’s a windy route.
So I think that’s the biggest thing is just don’t be so hard on yourself. And so when someone meets me and wants my support, I want to support them. And I always try to convey to them, like, be kind to yourself.
Louis Goodman 12:06
What prompted you to seek an appointment to the bench?
Judge Rios Reddick 12:11
When I first got into the District Attorney’s Office. I thought that I will, I was like, maybe a judge, but I didn’t know. And I actually, I saw judge Rhines in 501. I saw judge Cartwright at the Renee C. Davidson courthouse. And I saw judge Burgess in 11. I think she was a supervising judge. And when I saw the three of them, I saw someone that looked like me. That talked like me and they were a judge. Because again, it’s just lack of exposure. I’d never seen a woman of color be a prosecutor until I saw that one District Attorney or Deputy District Attorney. And at that time as a young DA, I’d never seen a woman of color judge really either that I identified with. And all three of them I did.
And it kind of reinforced me that it was possible because I I’m a firm believer. If you don’t see it, you can’t believe in it. And so seeing judges that look like me, that talk like me, that watch the shows that I liked, I remember we talked about Project Runway and talking about shoes and bags. I was just like, Oh, this is amazing. There’s judges like me out there? And so I thought that it was possible.
But the process really scared me because one thing I do is I educate myself when I want to do something like in undergrad. I thought I wanted to go to high school of business. So I took BA 100 or 101 and hated it.
So because I was thinking about being a judge, I immersed myself in what the process was. And when I learned what the process was, it just scared me. Like the application in itself. It was scary. And then the idea of all of California commenting on me, any attorney I’ve ever been around the non disclosure, the JNE questionnaire form. So anyone can say whatever they want about you without, you know, it scared me.
And I just really, you feel vulnerable when you apply. I mean, I did. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I felt very vulnerable. I’m like, this is what I’d like to do. I’ve always felt like it’s important to be an example and a pillar in your community. So I just thought that this would be an opportunity to do so, but I was afraid for a long time. If I’m being honest.
But I finally decided after COVID, I was just like, you know what? I’m going to just put my hat in there. It’s something that I thought about doing and I just can’t let my fear run me. And so I put my hat in and it was one of those things where I was like, If they want me, they do, they don’t, they don’t, you know, I did the best that I could, I worked as hard as I could. And I felt like I’ve always fundamentally treated people the way I wanted to be treated, which sounds silly, but surprising how many people don’t.
And so I put my hat in and I was lucky enough, governor Newsom and appointment secretary provided me the privilege to be on the bench.
Louis Goodman 14:54
What can lawyers do to be better prepared to go to court and specifically, what kinds of things do you look for in attorneys that are appearing in front of you?
Judge Rios Reddick 15:08
So, for me, preparation is always key. You need to know your case. And if you need time to pass your case, I’ve had attorneys come and say, Oh, I haven’t had an opportunity to review the police report yet. And I’ll say, do you want to pass the case? I want to make sure that all parties are prepared before they appear before me and they could proceed and make the best argument either on behalf of their client or on behalf of the people. Preparation is key. And I was the DA in 702 during COVID when we were one of the only two court, two or three courtrooms open in the entire County.
We had over a hundred cases a day on, and I was prepared on every single one of them. And so I kind of have the feeling like if I can do it, you can do it. Case management is important to me and we have to move these cases forward. But I would say preparation is key.
Louis Goodman 15:58
Let’s say you came into some real money, three or four billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?
Judge Rios Reddick 16:09
I’d have a bunch of nannies. I have four kids, no nanny. I have family support, but yeah, I’d definitely have some nannies, some, some household supervisors that clean toilets perhaps.
What would I do differently? Yeah, I would just have some more me time. I mean, my kids are. My oldest is about to be nine, but they’re nine and under. I have four, nine and under. My youngest is almost 10 months. So I’m in a difficult time. I’m not going to curse. And so, yeah, if I could have more help at home, that would be great. Maybe a driver to pick up and drop off my kids, if they’re bearing sport events and dance events, that would be nice.
And also if I, you know, 4 billion, I would want to donate and give money to the community. And, you know, some people may think, oh, that’s, you know, but I really feel that way. I think that crime is a consequence of not enough proper funding and resources in the beginning. And what I mean in the beginning is education and after school programs and sport programs.
I feel like for a lot of kids. Crimes are being committed after school and that’s because they’re not in proper programs and a lot of the individuals that start off in juvie, they wind up returning. And I know that because I was in juvenile and then I would later see them as adults. And so it was the same individuals coming back, coming back, instability at home, violence in the home, not having proper resources, and then they come back as adults committing more serious and violent felonies.
Louis Goodman 17:34
Judge, we have quite a few people on the call today, and I would like to open it up so that other people can have an opportunity to question or comment for you. And so I’m going to, going to open it up to some of the other people who are on the call and let’s start with Helen Hoffel, can you unmute and if you have a question or a comment for Judge Rios Reddick?
Helen Hoffel 18:01
Hi Judge, thank you for being on today. It’s been great to hear your story. I did some appeals with the First District Appellate Project and so many of my clients had mental health issues. Issues that led to their crimes, and in doing collaborative court, could you say how the courts can help address this issue, which I think is so huge, in addition to substance abuse?
Judge Rios Reddick 18:27
It is huge. I, when I was in the collaborative courts, did not handle the mental health calendar, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office at the time that I was there, I can’t speak to presently. But I know that they have a behavioral health court, which handles primarily the felonies. And then there’s an informal mental health diversion calendar. And I think they are expanding the options.
But I think what’s so important is getting a proper diagnosis. And that’s just my experience and life experience and seeing a lot of cases where I thought mental health was. And the thing is, mental health and substance abuse, a lot of it is just so, It’s linked and it’s connected in such a way that once you really get into it, is it really because of the drugs that’s causing a psychotic break or is it really the underlying mental health?
So I think that it’s really important for people to get diagnosed properly and then medicated if needed. Not everyone needs medication as well as if there’s any substance abuse, but also additional counseling because a lot of it comes from trauma, from childhood trauma. So I think that it’s important.
It takes a team, especially mental substance abuse as well, because my experience with Veterans Treatment Court, which primarily was substance abuse issues, it really takes a team. And there’s a lot of ups and downs, but it’s about minimizing the downs and what happens at that time. And if they do relapse for some reason that they don’t reoffend. They may relapse, but they’re not picking up a new case.
So I think that it takes a social worker. It takes a mental health clinician. It takes, you know, advocates and caseworkers, case managers. It takes a team of people. I think for the behavioral health court, I think there’s 5 or 6 people that are assigned to any given individual for varying purposes to make sure that they get the support that they need because it takes a village to really support someone.
And I think what’s difficult is for a lot of people what I’ve heard is that, you know, they’ll start taking their meds and they feel great and then they stop.
Louis Goodman 20:24
All right, thank you. Cynd Hernandez.
Cynd Hernandez 20:27
Good afternoon, Judge.
Judge Rios Reddick 20:29
Cynd Hernandez 20:30
Yeah, it just makes me happy to see to see you. Makes me feel like we have some justice going on and I can’t wait. Yes, I can’t wait to start practicing in Alameda. Now, I have a question just about private counsel, because I’ll be just starting up again. If, for instance, if you had a big dogfight case and you had a whole bunch of spectators and maybe they were charged with crimes and a deal was coming down and you just needed everybody to be represented by an attorney right then, you didn’t want to continue it. And you had 15 spectators. Would you call on counsel that was in your courtroom to step in and represent?
Judge Rios Reddick 21:13
For me, I never feel a rush to get something done that day. That’s never the issue. If I feel like individuals have a fifth amendment right, which is the right against self-incrimination, if they were spectators and possibly participating in furthering the crime or inciting or whatever the case may be, and I’ve had to do this before, I’ve had to put the case over so that, ’cause the Public Defender usually comes in first, they then need to conflict out. Then we have to get court appointed attorneys in if they’re financially eligible. And so for me, I would never rush to try to get a deal done. If someone’s rights are at issue, we’re going to take the time to handle it.
I think that it’s important that everyone understands what they’re getting into because my time in the District Attorney’s Office, a lot of times, and whether it be true or not, defendants would return and say, I didn’t understand that I wasn’t supposed to do that. I didn’t understand that I was, I was supposed to stay away from this person or I didn’t know I couldn’t be on BART at this location. So I’m very sensitive to that. So when I’m on the bench, I make sure like, if there’s an added term, I’ll ask for a break for the attorney to make sure that their client really understands what they’re signing up for, because they are giving away rights.
And I think that is important that everyone’s represented and that they understand. So there’d never be a rush. And I would make sure that everyone who needed counsel would have be afforded that opportunity and not only getting counsel, but proper amount of time to talk to them to make sure they understand what’s happening.
Louis Goodman 22:40
Thank you, Judge. Matt Gonçalves.
Matt Gonçalves 22:43
Good afternoon to both of you. I just wanted to meet some of the judges that came aboard during this COVID time.
Judge Rios Reddick 22:52
Well, it’s lovely to meet you. That’s what’s so nice about Mr. Goodman’s podcast. You have an opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to meet and kind of hear their story, which I think is important because you get to know more about the person, understanding where they come from.
Matt Gonçalves 23:06
I’m already a Lou Goodman fan. I never met you before, but I was already a Louis Goodman fan before today.
Louis Goodman 23:14
Well, I have to leave that as in part of the edit then.
Judge Rios Reddick 23:19
That’s the important part. You want to highlight that, Mr. Goodman.
Louis Goodman 23:22
We’ll raise the volume a little.
Judge Rios Reddick 23:25
Right. A little louder.
Louis Goodman 23:26
Stephanie Prieto 23:28
Hi, good afternoon to you both as well. Thank you again for putting this on. I did work with Miss Rios Reddick while she was in collaborative court. So it’s great to see you and I was happy to see that, you know, made your way up and I’m glad to also see you 1 day in the courtroom as well when I’m before you and I think the biggest question I had was you mentioned that when you thought that judgeship would be, you know, something that you would look into. You looked into the process and what it entails. Do you have any recommendations for younger attorneys and setting up their path, if that is the pathway that they think may be also an option for them as well? Any recommendations that you wish you knew then that you know now?
Judge Rios Reddick 24:17
Absolutely. First, thank you. Join the local bar associations. That is so very important because part of the appointment process is you’re going to have to have 75 attorneys that will vouch for you and that’s 75 attorneys. You just know. 75 attorneys that will say Stephanie Prieto is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
And that’s what they’re looking for. Okay. Also, you’re going to have questionnaires sent out to other people. So not even people that are part of your 75, you also have to have five personal references. So you need to know hundreds of lawyers. And so the only way you could do that, like that’s why usually a lot of District Attorneys and Public Defenders historically have been appointed because just in the nature of the field, there’s two, 300 coworkers, you know, or 150 coworkers, and then you meeting all the attorneys with the varying assignments.
So especially if you’re not in that kind of circumstance, the Bar Association is the best way to get your name out there, to meet people, to network. And also, I think that it’s important to participate in your local community. If you want to be a judge in a specific county. You need to participate in that county.
You want to give back to your community. You not only want to be someone that’s going to be there in practice, but that you’re doing things, you’re doing active things to show that you really care. You got, you got to get out there and you have to network. I also think it’s important community service, you know, and you could do that through the bar association.
But I think that, you know, so many people are focused on their legal career and who they’re working for and what they’re doing, but there’s also a community service aspect that you really need to think about. And it doesn’t have to be in the typical way, you know, if you have kids, you know, The PTA or if you’re, you know, you coach little league or you, you know, you’re part of a sorority or whatever, but some sort of community service, I think is very important to show that you’re committed to your community.
Louis Goodman 26:14
Thank you. Barbara Green.
Barbara Green 26:17
Oh, congratulations, Judge. What I’d like to know is have you had to refuse yourself because of your past work experience?
Judge Rios Reddick 26:27
So there’s a disclosure that I do every morning, being a former employee of the District Attorney’s Office, now under judicial ethics because I made sure to get all that verified that it is acceptable for me to appear before cases that I haven’t personally done anything substantive on. So just because I’ve been a District Attorney does not recuse me from all cases, as you can tell, because there’s a lot of former DAs that are judges.
However, it is a personal call. If there’s a case that I’ve touched and I substantively know about it. I will recuse myself. There haven’t been many and that there’s an individual either from the defense or the District Attorney’s Office that I have a close personal relationship with. I disclosed. I err on the side of more cautious and I ask if counsel have an issue. But again, ultimately, it’s my call whether or not I recuse myself.
I think I less than 10 times. I’ve refused myself from a case. Because I felt like I couldn’t, but that’s because I did something substantive on it and me handling it would have been inappropriate.
Louis Goodman 27:28
Michael Johnson, do you have a comment or a question for Judge Rios Reddick?
Michael Johnson 27:34
First of all, it’s a pleasure to finally hear from you and I’ve only seen you in different events or whatever in the past, so thank you.
I had the opportunity to serve as a pro tem on many occasions. I’d like to know if you would be open to me observing your court sometime and learn from you?
Judge Rios Reddick 27:51
Oh, absolutely. We have a Blue Jeans option, which I think everyone’s, it’s a lot easier, but also, yes, I welcome the public into the court. And so whatever I can do to assist you, I’d love to do that.
Michael Johnson 28:04
Thank you very much. I’ll take you up on that for sure.
Judge Rios Reddick 28:06
Michael Johnson 28:08
Okay. That’s all I have. Mr. Goodman.
Louis Goodman 28:09
Thank you. Steven Richardson.
Steven Richardson 28:12
Just wanted to say thank you, Judge. And you’re definitely taking over for a really good man. I knew Judge Blay personally. My daughters, they’d have a little Easter thing every year, and so. Good guy. And just really nice hearing your story.
Judge Rios Reddick 28:30
Thank you. Yeah, Judge Blay has always been lovely to me. Like I said, I was in 702 with Judge Blay as a District Attorney, and he’s a very lovely man. It was a tremendous loss losing him for Alameda County, but I’m a big proponent of retirement and living your best next life. I’ve seen him recently. He looks great.
Louis Goodman 28:49
Ocean Motley, can you unmute and join us?
Ocean Motley 28:54
Yes, thank you very much. Mr. Goodman, I love your podcast. It’s great. I try to join this whenever I can. It’s such a great idea. It’s nice to get to know folks in the court system and such an honor to hear from you, Judge.
Thank you so much for, you know, your vulnerability and just sharing your background and the struggles you’ve had to get where you got. Yeah, I’ve had a circuitous route myself to where I’m at. I’m a convicted felon and went to jail and then later went to law school and became an attorney. I currently work at Barrie Legal Aid in our re entry unit, you know, working on expungement petitions. And, you know, due to my background and the type of work that I do, I’ve always sort of considered the District Attorney’s Office as the enemy. But you are the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s been a pleasure to work with you as a public counsel. It was an honor to support your nomination for judgeship.
Judge Rios Reddick 29:41
Ocean Motley 29:42
Question: I’ve worked in both civil court and criminal court, and I’ve had many friends who are Public Defenders. I was even a union rep for District Attorney’s Office in Butte County many years ago, and criminal courts tend to be pretty toxic. People are angry. Judges are mean. People are rough on each other. There’s a lot of table pounding. But when I work with you, you’re one of the most professional attorneys I’ve ever worked with. You work the law, calm, cold, easy to work with people willing to negotiate, willing to say, Oh, hey, what’s this? Give me some law on this. And I’ll, you know, what’s your mindset when you went in as an attorney, how did you stay so focused on the big goal and not get caught up in all the other distractions that are going on?
Judge Rios Reddick 30:26
I keep saying it, but it’s just, I treat people the way I want to be treated. And so I, going throughout my life, I haven’t been treated very nicely by some people. And so those moments had a huge impact on me. And I remember Each moment being like, I would never do that to someone.
And that’s as a young individual, as going through law school, or as being a young District Attorney. And so I remember thinking, you know, if I was ever lucky enough to become a lawyer, this is what I’m going to do. If I’m ever lucky enough to be a DA, this is what I’m going to do. And I think you just can’t take stuff personal.
I think a lot of people take things really personally. And what I realized is we all have a job to do. Okay? And I think I’m good at compartmentalizing that, you know, defense is going to do what they do, DA is going to do what they’re going to do. Everyone has their arguments, but there’s no reason to not be respectful. There’s no reason to not listen. And there’s no reason to take it personal. You know, it’s not a personal attack. And I think a lot of people feel like arguments are made and they’re a personal attack on that person. And there are times where I did take things personal. I wasn’t perfect. I mean, we’re all human, but I just kept on holding on to the idea of like, I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me. So why would I do that to them? And that’s why I very much carry on the bench.
I think about the times I had judges yell at me. Scream at me, berate me. And so I make a point to let everyone feel heard. They’re going to get their time and I’m not going to always rule in their favor, but I think that there’s a way to do that by letting people voice their opinions, their thoughts, give them opportunity to be heard. And then I explain my rulings afterwards, you know, so that they understand that I’m not just making a snap decision. And I heard what was presented before me.
Louis Goodman 32:17
Thank you, Judge. Jacqueline Nuño.
Jacqueline Nuño 32:20
Hi, Judge. I’m a newer attorney, so you mentioned that you had four little ones, and I’m just wondering, how do you find work life balance, you know, especially now as a judge and even as an attorney, how do you handle all of that?
Judge Rios Reddick 32:32
So, it takes a village, but my husband’s amazing. I couldn’t do, like, and I was, I was a part of so many bar associations, doing MCLEs, having meetings. My husband, my mother, and my mother in law, that’s like, the go-to, you know, when I was in trial, my husband knew I was useless. And that I wasn’t helping him until after hours.
If the kid was sick. I’m not it. You go get them, you know, and so I think it takes a lot of clear communication. You need to have a support system and it doesn’t have to be your spouse or your partner. It could be family, all my family, my husband’s family’s local. And so if something comes up, we can reach out to someone. But by and large, it’s my husband.
Whenever I got an award, the first person I was thinking was him because I couldn’t have done it with my kids. I have a going to be nine year old later this week. I have a six year old. I have a four year old and I have almost 10 month old. And so it, and they all play sports. At least the older ones do, they all have activities and play dates. So it gets complicated, but it’s just really clear communication family shared calendars. My OCD kind of helps because I’m like, okay, you do pick up. I do drop off. When are you coming? Okay. I text the check, but it really takes, you have to have support.
I don’t know how people do without family local. I don’t know how it may be. I think for those people that I have talked to, they create their own system. Friends, neighbors, whatever the case may be, I’m lucky to have family on both sides local. So that’s how I’m able to do it. And my husband has always been very, very supportive. And so if there’s something that I told him I wanted to do and we discussed it, he supported me.
But you can’t do it without supportive family, friends, you need to have support if you’re gonna, you know, have kids or whatever the case may be and try to proceed on in your career. And that’s in any field. It’s not just being a lawyer or a judge.
Louis Goodman 34:30
I don’t think I’ve spoken to you, Judge Rios Reddick since you ascended and I just wanted to congratulate you. I also, you’re very welcome. It’s, it’s great to see another, to see a woman of color, you know, ascend. It’s wonderful. I want to ask you why you chose, why you didn’t choose the commissioner route? I’m a little curious as to your kind of your thought process?
Judge Rios Reddick 34:57
I didn’t think about it too hard. I just, you know, when I was applying, I just, I thought judge. I never, it wasn’t like I don’t want to be a commissioner. I just applied. And I know for some judges, they start off as a commissioner and I know the process is a little different. I’ve been learning more about it now that I am a judge, but sites were always set on becoming a judge.
I kind of faltered throughout my career because the process just seemed really grueling, but that’s just the thought. And when I have talked to commissioners, they’ve told me the commissioners that have now become judges, they’ve said that there is a difference. Now, for me, I don’t know what the difference is for each of them, but they’ve said that there’s a clear difference being a commissioner versus a judge. And I don’t know if that is a pay thing or, you know, assignments. I know that they have to wait to have a commissioner each time, but I’ve always had my sights set on judge. It wasn’t that I said no to commissioner. I just was like, I want to be a judge. And that’s why I went that route.
Louis Goodman 35:55
All right. Thank you, Judge.
I have one more question for you, your honor. Is there anything that you want to talk about that we have not discussed and that you haven’t had a chance to address? Something that you wanted to address to this podcast or this group?
Judge Rios Reddick 36:11
I do. I just want to thank everyone that supported my application. I just, I think some of the comments people gave me and attorneys that I didn’t realize that I had such a positive impact on.
People, you know, especially after I got appointed, it was because, you know, I know my 75. I know my five personal references. I know those people were rooting for me because I asked them specifically. Are you rooting for me? Can I count on your vote? But there’s just such an outpour from Alameda County, the defense bar, private, like I just, especially after I got appointed, just people were so lovely and I just, I really want to express my gratitude and appreciation of all the lawyers that took the time out to fill out the questionnaires, all the attorneys that called back and, you know, provided context and information about me and that were helpful and got me to where I am.
So I just really want to say thank you to everyone. I appreciate everyone because there are times you’ll have a good interaction with someone, but you won’t take that next step to tell someone else. And so for everyone that took that next step, I really appreciate you. I thank you. I would not be here without you. So thank you to everyone.
Louis Goodman 37:27
Judge Veronica Rios Reddick, thank you so much for joining us today at the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure for us to talk to you.
Judge Rios Reddick 37:40
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. I appreciate all of you guys get logged on to listen to me rant and rave. I appreciate your time and I wanna wish all of you the best in your legal career. Like I said, be kind to yourself and you know, just move forward as best you can.
Louis Goodman 37:56
That’s it for today’s edition of Love Thy Lawyer in collaboration with the Alameda County Bar Association. Please visit the lovethylawyer.com website where you can find links to all of our episodes. Also, please visit the Alameda County Bar Association Website at ACBAnet.org, where you can find more information about our support of the legal profession, promoting excellence in the legal profession and facilitating equal access to justice.
Special thanks to ACBA president Pamela Ross and Criminal Justice Chair Annie Beles, staff members Cailin Dahlin, Sayeed Randall, Valerie Brown Lescroart and Hadassah Hayashi.
Thanks to Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Robert for social media and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.
Judge Rios Reddick 38:47
If your client has a hundred failures to appear, let’s address how they’re going to get back to court.