Hon. Stuart Hing – Transcript
Louis Goodman 00:07
In collaboration with the Alameda County Bar Association, this is Love Thy Lawyer, where we talk with members of the ACBA about their lives and legal careers. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the LTL podcast and yes, I’m a member of the Alameda County Bar Association.
Louis Goodman 00:25
Judge Stuart Hing was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court by the Terminator himself, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I first met judge Hing when we served together in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. He has a list of volunteer and professional service awards that goes on for pages. Always playing the odds, he was the only male board member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, but what has always impressed me about judge Hing is that he played lead guitar in a band that opened for Earth, Wind and Fire. Judge Stuart Hing, welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast.
Judge Stuart Hing 01:12
All right. Hi everyone. And thanks, Louis and thanks to the Alameda County Bar Association for this.
Louis Goodman 01:20
It’s a real pleasure to have you. Judge, we’ve known each other for quite a while and I’m wondering if you could tell us right now, what job you were doing.
Judge Stuart Hing 01:33
Ah, I know when I first met you because you taught me about preliminary examinations. I don’t know if you remember, Louis, but I followed you around when you were a prosecutor. I was a law student and you showed me how to do preliminary examinations and I was able to accompany you and watch you and you filled me in all the way. And I’ll never forget that. But that had to be in the early eighties.
Louis Goodman 02:02
Yeah, it must have been, or the early to mid eighties, that’s when I was in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and we were there together. Yeah, you’ve mentioned that to me a couple of times in the past. I’ve always been very, very proud of that. Thank you. So you’re sitting as a judge now on the Alameda County Superior Court. What is your assignment?
Judge Stuart Hing 02:22
Right now I’m doing felony arraignments and in-custody misdemeanor arraignments for the East County Hall of Justice. So it’s basically half the county. If you think of the county as north and south, I’ve got the Southern part as well as the Eastern part.
Louis Goodman 02:42
And are you able to do most of that from home since we’re in the middle of this COVID thing?
Judge Stuart Hing 02:49
Yes. In fact, except for several weeks, when I was in a bit for trials, I’m doing all of this remotely from home.
Louis Goodman 02:58
Where are you from originally?
Judge Stuart Hing 02:59
Louis Goodman 03:02
Did you go to high school there?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:04
Yeah. High school, everything in Sacramento.
Louis Goodman 03:07
What high school did you go to?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:08
I went to Burbank for my sophomore year when that was the first year of high school. I don’t think it’s that way anymore and then Kennedy for my junior and senior year.
Louis Goodman 03:17
And were you involved in music?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:20
Oh yeah. Yeah. That was my main thing all the way through high school and college.
Louis Goodman 03:26
I know you played keyboards and I know you played guitar. Uh, did you get involved in both of those things when you were in high school?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:34
I started on piano, that’s I think how I got introduced to music and then eventually I evolved to guitar.
Louis Goodman 03:41
After you graduated from high school, where’d you go to college?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:43
Sacramento City College, and then eventually, California State University Sacramento.
Louis Goodman 03:49
What did you study when you were in college?
Judge Stuart Hing 03:51
I actually got an AA degree in music, so I was destined in my own mind to become a musician, professional musician. I started out in music, got a degree in music.
Louis Goodman 04:04
And did you at any point in your life earn a living playing music?
Judge Stuart Hing 04:08
Oh yeah. Yeah. I would say through high school, college. I remember taking late college college classes where my first class wouldn’t start until two in the afternoon and I remember studying on stage at the organ at night during performances. I still remember those days.
Louis Goodman 04:33
And what sort of music did you play?
Judge Stuart Hing 04:35
My love was jazz, but to make a living I played what was called funk at the time. I think it would be called R&B now, but I played almost anything. I played gospel. I played background for a Country Western. Played big band stuff, musicals, state fair, Disneyland. You name it almost anything that paid, like a studio musician.
Louis Goodman 05:01
That’s just so impressive.
Judge Stuart Hing 05:05
Yeah. You mentioned earth went and fire. And we actually opened for them twice.
Louis Goodman 05:10
Where was that?
Judge Stuart Hing 05:11
It was in Sacramento, at the Sacramento Memorial auditorium.
Louis Goodman 05:15
How many people were there?
Judge Stuart Hing 05:17
Oh, my gosh, it was filled. You really can’t see when you’re up there. My sister at the time attended, she said it was backed, but I was starstruck there with Earth, Wind and Fire, and you know, very nervous because they’re backstage watching you. And at that time they used to take care of the opening acts and they were so such a class act. And I eventually got to know them and visit one of them, one of the bass players later when he was traveling and playing in a concert here in Concord. And although he says he remembers me, I think he was just being nice.
Louis Goodman 05:55
Well, you never know. Well, so I think that sort of that being on stage and having so many people focused on you is probably a skill that helps when you’re sitting as a judge.
Judge Stuart Hing 06:08
You know, it’s funny you say that. I thought about it when I became an attorney that you’re trying to present something and you wanna do it well, so that it’s interesting. So I thought of it as an attorney, but I’ve never thought about it as a judge, to be honest, it’s been so long ago. This was all in the seventies, in the early eighties.
Louis Goodman 06:28
I haven’t sat as a judge the way you have, but I have sat occasionally pro tem in some traffic matters and some misdemeanor matters in other counties and I’ve always thought that the view of the courtroom, no matter how many times you’ve been in there as an attorney, the view of the courtroom from the bench is really, really different and really frightening.
Judge Stuart Hing 06:57
I would agree. I still remember the first time I went out on the bench as a judge and I was nervous and frightened. And then when the clerk said, “You gotta give your spiel.” and I go, “Give my spiel? What do you mean by that?” And I’ll never forget that. The way you describe it, Louis is perfect.
Louis Goodman 07:20
So let me go back to, you graduated from college at Sacramento state and then you went to law school. Did you take any time off between college and law school?
Judge Stuart Hing 07:31
Yes. I actually went on the road and I tried to make the living and that’s where I learned that being a musician wasn’t something that I could make a living at consistently. It’s a rough, it’s a very, very rough life.
Louis Goodman 07:47
Oh, I know. Yeah, I worked in the music industry as a road manager for Arista Records and Clive Davis.
Judge Stuart Hing 07:57
Oh my goodness. That’s big time. That’s huge. Clive Davis and Arista.
Louis Goodman 08:01
Well, he was big time. I wasn’t. So how long did you take off between college and the time you entered law school? Well, I actually went on the road and then I worked for Xerox for about three years between college and law school.
Louis Goodman 08:18
And where did you ultimately go to law school?
Judge Stuart Hing 08:20
McGeorge in Sacramento.
Louis Goodman 08:23
When did you first get the notion, “I wanna be a lawyer. I wanna go to law school.”?
Judge Stuart Hing 08:30
Well, it was definitely after I knew I wasn’t gonna to be a professional musician. And honestly it was when I was with Xerox. A few things kind of came together. I met lawyers I didn’t like. I was a salesperson for Xerox and I had to deal with a lot of lawyers for the purchasing agents for companies. And to be honest, there’s many that I thought were very rude. And I said, “I could do what you do, but not be such a jerk about it.” And then I met lawyers that I really admired too. And I said, “I like the way that that person is a lawyer.” And then I realized just making money at Xerox wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do. I wanted to do something that felt a little better to me. And that’s, I think where it all started, when I was at Xerox.
Louis Goodman 09:14
What was your experience like in law school when you went to McGeorge?
Judge Stuart Hing 09:17
Oh gosh, it was one of the toughest things I ever did. I’m grateful now because I think it’s one of the best professions, if not the best out there. I’ve been very fortunate, but it was very tough. It wasn’t something that was easy for me. I struggled I think. I felt I was always behind. I felt that I never got it. Things really didn’t come together for me until I would say studying for the bar when all of a sudden I understood what Iraq meant.
Louis Goodman 09:49
Yeah. Well, I think that when you study for the bar, when finally someone stands up there and tells you what it is, they’re really talking about. I had that same experience, you know, like you know, like finally they go, “Oh, that’s what they mean with contracts. That’s what they’re really talking about with offer acceptance consideration. That’s what they’re really talking about.” Yeah, I mean, really I got through law school okay but it really wasn’t until the bar that it kind of came together for me. And I really enjoyed studying for the bar because of that.
Judge Stuart Hing 10:29
Yeah. I hate to say it, but I, I was saying, why didn’t they tell me this at the beginning of law school?
Louis Goodman 10:37
Yeah. Then it wouldn’t be law school.
Judge Stuart Hing 10:39
Yeah. but it really came together at the time that you mentioned it came together for you, studying for the bar.
Louis Goodman 10:46
Was the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office your first legal job?
Judge Stuart Hing 10:51
Louis Goodman 10:51
So how did you happen to get there?
Judge Stuart Hing 10:54
I clerked at the Sacramento DA’s Office and I found that I really liked it there, and I liked the public service part of it when I was at McGeorge. So during a summer, I was able to get experience in the Sacramento DA’s Office. At the time my mom was in Sacramento, so I wanted to stay in Sacramento, but my dad was in Alameda County so then I got an opportunity in Alameda County and that’s where I ended up going. But my first experience and interest in say public service was in Sacramento at the DA’s office there.
Louis Goodman 11:30
And did you feel like kind of drawn to a prosecutor’s office?
Judge Stuart Hing 11:33
Yeah, I liked, I mean, I remember saying at the time I liked the trial work that I saw being conducted there and to me, the cases were so serious. Everything was serious there at the time to me and still is. I just felt it was something I could do. I couldn’t do the billable hour thing, although I’m not even sure if I could do it, but if I had a choice, I’d like to I think the trials more than the billable hour type of road.
Louis Goodman 12:01
How long were you in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office?
Judge Stuart Hing 12:05
Oh, 23 years.
Louis Goodman 12:07
Before you went on the bench?
Judge Stuart Hing 12:09
Louis Goodman 12:11
And so I assume that you did everything, you tried misdemeanor cases, you put on 1538s. You tried felony cases. You put on preliminary hearings.
Judge Stuart Hing 12:22
Yeah. Just like you.
Louis Goodman 12:25
Judge Stuart Hing 12:27
Yeah. Everything. But I’m sure there’s stuff I didn’t see. As, you know, Louis, you learn more as you get older in this.
Louis Goodman 12:35
I hope so.
Judge Stuart Hing 12:36
Yeah. I find it that way and I know you’re the same. I know you learn so much as time goes by.
Louis Goodman 12:44
And how long have you been on the bench now?
Judge Stuart Hing 12:45
Since 2008. So what is it, about 13 years? 14 years?
Louis Goodman 12:52
Wow. Yeah. You know, you’ve been involved in the practice of law on some level as a prosecutor, as a judge. What is it about being involved in the law and perhaps specifically being involved in the criminal justice system that you find interesting and attractive?
Judge Stuart Hing 13:14
Well, you’re trying to do what’s right in criminal justice. And even though I was a prosecutor, a lot of times you decide who doesn’t get charged, or if someone’s charged, how they’re charged and that affects their life considerably. And then if someone is prosecuted, obviously that has an effect on people. But as a prosecutor, you’re kind of a gatekeeper so you keep people out of the system as well as I guess charge people and they’re placed into the system. And I can tell you for sure, there’s a handful of people I just know I will never forget because their lives have changed so much. And although they probably think it changed for them, it really made a difference for me, seeing someone who’s been in the system and then get out of the system. So successfully.
Louis Goodman 14:04
If a young person was coming out of college and they were interested in going into a career in law, would you recommend that?
Judge Stuart Hing 14:13
Oh yeah. Yeah. And the reason, Louis, is I’ve only seen a small part of which is the criminal part of it, but I would say that’s maybe only 20% of the law. But the law touches almost everything. And the part that I’ve been in and been able to share the experiences with you to me are the best. I mean, I never say, dread going to work. I never look at the clock and wonder when time’s up. I remember in school, there were times I’d see the clock hand go back before it goes forward. And I never did that as a lawyer or as a judge.
Louis Goodman 14:50
You know, that’s really interesting because I find the same thing, you know. In school, I’d sit there and watch that clock do that same kind of tick. We must have had the same clock and as a lawyer, I’m always like, “Oh my God, look what time it is.” And it’s what I do is, I mean, sometimes it can be stressful, sometimes it can be difficult. Some sometimes it can be really bad. But it’s not boring and, well…
Judge Stuart Hing 15:20
I think that’s why there’s a lot of television shows, movies. You see a lot of programs like yours and speakers. I think there’s a reason for it.
Louis Goodman 15:31
Yeah. What advice would you give to a young person just starting out their career?
Judge Stuart Hing 15:35
I can say for some one say getting into criminal law, I would say one of the best experiences for me is actually doing as many jury trials as one could just to get experience and get that kind of experience and then trying to get mentors. And so that you could pick their brain and learn from them. You’ve been at a deeper level and watch as many people as you can, but I would say doing as many trials as you can to get the experience and then trying to learn from others.
Louis Goodman 16:10
Do you think we’re in a situation these days in the courts where it’s very difficult for young lawyers to get misdemeanor trials? Because it seems to me that 99% of cases that are not murder cases end up being resolved through some sort of a plea bargain.
Judge Stuart Hing 16:27
I think you’re right, Louis. In fact, when I was trying to get a lot of trials done, I remember people before me had even more trials. It was hard to believe that I guess it’s slowing down for everyone. It’s a trend. But I remember hearing people who were way more experienced than me telling me that they used to have a system where one jury would try many cases. And that’s how they got the cases. So many trials and I go, “Wow, that’s never been done for us. Nor would it ever be.”
Louis Goodman 16:57
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a completely different world. I mean, that might have been in the thirties and forties. Yeah. Well, you’re currently sitting as a judge. When did you start thinking about being a judge as a career move?
Judge Stuart Hing 17:11
You know, Louis, it never dawned on me that I wanted to be a judge, in fact I said something that I regret, which is, I used to be a tennis player and I used to say, when people brought up being a judge, that I’d rather be the player rather than say the umpire. And I felt kind of like a big shot when I said that, but now I realize that’s totally wrong. So I never really thought of it that way, Louis, but then there was happenstance. I don’t know if you remember when the governor’s committee for recruiting judges was a secret committee. No one knew about it. And little did I know there was someone on the committee that wanted me to apply and little did I know my wife actually worked for that judge and another judge just told me to apply and then I had another friend who was involved in politics, especially with the Terminator, governor Schwarzenegger.
And that’s what changed things for me. It literally took the friend of the governor telling me I should apply and then also another judge who knew this person on the secret committee telling me I should apply and then one thing led to another and I did that and it was the most fortunate thing that’s ever happened to me.
Louis Goodman 18:33
Do you enjoy being a judge? It sounds like you do.
Judge Stuart Hing 18:36
Yeah, I love it. I love the people that I work with and see all the time. In fact, that’s why I like a calendar, because you see a lot of different people all the time. Although you see some more than others, but I really like that part of it. And then there’s a part of it that I think as I was mentioning, there’s a reason why it’s on TV and in movies. There’s a part that’s just, it’s a sad slice on life sometimes, but it’s something that you never, I guess bored about and you really shouldn’t be. And it’s something that time just flies when you’re doing it and it’s, it’s really hard to put into words and probably I’m not articulating it correctly, but, there’s something about the law that I think we’re just all fortunate to be involved with. Trying to make that little difference that we can.
Louis Goodman 19:28
You know, the other thing is I don’t really see being a judge as simply being an umpire. I mean, I think the judge is very much on the playing field when cases are in court.
Judge Stuart Hing 19:43
Yeah. I regret saying that. There’s no doubt about that. And that came up when I applied about, you know, that kind of dumb comment that I made and I just didn’t understand what it really meant to be a judge.
Louis Goodman 19:57
Yeah. It’s so important and it makes such a difference in the way a courtroom feels as to who the judge is. Because I think the judge’s personality runs down through the court staff as well. You know, the clerks, the bailiff, the court reporter, the attorneys. Everybody kind of takes their cue from the judge. And if someone is a good judge and when I say a good judge, I don’t necessarily mean that they rule in my favor, but that they have a judicial temperament and that they manage to give that appearance of fairness to everyone. And I think you do a good job with that.
Judge Stuart Hing 20:42
No, thank you, Louis. And I feel the same way. In fact, all of us go to restaurants and I always feel that anyone at the restaurant is polite and professional, it comes from the top. And I think you’re right, that you can set a tone as a judge. And it’s something that I talk about all the time. I continually stress with the bailiffs and the clerks and the attorneys that how we treat people is the most important thing to me. To never lose your patience and always be polite.
Louis Goodman 21:15
Do you think the legal system is fair?
Judge Stuart Hing 21:17
I think it’s the fairest system we have. It’s not perfect, Louis, but it’s the best system out there when you compare it to other systems. But it’s definitely not perfect.
Louis Goodman 21:27
I’m gonna shift gears here a little bit. What keeps you up at night?
Judge Stuart Hing 21:30
Reading, talking to my wife. We constantly compare notes and talk about things. A lot of it is places we’d love to travel to. A lot of it is the current things and the news. And obviously there’s the fun stuff like, you know, the, the stuff you could see on TV and go to the movies for.
Louis Goodman 21:50
Have you had any interesting travel experience?
Judge Stuart Hing 21:52
I would say yes. We liked to cruise a lot and during the pandemic we couldn’t, but we’ve been able to sneak in a few since it reopened. And to be honest, it felt very safe because the last cruise we were on during new year’s was only 18% filled. There’s definitely no problem with social distancing like that. In fact, at one of the prime restaurants there, we were the only ones in it. And if you see a New Year’s Eve picture of us it’s just us and the DJ.
Louis Goodman 22:25
I guess you get any song you want played then?
Judge Stuart Hing 22:28
Louis Goodman 22:30
Let’s say you came into some real money. Let’s say you and your wife came into 3 or 4 billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?
Judge Stuart Hing 22:41
I don’t think there’s much different that we would do.
Louis Goodman 22:44
Would you stay on the bench?
Judge Stuart Hing 22:46
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, part of what I went through in Xerox is, I did pretty well there. I was number one in the US Western region. And I realized right then and there money wasn’t it for me. And I had more money at that time than I could ever think of. And at that time it wasn’t as much as you just mentioned, but to me was more than I ever needed. And I just knew making money and trying to impact the bottom line wasn’t it for me. So when you ask that question, it brought back that memory. Money isn’t everything.
Louis Goodman 23:20
Let’s say you had a magic wand and you could wave it over the legal system or just the world in general. What would you like to change?
Judge Stuart Hing 23:29
It goes back to something that has been said before and the thing I like about the legal system is people can disagree and you still defer to the result because you think it’s fair. And I wish that was explained to me kinda like law school. I didn’t have that “aha” moment until studying for the bar. But then in Judge’s school, they explained to me that our legal system, although it’s not perfect, is where people disagree, but then they defer to it and they accept the result, even though it may go against them because we trust the system.
What I would say now is something that Robert Kennedy said, and I always think about what would life be like if he lived? And he said, “The problem with extremists as not their position, but what they say about the other person.” And I think we’ve gotten to a point now where it’s not just the positions that are being talked about, but it’s attacking other people.
And I wish if I had a magic wand that that wasn’t the way it is right now. I don’t see that in the legal system. Like, I go to work every day and that’s not happening, but I would say in general, it’s happening more and more in our world.
Louis Goodman 24:44
I think one of the things that is really good about going to court is that we do have to confront each other personally. You know, it’s not like we’re just screaming at each other over Twitter, but we’re actually in a room with each other, and you know, even now when we’re doing so much of it on video conferencing, you know, we still have a certain amount of face to face contact with people that we know and that we know we’re gonna be dealing with over and over again. And I think that keeps a certain level of civility.
Judge Stuart Hing 25:24
Yeah, no, you’re right. You’re right, Louis. And you know more about this than I do, but I’ve seen mostly just Alameda County, but you and your experience have seen other counties. And they say Alameda County is unique about that. I’m not sure because I haven’t been to other counties like others have been.
Louis Goodman 25:39
I’ve been to other counties a little bit, but most of my experiences here in Alameda County. I’ve one, one more kind of big general question and then we’ll open it up to some of the other people who are on the call. Let’s say you had 60 seconds on the Super Bowl and you could put out a message to the nation, to the world, to an enormous number of people. What would you like to say?
Judge Stuart Hing 26:09
You know, probably something along the lines, which I inarticulately said earlier that, you know, Robert F. Kennedy said it best. He said that the problem with extremists is not their positions, but the way they attack other people. I’m not so sure if that’s gonna be something that makes, you know, the comment section or the YouTube later about the greatest Super Bowl commercial.
But to me, if I had 60 seconds, that would be it. I wish we could agree to disagree rather than the way it is sometimes for some that, well, if you don’t agree with me, I’m gonna destroy you. I mean, Louis, you and I know each other for a long time, and I’m sure we don’t agree on everything, but we would never attack each other personally.
Louis Goodman 26:50
Oh, I have a whole file cabinet full of bail motions that I’ve made in front of you that we disagree on.
Judge Stuart Hing 26:58
But Louis, you know what I mean.
Louis Goodman 27:01
I know exactly what you mean. No, I know exactly what you mean and you’re absolutely right.
Judge Stuart Hing 27:04
And you and I aren’t the only ones. Yeah.
Louis Goodman 27:06
No. And I remember one time. I’m gonna tell this one quick story, and then we’re gonna open it up. You remember Jack Burke, who was also a DA with us and then was a judge. This was in the old Hayward courthouse. And he had ruled against me, juvenile case. And it was a terrible ruling. I mean, it was a dreadful ruling and everybody knew it and he knew it. And I saw him a couple days later in the hall and I said, “Oh, hey Jack, how are you?” And he goes, “Oh, you’re still speaking to me?” I said, “Of course, I’m still speaking to you. I mean, you know, when we’re in court it’s business. That’s, that’s it that’s just business. It doesn’t mean that we’re not friends!”
Judge Stuart Hing 27:55
No, I have the same situation and I think everyone of us have it we’re I feel out one of the most, one of the judges who was most hostile to me later became one of my best friends.
Louis Goodman 28:09
Yeah. Sometimes it works that way.
Judge Stuart Hing 28:11
When a prosecutor, I go, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do anything right.” And then later that just becomes my friend, like as if nothing happens.
Louis Goodman 28:24
Let me open it up here a little bit. Jason Leong, do you have a question, a comment for judge Hing?
Jason Leong 28:30
Sure. Thank you, Louis and thank you judge for doing this today.
Judge Stuart Hing 28:33
Jason Leong 28:35
You mentioned that you and your wife had gotten cruising recently. Is there anything else that you would like to do or something you’re looking forward to that you couldn’t do when the COVID restrictions were more strict?
Judge Stuart Hing 28:47
Well, I look forward to the days we can go back to court more regularly and see people in person. My assignment now is, I guess, more suitable for remote. But I do miss going into court and seeing people. So that’s something I wish I could do, but as well as would love to travel more too.
Louis Goodman 29:09
Cynthia, do you have a question or a comment for Judge Hing?
He looks so young. I do wonder, are you planning on retiring any day?
Judge Stuart Hing 29:19
No, no plans, but thank you. But thanks, Cynthia. Well, especially about the young comment.
Louis Goodman 29:29
Dorothy Proudfoot 29:30
Hello! Hello, Louis. Hello, Judge Hing. So good to see you both.
Judge Stuart Hing 29:35
Yeah, hi Dorothy.
Dorothy Proudfoot 29:37
The reason Judge Hing looks so young is all of the cruising he gets, you know, it does wonders, right? When you are able to just relax, you work hard, but you also give yourself time to relax.
Yeah, I have like, you know, 80 thousand questions as I always have, but let me ask Judge, what do you, what would you say is sort of the key to, you know, keeping things fresh at work? Because you’ve been doing criminal justice for so many years, decades now, and there’s lots of changes in the law, but a couple things still remain the same procedurally. What are the ways that you feel energized when you go to work?
Judge Stuart Hing 30:12
Well, I’m not sure what led to this, but I just know that during my, when I first passed the bar, a veteran attorney said to me, now you’re learning really begins. And I felt so insulted by that, cause I just passed the bar and I thought, “Oh gosh, I know as much as I need to know.” But that person’s advice was perfect because during the first 10 years, as a lawyer, I learned so much more than the bar. And then the second 10 years, I even learned more, third 10 years I learned even more. Now it’s to the point where I realize the older I get, the more I learn. And to me, it’s just being willing to learn and realizing that there’s so much out there that we don’t know. And now with the way the internet is and the way things are even more available, I think it’s exponential.
But I think that’s the main thing. There’s just so much out there, even though I’ve seen, I don’t know, at least hundreds, maybe thousands of DUI cases, each one’s very different. And for that person who’s in court, it could be their first time ever. And there’s still stuff that I’m always learning about cases that I’ve seen before, but the people are definitely new, which I enjoy. Great question, Dorothy.
Louis Goodman 31:35
Sharon Caesar, do you have something for Judge Hing?
Sharon Caesar 31:39
I’m very impressed with his musical ability and the fact that he sang with Earth, Wind & Fire, one of my favorite groups and to know that he likes Rhythm N’ Blues, I guess that that’s why I’m so drawn to him, but I hope someday you’ll play for us at a social or something, but..
Judge Stuart Hing 32:03
I even have a song picked out that I’ve always wanted to play. It’s a Europa by Santana.
Sharon Caesar 32:11
Judge Stuart Hing 32:13
Yeah. But that’s a song that I figure would be my comeback or maybe Superstition by Stevie Wonder.
Sharon Caesar 32:21
Oh yeah. That’s one of my favorites too.
But I think that, you know, my experience of having been before you is that you always seem fair and just, and you always make me feel comfortable, even though I may feel a little uneasy about my clients and my case because we’re always representing the defendant and we always feel like we have an uphill battle, but you kind of make me feel like it’s okay. And that you’re gonna do the best you can do. So I just wanted to have a comment of thanks for your position.
Judge Stuart Hing 32:55
Oh, I appreciate that so much. Thank you so much for that. You know, when we went to Judges’ school, I remember, and this is something I wish they would’ve told us earlier. They said they did this big old survey. And they said that attorneys like the result, they were more interested in the result regardless of how you got there. But clients like the process. And they were more interested in the process. And that told me something that, you know, you gotta try to do two things. You gotta try to get the right result and then you gotta do it in the right way. But again, it’s something I wish I would’ve learned much earlier.
Louis Goodman 33:32
Stacy Guillory 33:33
I know you talked a little bit about some of the changes that have happened in court due to COVID. And I’m curious if you find that there’s more people that appear for arraignment on your calendars now that there are remote options and what you think the court’s ideas about kind of remote appearances and other changes during COVID that will continue as we go forward?
Judge Stuart Hing 33:53
Well, I know there’s people who say that the video wasn’t something that a lot of people liked initially, but then COVID made it a necessity. And I think there’s some out there who now feel that for certain proceedings, the video works. I do know this, I’ve heard repeatedly from say those who are in custody say they prefer it because they don’t have to say wake up early in the morning, get on a bus, get handcuffed and deal with the traffic from say, Dublin and go to any courthouse. And then I’ve heard attorneys say that they can appear in so many places cause it’s on video. But I do hear also one part that’s a little tough and that’s doing attorney-client interviews. That’s a little tougher.
Louis Goodman 34:43
Richard Tan 34:45
What are the qualities that made you one of the best salesmen at Xerox? And did any of those skills transfer over when you became an attorney?
Judge Stuart Hing 34:55
Oh wow. That’s interesting. You know. I’ll tell you this. After I became number one, they had me teach. And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think anyone ever has the best products or the best prices. I actually taught that I believe people buy from you because they trust you and you’re likable. My thing was whenever I went out there, say cold calling was my thing was, I’m not here to sell you anything, but if you’re ever interested, just want you to remember I’m out here as an option. I really believe that I wasn’t a super salesman. I think they just like they liked, I guess the way that I represented Xerox, I wasn’t a pressure or person. I was just out there and it is a numbers thing. You have to go out there a hundred times to get maybe two or three sales. And you’re not gonna get those two or three, if you’re gonna say pressure people or bother people. But I would say when I taught sales after becoming number one, is just be likable and enjoyable and be the sales person that you’d like to see around they came in, you know, to your business, trying to sell you something. Great question. But I never thought about it as, as a judge of attorney
Louis Goodman 36:09
Greg Humphreys 36:10
I just kinda had a question as someone who’s started here in Alameda county in the criminal courts at about the time when COVID, that I’ve kind of had a lot of that experience, but I’ve also, you know, just kind of thought about how much easier and how much difficult it might be if the video wasn’t available.
And particularly for things like the first or second continuance in a case, seems like almost a necessity and having to maybe drive out to a courthouse and appear there could seem like maybe an unnecessary burden and even sometimes appearing in court seems like it could have been something that maybe being expected, could have been taken care of in a different manner.
And so, I mean, I was just kind of maybe wondering that I called on for a question that was something that I was kind of wondering about. If you thought that something that maybe, you know, for the first couple could just be, you know, something stipulated by the DA and potentially turned into the clerk and kind of avoid maybe some unnecessary continuous appearances if, if they are unnecessary.
Judge Stuart Hing 37:14
Yeah. To me, especially with COVID we need to do that. In fact, I’m always very open to either doing it on video or in person for those who want to be in person. And I would say the vast majority do it by video. Another thing that I’m in big favor of is of doing things by agreement. If the attorneys agree on something to me, we don’t need to call the case.
In fact, a lot of times, and Louis is one who agree to waive his clients’ appearance and work out the dates and we’ll do it without a reporter and things are done so quickly like that, but I’m all for, you know, at the most video or in person, if that’s what you really feel more comfortable with or by agreement.
Because I figure the attorneys know the case better than the judge does.
Louis Goodman 38:03
Someone signed in as Huff Legal?
Michael Huff 38:06
Yeah. Michael Huff here, better known as Huff. And I guess the musical background is going around today. I used to sing backups for Bobby Womack, chatted with Aretha Franklin when we were booking Redondo Beach benefit for Eddie Kendricks, the Temptations who passed away. And so that’ll be our code word when I see I’ll just say Europa
Judge Stuart Hing 38:32
I’ll remember how?
Michael Huff 38:34
Yeah. I tell you. And so, no, I just it’s it’s really great. I like being able to, to. I don’t know that I have a question as much as a compliment. It’s just nice to see humans and peopleling.
I don’t mind the remote, you know, attendance as much. And I’m a big fan. I’ve had a virtual law office for over a decade and now it’s popular, but…
Judge Stuart Hing 38:54
Ahead of things.
Michael Huff 38:56
I was actually, unfortunately a head of cell towers being, being great. And just when Skype came out. So it was, it was very unpopular when I decided to do it, but you know, things are much different now, but it’s nice to just see members of the bench communicating with us folks, from the bar and being willing to show us, you know, show us your human humanity and just that you’re, that you’re a real person. I know that I don’t expect, I expect you to be fair when I come before you in court. But to know that there’s an empathetic, compassionate individual that’s behind the bench and that’s, what’s going on with the robe. It just, it feels good. I mean, sort of cattle processing that goes on, I’m a former police officer and patrol supervisor too. So I’ve been in the game for about 25 years now. And so just the vibe that you give off is something that’s antithetical to sort of a rubber stamp approach. And it’s refreshing. So thanks for being here. Thanks for spending time that you didn’t have to spend with us and we appreciate it.
Judge Stuart Hing 40:02
Oh, I appreciate your comments. In fact, when you were mentioning some of the things you said when Cynthia asked me, I was thinking about retirement. I will know this. If I start seeing that clock and it goes backwards and forwards looking at it, or if I start to get impatient or feel impatient, or, you know, become, say not a decent person when I’m, you know, or not a decent person, either on the bench or at home, I’ll know, it’s time to retire.
I mean, I hope that never happens, but I’ll know that it’s time.
Michael Huff 40:38
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you both again.
Louis Goodman 40:41
Thank you. Thanks for being here. Okay. We have a little bit of time left, so I wanna do a couple of things. I wanna just, I wanna give you my commercial, okay? Which is, you know, as far as going forward and having video conferencing as part of courts.
And I think we’re in agreement on this. I think that many of the court appearances that we make, you know, routine calendar appearances, that sort of thing, can be very effectively handled through video conferencing and I think it’s a good thing for the attorneys. I think it’s a good thing for the clients. I think it’s a good thing for the court. And I think that by the same token, jury trials, preliminary hearings, serious felony pleas are things that probably ought to be done live. And I’m wondering if we’re kind of on the same page as far as that’s concerned.
Judge Stuart Hing 41:37
I would say yes, definitely on the same page with everything you just said.
Louis Goodman 41:42
Well, look at that finally, an agreement from the court. No, seriously. Thank you. And then is there anything that we haven’t discussed that you would like to say before we end this discussion?
Judge Stuart Hing 41:55
Well, recently, and this is very memorable to me. One of the attorneys that came up to the bench and said that there’s someone in the audience that you sentenced about 10 years ago for armed bank robbery. And believe it or not, the person’s in court and now is a law student and wants to meet you. And he came up and met me and now we’re friends. And in fact, now we’re doing things for CEB. Did an article, did a video. And I think the title was How a Judge and a Felon Became Friends. But it’s one of those moments where someone who was an armed bank robber has changed his life, became a straight A student and he’s changed his life. And he just text me, I would say within a few days that he passed the moral character part of the bar, which we thought was gonna be the biggest part and took him almost a year, I think, to get through that. But it’s little things like that that I’ll never forget. And he said in part, you know, of course I wasn’t the main reason they used a straight A student, but he said in part I could have thrown the book at him and I didn’t, it was an open plea. And he said I gave him a chance. It’s something that I always admire to see that and, you know, there’s a handful of people like that, that I will never, ever forget.
Louis Goodman 43:14
Judge Stuart Hing, thank you so much for joining us today at the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast, it’s been a real pleasure and privilege to talk to you.
Judge Stuart Hing 43:25
Thank you, Louis and Alameda County Bar, and all of you, especially for attending this, really appreciate it, your comments. Thank you everyone.
Louis Goodman 43:34
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 staff and members Cailin Dahlin, Sayeed Randall, Hadassah Hayashi, Vincent Tong and Jason Leong. Thanks to Joel Katz for music, Bryan
Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.
Louis Goodman 44:38
I’m just not sure exactly what’s in the hopper right now. So anyway, Stuart, thanks so much. It’s always fun to see you.
Judge Stuart Hing 44:46
All right. Great to see you, Louis and thank you again, everyone.
Louis Goodman 44:49
Dorothy Proudfoot 44:49
Y’all have a good one.
Louis Goodman 44:50
Great. Okay. We can, we can stop the Zoom call.
Matt Davis/Louis Goodman – Transcript Louis Goodman 00:03 I’m Louis Goodman. This is the Love Thy Lawyer podcast, where we talk to attorneys about their