Under Oath: Ellen Schwarzenberg

Ellen Schwarzenberg is an attorney with the Office of the Public Defender.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. Oh my! Being in a state of serenity. A quiet place with a good book.

Q. What is your greatest fear?
A. Loneliness; not being vital or engaged.

Q. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. I’m restless, but I guess it can be good or bad.

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Under Oath: Anthony Gutierrez

Anthony Gutierrez has been an SJCBA Member since 1980. Now retired from practice, he is a former member of the San Joaquin County Board of Education.

Q. Definition of perfect happiness?
A. On the Santa Cruz beach with family and friends.

Q. Greatest fear?
A. For me, any harm to my grandchildren. For the world, people failing to live together in peace.

Q. Trait you dislike in yourself?
A. I worry too much about things. My family calls me a worry wart!

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Under Oath: Judge Richard Vlavianos

Q. What is your idea of happiness?
A. The key is being happy with what you have and not wanting anything more. If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t quit my job. I love what I do. Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid for this.

Q. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. I could be less spontaneous.

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Under Oath: Christopher Eley

Chris and I met at a coffee shop on a beautiful morning. We spent a moment catching up and then dove into to the questions.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. “Hummm…. Can it include chocolate?” He joked. Staring across the room he pondered over the question as I sipped my tea. “I believe it requires balance. That tends to be a problem with lawyers today; to be useful in the law and still trying to have a full life outside of the office. I think most of us struggle with that, and the struggle is always changing.”

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Under Oath: Jason Chong

​Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "I was actually thinking about this one as I was driving here! I had to be prepared," he joked. "But, I guess I don't set the standard too high. Just being alive with no major worries about finances, health, family. That's happiness. I look at people around the world in much worse situations and it's hard to wish for more than I have. I have enough." Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "My greatest fear?" He sat back and pondered a litt...

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Under Oath: John Soldati

John Soldati is a commissioner of the Superior Court of California, San Joaquin County. As of press time, Commissioner Soldati is awaiting certification of the results of the June 5, 2018 election in which he is the apparent victor of the race to become the newest judge of that court. John and I met for coffee near the courthouse following his morning calendar. He was punctual, cheerful and ready for the questions! Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "Do I have to answer these really q...

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Under Oath: Jayne Lee

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A. "Spending time with family and appreciating what I have as opposed to longing for that 'thing' in the future. Tomorrow is elusive, appreciate today." Q. What is your greatest fear?  A. "Well, I have two fears," she admitted. "The first is if something terrible happened to my family." "And the second?" I inquired. "I'm also afraid of the zombie apocalypse. So my greatest fear would be something terrible happening to my family during the zom...

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Under Oath: Gregg Meath and Fernanda Pereira

I met with the husband-and-wife team of Gregg Meath (full-time intellectual property lawyer, part-time rock band drummer) and Fernanda Pereira (full-time immigration lawyer, part-time beekeeper) at their office in downtown Stockton's Kress Building—the same building that houses the San Joaquin County Bar Association's office. We all sat down to interview over coffee and croissants. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. Right out the gate Gregg yelled, "No!" jokingly suggesting it was his...

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Under Oath: Honorable William Johnson and Cheryl Jacobsen

For a new spin on an old article, we decided to interview Judge Johnson alongside his Wife Cheryl Jacobsen. We met in Department 32 Judge's chambers and enjoyed the view of the new court house as we began. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. As if on cue, they both rolled their eyes simultaneously. "I told you, Cheryl," Judge Johnson teased, "there are going to be a lot of "gotcha" questions!" Through Cheryl's laughing, he dramatically intoned, "How about walking on the beach…. discuss...

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Under Oath: Sean Geddes

"I actually wake up thinking, 'How am I going to make a difference today?' It's wonderful that I can do that." Sean Geddes and I met down town and began discussing the challenges of his work in juvenile court. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "I guess it would be… a family, a dog that behaves and seeing more people do good deeds and treat people with respect. I don't see that enough." Q. What is your greatest fear? A. Softly he responded, "Being alone. Old and alone." Q. What is the...

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Under Oath: Lisa Blanco Jimenez

"Though she be but little, she is fierce." Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. She put her drink down and shook her head." I knew I should have prepared!" she laughed. "Well, I would say that 'most happy' is when it's me, [husband] Tony, and the three kids just enjoying each other. Nothing fancy. Whether we are all lying in bed watching videos or letting the kids make their own videos. The funniest part is watching their reaction to their videos, they think they are so funny!" Q. What ...

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Under Oath: Stephen Rosenbaum

​Stephen Rosenbaum, J.D., M.P.P. is the new Directing Attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) office in Stockton. Before joining CRLA, Stephen taught courses in social justice, civil rights litigation, and mental health law and policy at his alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley's Boalt School of Law. Stephen has had appointments at U.C. Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Stanford Law School and Golden Gate University.  Stephen and I met at French 25 to s...

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Under Oath: Archie Bakerink

Gail Archer Bakerink ("Archie" to friends and colleagues) and I met at Yasoo Yani after his morning court calendar in the collaborative courts program. After catching up and congratulating him on his recent nomination to the Laurence Drivon School of Law Hall of Fame, we began the questions. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "Attending my family reunion with my kids, grandkids and great grandkids; that is the closest to perfect happiness I have ever been." Q. What is your greate...

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Under Oath: Gene Eacret

Gene and I met shortly after his morning calendar. He came prepared; had read the previous interviews and was ready to fire with his answers. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "What do you call it when you are out in the sticks? A rural, remote location with a rocking chair, fishing pole and a glass of wine. Now this place MUST be somewhere near the water, a river, stream or lake, but preferably all three." However, "living on a private island with an air strip fo...

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Under Oath: Armando Villapudua

Armando and I decided to meet at Casa Flores following his afternoon hearing. After he mistook an innocent bystander as his afternoon host, I introduced myself and we dove into the interview. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "A day with my wife and kids on the beach. We LOVE the beach. We went to Biarritz [France] this summer, but we typically go to Santa Cruz… a lot!" Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "My greatest fear is losing one of my kids. That's a fear I have." Q. What is the...

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Under Oath: Cathy Huston

Cathy and I met in her office on a busy Friday afternoon. Amongst flying files and ringing phones we sat in her office to enjoy our lunch. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "Honestly, its going home from work after a good day where I won all my cases, the kids' homework is done and I had time to work out. Just knowing that we are on the status quo. As long as all my loved ones are doing well and we are all healthy… that is happiness." Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "Right now it's...

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Under Oath: Moses Zapien

Moses and I met at a Starbucks coffee shop where he is a regular. The baristas all know him well. We settled in and the questions began. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. “What comes to mind is: having dinner with my family; a nice evening out with friends; relaxing on a patio, having a good conversation and watching a beautiful sunset; and doing work that I am passionate about that makes a difference in people’s lives. Q. What is your greatest fear? A. “I think, not living up to my ...

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