3 minutes reading time (601 words)

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.

Q. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A. Being self-centered. I see it all the time, and it drives me crazy, especially by those in [the legal] field who are supposed to pursue justice. We are public servants, took an oath, and should be serving others, not ourselves. We need to make sure people have faith in the justice system.

Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. A good scotch and a cigar.

Q. What is your favorite journey?
A. The realignment of justice into a service model to better serve people. It’s cheaper and better for people. The [San Joaquin County Superior] Court is in the middle of a system redesign with a lot of help—Justice Murray and Judge Alva, for example. No other court in the country does things like us, and we are getting results others wish for. It is a model for the nation.

Q. What is one thing about you that most people do not know.
A. I am my own gardener; it’s very relaxing.

Q. What do you dislike most about your appearance?
A. Because of my herniated L5 and my age, I walk like an old man.

Q. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
A. Shenanigans.

Q. What is your greatest regret?
A. I don’t really have any.

Q. The greatest love of your life?
A. Absolutely, my wife Phyllis. We’ve been together for 33-years.

Q. A talent you would most like to have?
A. Singing. I love music. But I apparently have a terrible singing voice.

Q. If after you die you could come back as someone else, who would you be?
A. Dick Van Dyke. Comedy is one of my favorite things, and he was very good at it.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?
A. I love our house; it’s a bit out of the way, and my wife makes it a home.

Q. If you couldn’t be a judge, what would you like to do?
A. I’d be a baseball announcer… for the Giants, of course. Or a singer… let’s not go there.

Q. What is your most marked characteristic?
A. Being the long-lost twin of Super Mario. Seriously, I talk with my hands. If you tied my hands behind my back, I wouldn’t be able to talk.

Q. What do you most value in your friends?
A. Altruism—service to others above self.

Q. Name one of your favorite authors.
A. Turow; I like everything he’s written.

Q. Any real-life heroes?
A. The Founding Fathers, and not because they were without any faults; they had plenty, but they were able to see outside of the box of their time. The Founding Fathers created something that has lasted and there is nothing else like it. Most people are resigned to the system in place, but I like systems that make you think, that work for people.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

Q. How would you like to die?
A. From first hand experience, I can say an aneurism. I was lucky, but with my aneurism there was no pain or discomfort.

Q. What is your motto?
A. I am very passionate about it: Service to Others.

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