USD Law Alumnus Judge Dean Benjamini ’93 (JD) Featured in Los Angeles Daily Journal Article

Judge Dean Benjamini ’93 (JD) Featured in Los Angeles Daily Journal Article

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Indio, Calif. (July 30, 2015) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law alumnus Judge Dean Benjamini, '93 (JD), was the featured subject of a judicial profile in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Benjamini, who previously served as a both a deputy public defender and private criminal defense attorney for 19 years, was appointed to the Riverside County Superior Court by Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. in December 2013. At the time of his appointment, he vowed to avoid the behaviors that irked him as a defense attorney.

In particular, Benjamini was frustrated when judges skirted issues and shirked decision-making. "To me that was letting the system down to a certain extent," he said. "We are professional decision-makers." He also considers it important to make timely decisions and has taken an issue under submission only once or twice in his 16 months on the bench. "I want people to have certain expectations and have consistency so when they walk in and out of the courtroom they know what should and should not happen."

As a litigant, Benjamini was also frustrated by judges who said, "Is there anything that's not in your moving papers that you want to add?" And if an attorney said no, because his papers were complete, "you never had a chance to really forcefully articulate with passion and with vigor what it is that is so important to you. Even if the rulings went for me I still kind of felt I walked out a little bit empty."

He acknowledged, however, "Sometimes there are cases which just scream out for a very narrow focus of inquiry." Then he tries to direct the argument with questions indicating the points that are concerning him.

"I honestly try to put myself in the attorney's position. ...What would I have expected? How would I have prepared this motion? And I tend to use that as a standard because that's what I know best," said Benjamini, who has been handling criminal trials, motions, pre-trials and arraignments at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, the high desert town where he has practiced since 1994.

As a judge, Benjamini also looks back at himself as an attorney and wishes he could have shortened his moving papers and focused more on the most important things. "As a litigant you have a lot to say and want to make sure your voice is heard, but sometimes you don't realize …the judicial officer is not just reading your papers but many other motions as well," he said. "So now what I appreciate are complete papers that are succinctly written without extraneous, unnecessary material."

Benjamini said he expects integrity and commitment from the lawyers who appear before him. "When an attorney has a strong commitment to their client it breeds passion and hard work. When an attorney demonstrates integrity to the system it results in less gamesmanship and more focus on the issues at hand," he said.

"I've seen him with some attorneys that need to be whipped into shape and not enough judges do it," said Kevin Shek, a deputy district attorney. "He's very efficient, patient, knowledgeable and professional. He's very conscious of everyone's time ... and he holds attorneys accountable.”

Read the full story online.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Celebrating 60 years of alumni and student success, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

Judge Dean Benjamini ’93 (JD)

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