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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Judge - Superior Court; County of Santa Clara; Office 7

The questions were prepared by the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Sentencing, Experience, Eliminate Bias

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. As a judge, you may be called on to impose sentences for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to homicide. While there are sentencing parameters and guidelines, you will have latitude. What factors and principles/values will affect your decisions?

Answer from Cynthia A. Sevely:

Generally, the laws in California give sentencing ranges to assist a judge in sentencing a defendant. As a judge, there are overall considerations that need to be addressed. When individuals are convicted of crimes, there needs to be consequences. The purpose of imposing a sentence on a criminal is to

1. Protect society;
2. Punish the defendant;
3. Encourage the defendant to lead a law-abiding life in the future and deter him/ her from future offenses;
4. Deter others from criminal conduct by demonstrating its consequences;
5. Prevent the defendant from committing new crimes by isolating him/ her for the period of incarceration;
6. Secure restitution for the victims of crime; and
7. Ensure that the sentencing laws are applied equally to all parties.

As a judge, I would examine the crime and consider whether

1. The crime involved great bodily harm, a threat of great bodily harm, or other acts which indicated a high degree of cruelty, viciousness, or callousness;
2. The defendant used a weapon at the time the crime was committed;
3. The victim was particularly vulnerable;
4. The defendant was the ring leader and encouraged others, including minors, to participate in the commission of the crimes;
5. The defendant threatened witnesses or unlawfully prevented or dissuaded witnesses from testifying;
6. The defendant's criminal history- whether the defendant had gone to prison before or had a long criminal record;
7. The manner in which the crime was carried out indicated planning, sophistication, or professionalism;
8. The crime involved an attempted or actual taking or damage of great monetary value;
9. The crime involved a large quantity of narcotics; and
10.The defendant took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to commit the offense.

Answer from Steven R. "Steve" Pogue:

I would consider, among any other statutory mitigating or aggravating factors that might present themselves in any individual case:
1. The age and criminal history of the offender.
2. The future potential for danger to society.
3. The future potential for rehabilitation of the offender.
4. The harm caused by the offender's conduct.
5. Remorse or lack thereof.
6. Restitution or lack thereof.
7. Level of participation of the offender (in multiple defendant cases)

? 2. Please describe your experience in civil and criminal cases.

Answer from Steven R. "Steve" Pogue:

I have tried hundreds of Family Law Matters, ranging from brief hearings to full-scale multi-day trials on every possible issue in that spectrum, including domestic violence issues (seeking and defending) child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, parentage, complex property division issues, pensions, deferred compensation and stock options, and settled countless such cases.

I have represented plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury matters in hundreds of matters, obtaining settlements for injured persons where appropriate and defending claims where appropriate.

I have represented home buyers against brokers and defended brokers against claims, homeowners against contractors and contractors against customers, tenants against landlords and landlords against tenants.

I have probated dozens of decedents' estates, established dozens of conservatorships, guardianships and adoptions, and prepared approximately 400 estate plans (Wills and/or Trusts.)

The Superior Court has seven divisions. They are Criminal, Civil, Family, Probate, Traffic, Juvenile and Small Claims. I have appeared in all seven. I have done felony jury trials, felony and misdemeanor court trials, civil jury and court trials, appeared in the federal civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts, in the California Courts of Appeal and the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Answer from Cynthia A. Sevely:

  • While in law school, I was enrolled in the Santa Clara University's Law Clinic Program where I handled a worker's compensation hearing in front of an administrative law judge, a contract dispute, and as well as a criminal case. During my three years of law school, I worked at a small law firm. I worked on cases which involved probate and estate planning, family law, and civil matters.

  • For the past 28 years, I have been a prosecutor with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. I have handled misdemeanor cases such as driving under the influence, vandalism and assaults to felonies involving large narcotics cases, theft and fraud cases, rapes, child molests, elder and child abuse, and elder and child homicides. I have also handled juvenile delinquency and dependency cases, as well as matters in Traffic Court.

  • For 7 years, I specialized in prosecuting child and elder abuse cases. I prosecuted individuals who were abusing children in satanic rituals, performing female circumcision, jeopardizing the health of a child through Munchausen Syndrom by Proxy, and engaging in child pornography.

  • I have written County wide protocol for DNA and AIDS testing of convicted defendants. I wrote the Multi-Disciplinary Interview Protocol for Physically Abused and Neglected Children, which is used by all law enforcement agencies in the County.

  • I am currently on the Law and Motions Team. I handle complicated appeals on homicide cases as well as motions involving search and seizure. I have done jury trials, court trials, preliminary hearing, large volume calendars involving both misdemeanors and felonies, extradition hearings, conditional examinations, as well as examining numerous experts for both the prosecution and defense.

? 3. Would you propose any changes to assure that there is no appearance of bias in the courtroom including, but not limited to, bias based on disability, gender identity, age, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation?

Answer from Cynthia A. Sevely:

  • When I was the Supervisor of the Misdemeanor Unit, I attended the mandatory training required by the County for all supervisors. This class consisted of an 8 hour block that included training on preventing sexual harassment and making reasonable accommodations for employees. I also attend the 4 hour refresher block on these topics that supervisors were required to do.

  • As an attorney, I have taken numerous classes on the Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession. I believe that all parties that come before the Court should be treated with respect.

  • A judge must lead by example. I will be diligent in ensuring that no one in my court acts disrespectful or unprofessional to the staff, attorneys, witnesses, defendants, and members of the public.

Answer from Steven R. "Steve" Pogue:

I do not believe that changes are needed in this county as I believe that not only are the courts fair, but they also work very hard to ensure that they are perceived as fair. If anything, I would work to make sure that people understood the process, as I see that as the key to the perception of having been treated fairly.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits for answers are 400 words for all questions. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 26, 2012 13:01 PDT
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