New Judge Appointed to SF Superior Court

With San Francisco Superior Court presiding Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee’s two-year term coming to an end at the start of 2015, a new judge was unanimously elected to the post last week.

Judge John Stewart will serve as the presiding judge for a two-year term starting Jan. 1, 2015.

He has been assistant presiding judge for the past two years and has been a member of the bench for 13 years since he was appointed in December 2000 following civil litigation work at a private San Francisco law firm.

As a judge he served for three years as a member in the court’s appellate department, five years as a criminal judge, and as a civil trial judge for another five years until January 2012.

He was also a juvenile delinquency judge for one year.

As presiding judge he will oversee the court, its judges, committees and general operations.

The San Francisco Superior Court Bench is comprised of 52 judges and one commissioner.

According to court officials, Stewart’s vision includes changes to cut back on civil trial backlogs, restoring the Civic Center Courthouse’s 8 a.m. opening after the McAllister Street courthouse had its hours pushed back in October 2011 because of budget cuts, and providing judges for mediation and settlement conferences.

At the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St., Stewart is hoping to expand a probation supervision program, increase the drug court’s caseload and put more resources into the Community Justice Center.

Stewart said he aims to maintain Lee’s open and transparent leadership style as he handles funding cuts and minimal revenue from the state court budget.

Stewart attended Denison University in Ohio and received his law degree from Stanford University.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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