I got a call this afternoon from one of my oldest friends, Randy Robinson. He was a couple years ahead of me in school, but from seventh or eighth grade on he was my closest friend in our little semi-rural neighborhood outside Park Forest. He went off to the University of Illinois, wound up going to law school there, and in 1976, the same summer I came out to Berkeley, he moved to Lewiston, Idaho, as a Legal Aid Society attorney. And he’s been working Legal Aid ever since — a position in which he’s been an advocate for lots of people who wouldn’t otherwise have decent access to an attorney when they’re dealing with courts.
We haven’t talked for months — the better part of a year, for sure. He said he had news, and it turned out to be good news. And it was: He applied for a vacant judgeship in Clearwater County, east of Lewiston (which is the county seat of Nez Perce County) and he’d just been informed that the committee reviewing candidates had unanimously chosen him for the job. The position he’s been assigned — he’ll be on the ballot for public approval in four years — is magistrate judge; the court doesn’t hear felony cases — those go to the state district court — or civil cases involving $10,000 or more. So it’s roughly equivalent to a municipal court judgeship in California. Which means that it’s one where you’re really dealing with local people in matters involving their day-to-day lives. In a county with just 9,000 people, the judge is a pretty important figure.
I think Randy will be great at it . I’m ready to chart his rise to, well, who knows? Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wasn’t appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court until he was 61.