Berkeley resident and campus alumnus appointed to be Superior Court judge

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Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced the appointment of Berkeley resident and UC Berkeley alumnus Stephen Kaus as a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court.

Kaus, 64, is one of three recently appointed judges announced by Brown last Wednesday. The other two appointees were Scott Patton, who graduated from University of San Francisco School of Law, and Gregory Syren, who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and later attended University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

According to the governor’s press release, Kaus will fill the position left vacant by the departure of one of the commissioner judges, who are appointed by an executive committee of the Alameda County court.

“I am happy about it,” Kaus said. “I applied about a year ago. It was kind of funny: I was on jury duty when I found out about (the decision).”

Adam Byer, principal analyst and acting bureau chief at the Alameda County Superior Court, said there are currently 75 authorized superior judges and 10 authorized commissioner judges in the county.

As one familiar with the Bay Area, Kaus said he is excited to handle civil and criminal cases within the county while serving in his new position.

“I’m just going to try and do a good job,” he said. “I’m going to try to be fair, to pay attention and be polite. I’m going to try to be smart.”

Kaus first moved to Berkeley to attend UC Berkeley School of Law and has been in the city ever since. Kaus said he loves the Bay Area’s open-mindedness and the city’s university atmosphere.

“I moved to Berkeley in 1970, and I had every intention of moving back to L.A., but I have been here ever since,” he said.

In the 40 years that Kaus has spent in the area, he has held many positions working in the legal profession. Kaus was a partner of the San Francisco-based litigation firm of Kaus, Kerr & Wagstaffe from 1982 to 1990. He then spent time as a deputy public defender in Contra Costa County and currently works as a partner at Cooper White & Cooper LLP, a law firm in San Francisco.

Kaus says he does not know which courthouse he will be sworn into, but he is expected to begin in late December or January. He hopes to run again after the end of the six-year term.

Contact Alyssa Neumann at [email protected].

A previous version of this article stated that Kaus hopes to maintain the position for six years. In fact, the term for a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court is six years, after which he or she can be re-elected.