Judge George Hernandez grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District and in Fremont, California. In college at Cal, he played varsity soccer, and was a member of close group of friends known as the Ameekables, who played soccer and flag football and who remain friends to this day. After earning his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Judge Hernandez started his legal career representing bankruptcy trustees and businesses. He later performed community-based lawyering to serve the low-income community of Union City (then called Decoto). He only applied to the Alameda County Municipal Court as a Commissioner after local judges lobbied his wife to have him apply, and he felt that he could make a difference in the community in that position.
Judge George Hernandez has spent the last 30 years handling traffic and criminal cases in the Alameda County Municipal Court as a Commissioner and then Judge, and finally civil calendars for the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda as a Judge. He has been involved with nearly every committee in the Court, and was Presiding Judge from 2006-2007. Judge Hernandez is described by his colleagues as a born teacher, a patient man, an unbelievably valuable jurist, and a down right decent human being. It is said about him that he will try anything, and never turns down a request to take a case. He is always eager to mentor to newer judges, and his integrity, sense of fairness, and patience make him a champion for equal access to justice in all that he does.
Join us on January 26th to honor Judge George Hernandez as our recipient of our Distinguished Service Award for Judge at our annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I did not know I wanted to be a lawyer until I completed my first year at Hastings. I went straight from Cal to Hastings thinking that if I completed just one year of law school, I’d have an advantage over all of my fellow political science graduates when it came to finding a job. But after my first year in law school, I was hooked.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
My college career counselor told me that my employment tests showed that my aptitude was most compatible with being a hospital administrator. He told me that it seemed that I would not have a difficult time telling doctors what to do. That field did not seem interesting to me. If I were not a lawyer, I would have probably taught political science at some university.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
I wish I had known that is not enough to be really smart in order to be a successful lawyer. You have to know how other people think and how people are motivated. Smart only gets you into the game. If you want to be a successful lawyer, you have to account for the emotional parts of the problem.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a judge today?
The Budget. This is not a new problem. Even in the 1980s when I started with the court, I remember our court struggling with our county to get money to simply complete the construction of the Fremont and Hayward courthouses. Back then we were funded in large part by our county and our Board of Supervisors, then and now, had pride and respect for our local court. We always worked things out with the county. Our budget disputes with the Board were more like family discussions, not brutal negotiations. Now, however, the State controls our budget and our court is forced to compete with other courts in our state for limited funds. Our budget has been cut significantly. As a judge, it is a challenge to deliver justice to our community when there is not enough money just to hire staff.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
As a lawyer, I enjoyed the randomness of a community practice. I would show up at my and someone would come in with some problem that I would try to solve. Sometimes they were legal problems, sometimes practical ones. I think I could have made more money if I specialized in some area of the law but I think I would have made fewer friends.
What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would be to go back to Italy with a group of friends and just eat.
What are you reading now?
The City & The City by China Miéville;
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
I know more about Star Trek than a man of my age should know.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
It would be a toss-up between Justice Ruth Ginsberg and Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
I think I first joined the ACBA in the 1970s when I was a lawyer. The ACBA has always been the place was where all lawyers met to share our experiences and enjoy each other’s company. Without the ACBA, where would we go to brag about our victories or complain about other lawyers? Our ACBA has always had great reputation in our statewide legal community for being a strong organization filled with active lawyers and a great example of the best qualities of our legal profession.
Please join us on January 26th to honor Judge George Hernandez and the rest of the Distinguished Service Award recipients at the ACBA’s annual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Dinner.
Socialize with your colleagues and enjoy a delicious dinner, catered by Scott’s Seafood, during the awards ceremony. We are pleased to announce David J. Kelly, General Counsel & Vice President of Basketball Management and Strategy for the Bay Area’s own Golden State Warriors, as this year’s featured speaker.