Waiting for Glusman
Chico attorney sworn in as Butte County’s newest judge
The verdict is in on Butte County’s newest Superior Court judge: He’s accomplished, funny, a family man and an all-around great choice for the position.
On Sept. 23, Courtroom 8—the county courthouse’s largest—overflowed as local dignitaries and a dozen judges joined Robert Glusman’s family, friends and college buddies in wishing him well.
The swearing-in proceedings fluctuated from solemn to almost roast-like, as such friends as Chico State University Professor Donald Chu ribbed Glusman about his sports prowess and considerable height. (Glusman came up the short man in the March 2000 primary, when he failed to beat out David Gunn and Stephen Benson in the race for Dept. 6 judge.)
His time came, however, when the Butte County Superior Court was deemed ready, by virtue of population and caseload growth, for a new department, and the task of appointing a judge fell upon Gov. Gray Davis. There was a 21-month delay, during which Judge William Lamb was on temporary assignment to Dept. 10. Glusman later joked about what is apparently an old judges’ saying: “A judge is just a lawyer who knows the governor.”
The oath was administered by Judge Thomas Kelly, and then Glusman’s wife, Marsha, helped him don a borrowed black robe. He took the bench and gave a short speech, dedicating much of it to praising his family, including their three children ages 14, 16 and 18 (who were adopted in that very courthouse), his elderly mother and his late father. When Glusman introduced his brother, Paul, a Berkeley barrister, his sibling called out, “I’m sorry for the way I treated you when you were a kid.”
Glusman, 51, secured a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Santa Barbara before studying law at the University of Santa Clara Law School. In 1976, he moved to Chico. After applying for a position as Butte County deputy district attorney and losing out to now-DA Mike Ramsey, Glusman was hired by the agency that became the Janet Levy Center. Soon, he set up a private practice where he became known for his expertise in family law, a specialty in which he holds certification. He’s also served as president of the Butte County Bar Association and taught ethics at Cal Northern School of Law.
Judge Darrell Stevens said the only the bad side of seeing such a “caring, fair and ethical person” ascend to the role of judge is that Glusman will no longer be representing people who, due to mental-health issues, are assigned a public guardian to serve their interests in court.
Retired Judge Ann Rutherford, foreseeing confusion as to why a man with such an extensive background in family law and civil court would be assigned to criminal court, speculated—correctly, Kelly later confirmed—as to why. “Every judge must be able to handle, eventually, everything,” Rutherford said. But with the assignment year three-quarters done, it makes sense to have Lamb serve as the “utility infielder” while Glusman builds experience on the bench. This will also allow enough time to pass so that cases in which Glusman played a part as an attorney clear the calendar, avoiding conflicts of interest.
Glusman said he is looking forward to his judgeship "with great anticipation and a healthy dose of fear."